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All Eyes On Wet'suwet'en - protect the Wedzin Kwa

Brian Champ

November 1, 2021
The ongoing struggle over control of Wet'suwet'en territory is heating up again as the pristine headwaters of the river Wedzin Kwa are under imminent threat from CGL drill rigs. The Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs are asserting control over their territory and are again calling for actions to stop the CGL pipeline.
In 1997, the supreme court of so-called Canada agreed that the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs alone have sovereignty over these lands. But the federal and provincial governments, provincial courts, RCMP and CGL have all acted as if the constitutional question doesn't exist, continuing the settler colonial policies Canada is built on.
Again and again the Wet'suwet'en people have asserted their right to "free, prior and informed consent" over all matters on their lands, which they have lived on for tens of thousands of years. These rights have been continually denied. 
In 2019, Wet'suwe'ten land defenders and supporters were violently arrested for blocking CGL employees on their own unceded territory, leading to protests from coast to coast. 
On January 4, 2020, the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs evicted CGL from their territory, asserting their sovereignty. The BC government declared a state of emergency, authorizing the RCMP to set up roadblocks and eventually invade and arrest dozens of land defenders standing in their way. The image of the RCMP chainsawing through a sign that read "Reconciliation" on the bridge to Unist'ot'en camp captured the truth: Reconciliation is Dead. 
When Freda Huson from Unist'ot'en camp called for people to #ShutDownCanada, Indigenous people ran to the frontlines on rail, road and port blockades all across the country, and were joined by unprecedented numbers of settler allies. This included ILWU 502 workers at Deltaport treating a road blockade as a picket line. At the height of the actions, the business world was reeling from $425 million of goods being stranded daily and mass disruption of trade routes. 
The federal government was forced to the table with the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs and the blockades came down. Before new actions could be called the Covid-19 pandemic shut down Canada again. 
After a short lull, CGL construction continued on the Yintah through the months of the pandemic with characteristic destruction. In September, 2021 an open letter by 25 archaeologists decried the destruction of an archaeological site at Lamprey Creek, arguing that this could erase the culture of the creek and its landscape. Nevertheless CGL continued construction, coming near to the lifeblood of the territory, the river Wedzin Kwa, preparing to drill under it. In late September, with these pristine and sacred headwaters under threat, Wet'suwet'en land defenders and water protectors occupied the drill rig location, mobilized heavy machinery to block access to man camps and the drill site and called out for urgent support.
On October 27th, when Chief Dtsa’Hyl of the Likhts’amisyu went to go into their unceded territory, it was blocked by heavy machinery. Gidimt’en Checkpoint spokesperson Sleydo’ reported that Chief Dtsa’Hyl of the Likhts’amisyu and Kolin Sutherland-Wilson of the Gitxsan fireweed clan were arrested by RCMP forces. Likhts’amisyu and Gidimt'en are two of the five clans of Wet'suwet'en. Sleydo' reported more RCMP on the territory and that the land defenders desperately needed support: "We need everybody to get your boots on the ground. Please come to camp. We need support for Likhts’amisyu. Support the Wet’suwet’en in the struggle that we’ve been on for ten years now. We need everybody to just shut shit down. Wherever you are, whatever you can do. If you can’t get here, you need to start making noise, start making a fuss. Get things going wherever you are.”
These words are echoed by Sklyer Williams, the spokesperson for 1492 Landback Lane: "The Haudenosaunee people are here in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en. To amplify, to support, to do whatever it is that we need to do in order to make sure that our people are taken care protect their lands for future generations... If you can't get here to get boots on the ground...then we need to be making sure that we are on every bit of colonial infrastructure.” 
This week, Six Nations land defenders have set up a road blockade on the Highway 6 bypass between Greens Road and Argyle Street in Caledonia in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en people. 
#ShutDownCanada in 2020 showed that support for Indigenous sovereignty is stronger than it's ever been. The explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement globally, the confirmation of Indigenous genocide at former IRS sites that has detected over 7,000 graves and the wildfires, floods and extreme weather events has radicalized many more people who are questioning the settler colonial capitalism of Canada. 
It's time to shut down Canada again in 2021 in support of the Wet'suwet'en people, building the links with 1492 Landback Lane on Six Nations treaty territory, the Tiny House Warriors on unceded Secwepemc territory and the many more struggles of Indigenous peoples asserting their rights to traditional territories.
Look for updates on:
IG @yintah_access  @1492landbacklane  @officialtinyhousewarriors 
FB @Gidimt'en Checkpoint    @1492 Land Back Lane     @Tiny House Warriors
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