British Columbia – Sierra Club Concerned over RCMP Actions

Unist'ot'en Camp
Image - Unist'ot'en Camp Facebook page

HOUSTON – INDIGENOUS – Reports are now coming out that apparently twenty people have been arrested at the roadblock established to protest the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Through the course of the day, social media has been filled with reports of the efforts to enforce the British Columbia Supreme Court ruling putting in an injunction

The Sierra Club BC is deeply concerned by the actions threatened by the RCMP to forcibly remove Wet’suwet’en people from their unceded territory, namely the Unist’ot’en and the Gidimt’en who are actively managing their lands and waters. By sending in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to enforce the interim injunction acquired by pipeline company Coastal GasLink, the B.C. government is contravening the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Declaration protects the Indigenous right to self-determination, including Article 10 which states that: “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous peoples concerned and agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.”

“In a time when both our provincial and federal governments have made strong commitments to reconciliation and to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is unconscionable that the RCMP are being used to enable fossil fuel corporations’ efforts to undermine the rights and title of the Wet’suwet’en,” said Mark Worthing, conservation and climate campaigner with Sierra Club BC.

“Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have been clear that their actions are in defence of their lands and waters as well as the climate we all depend on. The Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline and the LNG Canada export facility are incompatible with B.C.’s plans to reduce climate pollution.”

As understood from Calder v. British Columbia, Gisday Wa & Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, and the recent Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, Aboriginal title includes the right to use, manage and decide how the land will be used. Aboriginal title also requires Crown governments and others to obtain consent from rightful title holders prior to using the land.

Sierra Club BC is calling on B.C. and the federal government to ensure that both the RCMP and Coastal GasLink respect the inherent and constitutionally-protected rights of the Wet’suwet’en people on their unceded lands.