The Wet’suwet’en Nation’s unceded traditional territory is in the province of British Columbia, Canada. For several years now, Wet’suwet’en land defenders have been harassed, intimidated, forcibly removed and criminalized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for opposing the construction of the Coastal Gaslink (CGL) pipeline on their territories.
urge canada to STOP criminalizING land defenders
Join Write for Rights and write letters and ask British Columbia to drop the charges against Wet’suwet’en land defenders. Defending their ancestral lands and waters is not a crime. It is part of our solution to the climate crisis.
The Wet’suwet’en have never given up their title to their unceded, ancestral territory. The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs are the authorities of the Nation according to Wet’suwet’en law and as affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision. They oppose the pipeline’s construction on behalf of all five Wet’suwet’en clans. Nevertheless, pipeline construction is proceeding without the free, prior and informed consent of the Wet’suwent’en Nation.
Their lifestyle and traditions are being affected by the construction of the CGL pipeline. The Wedzin Kwa (Morice River) in Wet’suwet’en territory is one of the last sources of fresh water and salmon spawning grounds. The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs fear that the construction of the pipeline is damaging their rivers. As stated by Chief Woos;
“Our water reserve, water sources, waterways, and wildlife pattern have all been disrupted by the pipeline. Our natural harvesting of the salmon I’m sure is going to be disrupted. Our peaceful existence together has been disrupted.Chief Woos
Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their supporters who oppose the construction of the pipeline experience surveillance, harassment, intimidation, and unlawful arrest at the hands of the pipeline’s private security company and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Twenty land defenders were charged with criminal contempt (in June and July 2022) by the British Columbia Prosecution Service. They allegedly disobeyed an injunction order to stay away from pipeline construction sites, even though these sites are situated on the Nation’s unceded, ancestral territory.
Five of the land defenders pled guilty in December 2022. As a result of their bail conditions, they were prohibited from being on the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s territory and any other extractive projects across Canada. Five others had the charges dropped against them, and one is awaiting next steps.
The remaining nine land defenders have already started trial in May 2023 or await trial in October 2023 and January 2024. If found guilty, they could be sentenced to prison.