OTTAWA – POLITICS – Ontario Senator Kim Pate has issued a statement on the RCMP actions in Wet’suwet’en Nation on the unceded territory.
“The recent arrests in Wet’suwet’en Nation territory signal a failure on Canada’s part to recognize and respect the laws and rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Wet’suwet’en Nation has raised concerns about disregard for its governance and decision- making processes. It has also raised concerns about planned resource extraction work camps on Wet’suwet’en Nation territory. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has linked these camps to increased violence against women and children. In addition, the national inquiry’s final report notes, ‘both physical violence and legal prosecution are used against Indigenous people to criminalize them, particularly in reference to those defending land and water rights, but also as related to the protection of families and communities.’
Too often, Canadian legal systems have failed to protect and uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples, but have not demonstrated the same hesitation when it comes to criminalizing and imprisoning them. As Dr. Pam Palmater has observed, ‘genocide and eco-cide go hand-in-hand.’
Canada has committed to reconciliation and to redressing injustices associated with ongoing colonial legacies. Respectful and responsive dialogue between nations is needed. Criminalizing people for protecting their environment and asserting their rights will only escalate and underscore historical injustices.
I echo today’s words from Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde calling on Canada to ‘step up and create a space for dialogue with the Wet’suwet’en leadership.’ Let us support the governance and decision-making process of the Wet’suwet’en People and all Indigenous Peoples.”
Senator Kim Pate