Idaho: Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions Supporting Indigenous Rights

cross-posted from Wild Idaho Rising Tide

via Wild Idaho Rising Tide

Media contact: Helen Yost, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, wild.idaho.rising.tide@gmail.com, 208-301-8039

Friday, February 21, Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions Supporting Indigenous Rights

  • 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, 350Sandpoint Climate Strike
  • 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

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), #No2ndBridge, and regional, climate activists are hosting demonstrations in Spokane, Washington, and Moscow and Sandpoint, Idaho, on Friday, February 21, in solidarity with five Wet’suwet’en Nation clans in west central British Columbia (B.C.) defending their sovereignty from Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) invasions imposing TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) construction of the Coastal GasLink (CGL) fracked gas pipeline from northeastern B.C., across unceded, Wet’suwet’en territories, to an unbuilt, liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Kitimat, B.C.  The clans’ hereditary chiefs have not provided their free, prior, and informed consent, as required by law, and have unanimously opposed the pipeline and police occupations.  They closed the Morice West Road into their lands and on January 4, evicted CGL from their territories, where it was building housing for 400-plus workers.

Amid rising tensions, RCMP attempted to enforce a December 2019, B.C. Supreme Court injunction that seeks to block Wet’suwet’en people from their traditional lands, by establishing an exclusion zone that eases CGL access to pipeline sites.  On February 6 to 10, militarized police with rifles, dogs, vehicles, and helicopters staged multiple raids of two Gidimt’en clan camps and checkpoints along the road, and the Unist’ot’en clan’s healing center beyond the gated, Morice River bridge.  At gunpoint, they detained journalists, arrested and removed 28 tribal members and supporters, some while in ceremony, towed resident vehicles, and dismantled camps, sacred fires, and dozens of red dresses strung along the road to symbolize the missing and murdered, indigenous women and girls victimized by transient, pipeline “man camps.”

Denouncing Canada’s failed reconciliation processes with First Nations, indigenous and allied, frontline activists across Canada and around the Earth have sustained scores of protests, marching, rallying, and blockading at government offices and buildings, city streets and highways, and ports and train tracks.  Canadian and western Washington sabotage and blockades of relatively indefensible rail lines connecting ports, refineries, and passenger and freight traffic have caused major railroad networks to cancel services, discouraged investments in energy projects, and disrupted business-as-usual, national economies.

Inland Northwest solidarity actions support Wet’suwet’en rights and title to their lands and waters and increasing, worldwide opposition to fossil fuels extraction, transportation, infrastructure, and pollution risks and impacts to public and environmental health and safety, which privatize public police and officials and criminalize land, water, and climate protectors.  Protest organizers encourage participants to learn more about Wet’suwet’en resistance to colonization, contact Canadian politicians to demand that they stop police violence, donate toward the Wet’suwet’en legal fund, and attend a demonstration in Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane on Friday, February 21.  For further issue and event information and ideas for relevant signs and banners, please see Wet’suwet’en supporter toolkits [1, 2], the international solidarity actions page [3], WIRT website and facebook event posts [4, 5], and the attached flyer.  Dress for winter warmth and dryness, bring friends, family, and creative signs, assist with carpools to these community events, and contact WIRT with your questions and suggestions.

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

[2] Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Art Kit

[3] When Justice Fails: Wet’suwet’en Strong Solidarity Actions, February 16, 2020 Harsha Walia

[4] Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions, February 16, 2020 Wild Idaho Rising Tide (website)

[5] Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions, February 16, 2020 Wild Idaho Rising Tide (facebook)

 

Guardian: New train blockade piles pressure on Trudeau in Wet’suwet’en pipeline fight

cross-posted from the Guardian

via Cuzzins for Wet’suwet’en

New train blockade piles pressure on Trudeau in Wet’suwet’en pipeline fight

Group of about 20 blocked Canadian National Railway Co rail line near Edmonton, capital of the western province of Alberta

Demonstrators opposed to a Canadian gas pipelinehave blockaded another railway line in the west of the country, adding to pressure on Justin Trudeau to solve a two-week protest.

Freight traffic in eastern Canada has already been stopped for days after campaigners blockaded a main line in Ontario. Protesters across the country have taken up the cause of the Wet’suwet’en indigenous people who are seeking to stop the C$6.6bn (US$4.98bn) Coastal GasLink gas pipeline project in British Columbia.

On Wednesday, a group of about 20 people blocked a Canadian National Railway Co rail line near Edmonton, the capital of the western province of Alberta.

“They’re on the CN property, and we’re working with the CN police to resolve it,” a local police spokesman, Barry Maron, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Television footage showed the group standing on the rails behind a banner that read “No pipelines on stolen land.” The company said it was assessing legal options.

Trudeau, who insists his government will not use force against the protesters, toughened his language on Wednesday, calling the disruptions unacceptable.

The blockades pose a delicate challenge for Trudeau, who says one of his main priorities is to improve relations with Canada’s marginalized and impoverished indigenous population.

“This government is working extremely hard to resolve this situation. We know people are facing shortages, they’re facing disruptions, they’re facing layoffs – that’s unacceptable,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

His tone was noticeably harsher than in a speech he gave to legislators on Tuesday in which he stressed the importance of “dialogue and mutual respect”.

Canada’s main opposition parties say the federal government should send in police to clear the blockades, which are also hitting Quebec, Canada’s second most populous province.

Quebec’s premier, François Legault, on Wednesday demanded Trudeau come up with a timetable to end the blockades.

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Rabble.Ca: Rail blockades are proving to be an effective non-violent response to state violence

cross-posted from Rabble.ca

via Rabble.ca

Rail blockades are proving to be an effective non-violent response to state violence

by Brent Patterson

In the early hours of February 6, militarized Canadian police began a five-day long assault on the unceded and sovereign territory of the Wet’suwet’en people in northern British Columbia to facilitate the construction of a fracked gas pipeline that lacks that nation’s consent.

Nine days later, Wet’suwet’en land defender Dinize Ste ohn tsiy tweeted that a heavy RCMP presence on Wet’suwet’en territory continues.

In response to this violation of the rule of law (notably the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), Indigenous peoples and allies took to the rails to demand that the RCMP and TC Energy Coastal GasLink, the company behind the controversial pipeline, remove themselves from Wet’suwet’en territory.

Hours after the invasion began, the Mohawks established a blockade on the railway tracks near Belleville, Ontario. By Saturday, February 8, the Gitxsan had established a blockade on the railway line near New Hazelton, British Columbia.

Several other railway blockades were also soon established across the country by Indigenous peoples and allies including near Montreal, Quebec; Listuguj, Quebec; Headingley, Manitoba; Port Coquitlam, British Columbia; and Toronto, Ontario.

And this morning (Saturday, February 15), Climate Justice Toronto tweeted that the “2nd Largest Rail Classification Yard in Canada Blockaded” adding, “Folks have blockaded US-bound CN rail tracks in North York in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en!” That means that all trains going west to Hamilton, London, New York and Michigan are now blocked.

The impacts?

The Gitxsan blockade effectively shut down all activity at the Port of Prince Rupert, with more than 150 freight trains unable to move in or out of that port. Furthermore, 18 container ships in Prince Rupert and 48 ships in Vancouver could neither pick up or unload their shipments.

The Mohawk blockade resulted in the cancellation of all passenger travel between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and CN shutting down its operations in eastern Canada.

Mainstream media reports have highlighted some of the numbers: CN Rail said it transports more than $250 billion worth of goods annually; VIA Rail said it transported 5 million passengers across Canada in 2019; and that an eight-day CN Rail strike last year cost the economy between $1 billion and $2.2 billion, and CN $100 million in lost earnings.

Less reported in the news is that the railway system also transports about 300,000 barrels of oil (bitumen) everyday in this country and between 30-40 million tonnes of coal each year. And now mainstream media reports have focused on how municipal water systems may run out of chlorine to treat drinking water (without much, if any, contextualization about ongoing boil water advisories in Indigenous communities).

The reaction?

British Columbia’s NDP Premier John Horgan commented: “I respect everyone’s right to lawful protest but when you’re interfering with the operation of the economy at the ports and through the city here in the Lower Mainland, that becomes a challenge…”

Outgoing Conservative party Leader Andrew Scheer exclaimed: “These protesters, these activists, may have the luxury of spending days at a time at a blockade, but they need to check their privilege, they need to check their privilege and let people whose job depends on the railway system — small business, farmers — do their job.”

Walking Eagle News (a satire news website) mocked Scheer by tweeting: “Career politician who lives in taxpayer-funded house and whose party paid for his kid’s private school says Indigenous people blocking rail lines need to check their privilege.”

And Scheer’s possible successor as party leader Erin O’Toole released a video in which he said he “will fight to take back Canada” along with a tweet in which he said, “I will enforce the law and push back against eco-extremists.”

The theory of change

Do you remember politicians, transnational corporations and their lobby groups responding in this way to online petitions, letters to the editor, leafleting or rallies? No, not likely.  Is it instructive (and patronizing) to be told by politicians the acceptable ways to protest? Most definitely.

In April 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from a jail cell: “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”

We have a long way to go, perhaps, before the RCMP and Coastal GasLink are removed from Wet’suwet’en territories as the blockaders demand.

It is notable, however, that the Trudeau government has dispatched Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller to meet with the Mohawks this weekend and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett to meet with the Gitxsan.

Political crisis/revolutionary moment?

A political crisis is created when there is no apparent answer to the situation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated: “We are not the kind of country where politicians get to tell the police what to do in operational matters.”

And Transport Minister Marc Garneau said: “When injunctions are obtained by the train companies, it is up to the provinces. They are the ones who have the jurisdiction to act with respect to those injunctions. It is not the federal government.”

That said, police raids and injunctions aren’t likely to stop the exposure of blockades on the 49,422 kilometres of rail lines in this country.

The government’s hypocrisy about the rule of law (legal experts highlight that government actions have been in violation of Canada’s binding international law obligations and therefore illegal) or the opposition leader’s comment about “privilege” (when wealth accumulation in this country has been based on the dispossession of Indigenous people from their land and their continued immiseration) only serve to underscore the crisis.

Furthermore, Vancouver Island-based Mohawk scholar Gerald Taiaiake Alfred suggested this could even be a revolutionary moment.

He said: “I can remember saying 15, 20 years ago, that if we ever had a development in our movement where the power of Indigenous nationhood and Indigenous rights could be melded and brought together with the power of young Canadians who are committed to the environment and social justice, it would be revolutionary.”

It remains to be seen how this will all develop, but it is clear that an impactful non-violent strategy is now being employed to counter the state violence of both the police repression of unarmed Wet’suwet’en land defenders and the continued imposition of fossil fuel infrastructure that only deepens the global climate crisis.

Brent Patterson is a political activist and writer.

Unistoten.Camp: Six Land Defenders Violently Arrested on Wet’suwet’en Territories

cross-posted from Unistoten.camp

[Breaking story, info incoming] February 6, 2020:

Six people have been arrested and several others, including members of the press, have been detained and removed from Wet’suwet’en territories in an aggressive pre-dawn raid by RCMP on behalf of Coastal GasLink (TC Energy). Reports and footage are coming in from the siege. Dogs were used, media was banned from filming arrests. Militarized police with night vision and automatic weapons raided the camp in the dead of night.

Legal Fund 

Supporter Toolkit 

All photos by Jesse Winter @jwints

All photos by Jesse Winter @jwints