By World BEYOND War, December 2, 2021
Montréal for a World BEYOND War is showing up in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders! Here is a solidarity statement written by the chapter, followed by news coverage of their members demonstrating in Montreal.
Solidarity Statement: Montréal for a World BEYOND War Supports Wet’suwet’en Land Defense
Montréal for a World BEYOND War is a chapter of World BEYOND War, a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace. Our chapter seeks to make Canada a force for peace in the world, by debunking myths used to justify war and challenging our government to correct policies that perpetuate violence and war.
We live in a moment of incredible portent and opportunity for humanity. A pandemic that began in March 2020 reminds us of our own mortality and of the things that matter—a list that does not include investments or pipelines.
Twenty-twenty-one has been quite a year. In Canada, British Columbia was ravaged by forest fires, followed by rain and flooding, while in November, the East coast was pummeled by torrential rains. And yet, these “natural” disasters are clearly man made. Last spring, the BC government allowed vast amounts of rainforest to be cut down. Despite the efforts of protesters, none of those in power had the wisdom to foresee that clearcutting ancient forests would upset the balance of nature–come fall, water which would normally have been absorbed by the trees was instead dumped on the farmlands beyond, causing catastrophic flooding.
Similarly, the BC government’s decision to allow the TC Energy Corp to build its Coastal Gaslink (CGL) pipeline to deliver fracked methane gas from northwestern British Columbia to an LNG export facility on the West Coast is something that can only end badly for humanity. The BC government acted without authority—the territory in question is Wet’suwet’en territory, which the hereditary chiefs have never relinquished. The Canadian government used the pretext that the Wet’suwet’un band council chiefs had consented to the project—but the reality is that these convenience governments have no legal jurisdiction over the unceded territory.
Nonetheless work on the pipeline project went ahead and the Wet’suwet’un were forced to retaliate, by blocking access to the CGL worksite. In February 2020, armed police officers decended with helicopters and dogs to arrest Wet’suwet’en matriarchs, oblivious to the irony of this intervention, just four months after Horgan’s NDP government had signed Bill C-15, intended to apply the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian law. On the Yintah and across Canada, about 80 individuals were arrested.
Despite widespread protests and rail blockades that followed, the federal Liberals and the BC NDP governments remained obdurate in their determination to go ahead with a project that pits colonial values of individualism, financial gain, and hegemony over nature against indigenous values of community, sharing and respect for the natural world.
Again on November 18th and 19th 2021, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) carried out a militarized invasion on Wet’suwet’en Territory and again there were arrests. Using axes, chainsaws, assault rifles, and attack dogs, the RCMP arrested over 30 people including legal observers, journalists, Indigenous elders, and matriarchs, including Molly Wickham (Sleydo), spokesperson for the Gidim’ten clan. The government subsequently released these people—but the prospect remains that there will be a next time, and a next. At a time when all the world is in crisis, and needs to move away from fossil fuels, the Canadian government is determined to push through a pipeline on indigenous territory.
Montréal for a World BEYOND War hereby states our solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people in their defiance of the Justin Trudeau Liberals, federally, and the John Horgan NDP, in BC.
- We respect and acknowledge the sovereignty of the Wet’suwet’en people over their traditional territories. In January 4, 2020, the Wet’suwet’un hereditary chiefs issued an eviction notice to CGL, which still stands.
- We salute the sacrifices that leaders like Molly Wickham are making in terms of their time, energy and physical wellbeing and we are profoundly grateful for their heroic efforts, even as we are ashamed of our own government.
- We call on our government to cease work on this misguided methane gas pipeline, remove all pipeline workers from the Yintah, desist from harassing indigenous people on their own lands, and make reparations for the property that was destroyed.
We applaud and echo the call to action from indigenous writer Jesse Wente in his book Unreconciled:
“Stop the endless consumption. Stop the endless work to feed that consumption. Stop the hoarding—of everything, by so few. Stop the police; stop them from killing us, stop them from provoking us in order to imprison us. Stop the nationalism that blinds so many to the failure and corruption of their leaders, that sows division when we most need to rely on one another. Stop keeping people poor and sick. Just. Stop.”
“What I’m asking now is for all of you to … cast aside your fear of an unknown future and embrace this moment as an opportunity to build the country that Canada has always aspired to be—the one it pretends to be—one that recognizes the inevitable failure built into colonialism, one that recognizes Indigenous sovereignty as crucial to the realization of Canadian sovereignty. This is the Canada our ancestors envisioned when they signed the peace and friendship treaties: a collective of nations, living as they want, sharing the land mutually.”
News coverage of Montréal for a World BEYOND War showing up in solidarity
Listen to chapter members Sally Livingston, Michael Dworkind, and Cym Gomery in CTV Montreal’s coverage of a recent #WetsuwetenStrong protest.
Below are a couple of news reports and live video featuring Montreal for a World BEYOND War chapter members.
Montrealers demonstrate at RCMP building in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en
By Dan Spector, Global News
Hundreds of people gathered for a loud protest at the RCMP’s Quebec headquarters in Montreal on Saturday afternoon.
They were demonstrating in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people who oppose a natural gas pipeline project that would run through the First Nation’s territory in northern British Columbia.
“How would you like it if each of you went home today and the RCMP is saying, ‘No, you can’t go in here,’” said Montreal-based Wet’suwet’en elder Marlene Hale, who played a drum to kick off the protest.
Just over a week ago the RCMP arrested 15 people, including two journalists.
The RCMP was enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court-ordered injunction that stops opponents from impeding access to Coastal GasLink’s activities, permitted under Canadian law.
“Shame on you! Go away!” the crowd yelled in unison.
Archie Fineberg said at almost 80 years old, it was the first protest he’d ever attended.
“It’s time that the Indigenous people in Canada stop being abused and it’s time for the Canadian people, starting with the government, to respect the commitments they have made,” he said.
Environmentalists and other groups also joined the rally, which was watched closely by a large contingent of Montreal police in riot gear. They kept the demonstrators from getting close to the doors of the RCMP building.
“I came down from Kanesatake,” said Alan Harrington. “To show solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation against the trespassing and the terrorism that the RCMP is doing on our on our Indigenous people.”
After some spirited speeches, the rally turned into a march through downtown Montreal.
Montrealers march outside RCMP building in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs
By Iman Kassam and Luca Caruso-Moro, CTV
MONTREAL — Hundreds of Montrealers gathered in Westmount Saturday in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in the midst of a standoff with the RCMP and the Coastal GasLink company.
The protest took place infront of the RCMP headquarters, where marchers denounced what they call illegal treatment of land defenders.
Tensions near the west-coast Indigenous community came to a head last Friday when federal police arrested 15 people – including two journalists – following a series of protests that blocked road access to the pipe construction site.
“This is what’s happening in Canada? No!” said protestor Sally Livingston. “This has to stop. Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en all the way.”
For years, traditional Wet’suwet’en leaders have been trying to halt construction of the pipeline, which would transport natural gas from Dawson Creek in northeastern BC to Kitimat on the coast.