Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions

Friday, February 21:

Sandpoint, Idaho (Kalispel Territory): 12 pm on the southwest corner of North Third Avenue and Oak Street, across from the Farmin Park clock, with the weekly, 350 Sandpoint Climate Strike action

Spokane, Washington (Spokane Territory): 3 pm at the park on the southeast corner of North Division Street and East Martin Luther King, Jr. Way

Moscow, Idaho (Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) Territory): 5:30 pm at Friendship Square on the west side of South Main Street at West Fourth Street, with the weekly, Palouse Peace Coalition demonstration

Fossil fuels extraction and transportation onslaughts continue to use public police for private profit, invade indigenous, private, and public lands, and criminalize defenders of healthy waters, climate, lands, and life ways.  A British Columbia (B.C.) Supreme Court injunction granted in December 2019 seeks to block Wet’suwet’en people from their unceded, traditional territories in west central B.C., by establishing a tribal and public exclusion zone easing Coastal GasLink (CGL) access to its pipeline construction and work camp sites within the zone [1, 2].  Under Wet’suwet’en law, the hereditary chiefs of all five clans have unanimously opposed the fracked gas project and all pipeline proposals, and have not provided their free, prior, and informed consent [3].  They closed the West Morice Road, and in early January, evicted the company from their lands, where “Coastal GasLink was building a work camp to house up to 400 people,” about 20 kilometers beyond the Unist’ot’en Healing Center at kilometer 66 [1].  Wet’suwet’en chiefs have criticized Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for arbitrarily expanding the exclusion zone and moving their checkpoint closer to Highway 16.

With an office in Spokane, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) owns the Keystone tar sands pipeline that has leaked numerous times across the Great Plains and the Gas Transmission Northwest pipeline that runs from western Canada through north Idaho and eastern Washington.  The company is proposing the Keystone XL pipeline across Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and is building the $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline from northeastern B.C. to a coastal, liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Kitimat, B.C.

Amid rising tensions during the first week of February, RCMP attempted to enforce the injunction and allow Coastal GasLink to resume work.  On Thursday, February 6, militarized police launched a pre-dawn raid on the first Wet’suwet’en camp at kilometer 39 of the Morice Road [4].  They detained journalists, arrested six land defenders and their supporters at gunpoint, but later released them without charges, and dismantled the camp.  With rifles, vehicles, and helicopters on Friday, February 7, tactical squad members invaded the Gidimt’en clan camp at kilometer 44 on the road, eventually arresting four people, while others refused to leave and remained in a cabin, and police towed their vehicles.  On Saturday, February 8, RCMP arrested another 11 community members, who had barricaded and chained themselves inside the Gidimt’en checkpoint warming center.  Police have accused Wet’suwet’en of placing two blockades and spikes in the road, to deter and damage vehicles, and cutting support beams of the kilometer 44 bridge, damaged by RCMP pulling down the metal, bridge gate with trucks.

Also on Saturday, two helicopters reached the last of three Wet’suwet’en, pipeline opponent strongholds, with police ready to evict the residents of the Unist’ot’en Healing Center.  The activists had built a large fire blockade on the snowy, Morice River bridge, and had strung dozens of red dresses along it and the road, symbolizing the violence against indigenous communities that transient, resource extraction “man camps” increase.  Among legal observers at the camp gate, they donned regalia, engaged in songs and ceremony to save the waters and lands for all humans, rang bells to summon ancestors, named missing and murdered, indigenous women and girls, and burned a copy of the injunction.  Unist’ot’en clan spokesperson and healing center director Freda Huson refused to talk with RCMP before they left the scene.  On Monday, February 10, police invaded the Unist’ot’en camp with dogs, vehicles, and helicopters, and arrested and removed Wet’suwet’en matriarchs, including Freda, while in ceremony [5, 6].

Denouncing Canada’s failed reconciliation processes with First Nations and supporting the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, indigenous youth and anonymous activists across Canada have simultaneously locked down and occupied the front steps of the B.C. legislature and political party offices, blocked access to the Port of Vancouver, marched and disrupted traffic on freeways and in cities, and shut down Canadian National and Canadian Pacific train tracks and railway bottlenecks, to interfere with pipe shipments to storage yards and construction sites, along vast, isolated stretches of infrastructure [1, 7].  On Thursday, February 13, and until further notice, VIA Rail cancelled all train passenger service across Canada, after Canadian National Railway closed its entire, eastern Canada network, in response to anti-pipeline solidarity blockades [8].

Anarchists in Coast Salish territory sabotaged Whatcom County, Washington, rail traffic at multiple points along the major rail line that connects Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle, preventing transport to and from two of Washington’s five refineries [9].  On Sunday, February 16, pipeline protesters blockaded train tracks in Seattle [10].  Activists have targeted relatively indefensible railroads, “because [they have] a long history aiding in the colonization and confederation of Turtle Island and the displacement and death of Indigenous people, with deep economic impacts” [9].  Unlike comparatively tame, symbolic climate strikes, all of these demonstrations of local people taking power into their own hands have compounded adverse effects on business-as-usual and national economies, and have discouraged potential investors in various energy projects.

Learn more about Wet’suwet’en resistance to colonization and fossil fuels, and amplify support through this toolkit that includes a donation link to the legal fund and more ways to help out [11].  Besides attending a rally, please contact the politicians enabling police violence, to demand that they stop this invasion, and respect Wet’suwet’en rights and title to their territory.  Email Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca.  Wet’suwet’en clans urgently request international actions, in responsive solidarity with indigenous community members standing up for their sovereignty and struggling against the greed, dominance, and threats of oppressive, settler governments and industrial capitalism that buttresses these systems, especially this largest ever, private sector investment project in Canada, which would expand fracked gas extraction and transportation [12].  Rising Tide North America, WIRT, and friends are planning and encouraging coordination and participation in demonstrations in Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane on Friday, February 21, together in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and in resistance to unacceptable, industry and government practices.

[1] RCMP Arrive at Unist’ot’en Camp in Helicopters; Leave Without Arrests, February 8, 2020 The Tyee

[2] RCMP Land Helicopters at Unist’ot’en Gate, February 8, 2020 Unist’ot’en Camp

[3] All Eyes on Wet’suwet’en, February 8, 2020 Indigenous Environmental Network

[4] Share Widely – This morning at approximately 4:30 am…, February 6, 2020 Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidimt’en Territory

[5] Unist’ot’en Territory, February 10, 2020 — A convoy of armed RCMP tactical units…, February 10, 2020 Unist’ot’en Camp

[6] Unist’ot’en Matriarchs Arrested. Stand with Unist’ot’en Now! February 10, 2020 Unist’ot’en Camp

[7] Hamilton: Simultaneous Rail Sabotage at Bottlenecks in Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Land Defenders, January 7, 2020 North Shore Counter-Info

[8] VIA Rail Shutting Down Passenger Service in Canada due to Blockades, February 13, 2020 CityNews Toronto

[9] “This Is Insurrection”: #ShutDownCanada Action “Cancels Trains Nationwide” as Acts of Sabotage Continue, February 13, 2020 It’s Going Down

[10] By 2 pm on Sunday, February 16, activists shut down train tracks in Seattle…, February 16, 2020 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[11] Wet’suwet’en Strong: Supporter Toolkit, Unist’ot’en Camp

[12] International Solidarity: Time is Now! All Out for Wet’suwet’en, Harsha Walia

3 thoughts on “Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions

  1. Pingback: Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions & February WIRT & Allied Events | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

  2. Pingback: Idaho: Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions Supporting Indigenous Rights – Rising Tide North America

  3. Pingback: President Sanders, Black Snake Killaz, Rescheduled WIRT Meetings, Wet’suwet’en Solidarity | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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