Canada must drop the charges against criminalized land defenders who are protecting Wet’suwet’en territory from the construction of a gas pipeline, and their right to decide what happens on their ancestral land.
What’s the problem?
The chiefs of the Indigenous Wet’suwet’en Nation have long opposed the construction of a pipeline through their land. Yet the pipeline company (Coastal GasLink) and Canadian authorities are building it anyway, without the free prior and informed consent from the Nation and without addressing their concerns.
The pipeline has already caused environmental destruction and cut the Wet’suwet’en people off from their ancestral territory. They have been unable to perform many of their traditional activities, such as hunting and fishing, because the forest has been damaged by construction sites.
Access to much of the land is restricted except for the pipeline company, its private security company, and Canadian police. Often times when the Wet’suwet’en people go on their own land, they are intimidated and harassed by Canadian police and the private security company. Their cabins have been burned down, the police have raided their camps and confiscated their belongings, the women have experienced gender-based harassment, and much more.
Land defenders who take action to protect the territory and stop the pipeline have been surveilled, intimidated, and arrested. Now, several of them face criminal charges – and possibly prison time.
The Wet’suwet’en Nation has the right to decide what forms of economic development should take place on their ancestral lands with free, prior and informed consent. They have the right to live in safety, free from surveillance, harassment, criminalization, and gender-based violence. The continued construction of the pipeline is unlawful and unethical.
The Canadian government must do the following:
- Immediately drop the charges against the criminalized land defenders who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline;
- Stop construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline that is cutting through Wet’suwet’en land without the free, prior and informed consent of the Wet’suwet’en people;
- Stop pursuing other megaprojects on Indigenous territories without genuinely consulting with and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples.
What can you do to help?
Send an email to the government of Canada right now to relay these demands.