February 18, 2020 – The Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet) stands in solidarity with the Hereditary Chiefs, community members, and land defenders of Wet’suwet’en.
We recognize the sovereignty of the Wet’suwet’en Nation over these unceded lands and that all of the Hereditary Chiefs of the five Wet’suwet’en Clans have rejected the proposed TC Energy Coastal GasLink pipeline. We call on the RCMP to immediately stand down from Wet’suwet’en Territories.
The Canadian Government has committed to restoring relationships with Indigenous peoples. Indigenous title is protected by the Canadian Constitution and has been upheld by decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada. Both the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP – endorsed by Canada in 2016 and by BC in 2019) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission affirm the fundamental principle of “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” not just of the elected band councils, but also of the clans and the Hereditary Chiefs. We call on federal and provincial governments to uphold UNDRIP in honouring the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s right to Free, Prior and Informed consent and negotiate with the Wet’suwet’en Nation on a true nation-to-nation basis.
With deep respect for Indigenous traditional knowledge, CCEDNet recognizes the inextricable links between extractive capitalism and colonialism, and advocates for economic levers for change that contribute to community and environmental well-being.
Wet’suwet’en people are standing up to protect the lands and waters and showing the world what it means to defend the future through democratic, participatory, and community-owned approaches. In doing so, they are also affirming sovereignty over the care and keeping of our common home – the original definition of ‘economy.’
Construction costs alone for the Coastal GasLink pipeline are estimated at $6.6 billion. This figure does not account for the expense of RCMP deployment; neither does it include the billions of dollars in subsidies that the Canadian government pays to the oil and gas industry every year.
A number of Wet’suwet’en First Nations have signed Impact Benefit Agreements and would derive economic opportunities important to their communities. But imagine if an equivalent investment was instead made in a just transition toward an ecological economy built through co-operation and decolonization. We would be able to address the climate crisis with the resources and urgency it demands, while ensuring access to vital community services and decent work.
In this era of climate crisis, it’s more important than ever for the decisions that impact communities to be rooted in local knowledge and led by communities. Wet’suwet’en land defenders are teaching us all how to stand up for an economic reality that honours the earth and all beings – prioritizing community well-being over corporate profits.
We call for investments to build a society where all people and communities, now and into the future, may experience a good quality of life. We call on our members, collaborators, friends, and allies to join in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation by condemning ongoing colonial violence against Indigenous people and communities, including forced removal, and by uplifting the voices and actions of land defenders and allies.
The Canadian Community Economic Development Network
Want to understand the situation more deeply?
We encourage people to keep learning and doing their own research, and offer a few resources below:
- Unist’ot’en Camp released a statement on the emerging situation on January 9 and again on February 10 and will continue to post updates here
- The Office of the Wet’suwet’en and Unist’ot’en both provide detailed information on the nation’s Hereditary Chiefs and governance system
- For analysis of Indigenous legal orders and hereditary governance systems more broadly, the Indigenous Law Research Unit at the University of Victoria hosts a wealth of resources on their website
- A piece on the differences between elected and hereditary leadership (CBC)
- The Wet’suwet’en, Aboriginal Title, and the Rule of Law: An Explainer (First People’s Law)
- Second Wet’suwet’en hereditary subchief speaks out against protest leaders (Globe and Mail)
- Putting the RCMP raid on the Wet’suwet’en in Historical Perspective (Toronto Star)
- United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination resolution calling for a halt to Coastal GasLink construction
Want to find a way to offer support?
- to the Unist’ot’en Camp Legal Fund to support the Wet’suwet’en rights and title case
- to the Gidimt’en Access Point
- to the Office of the Wet’suwet’en by mailing a cheque to 205 Beaver Road, Suite #1 Smithers B.C. V0J 2N1
Explore the supporter toolkit: Unist’ot’en Camp has published the Wet’suwet’en Supporter Toolkit 2020
Follow Unist’ot’en: on Facebook and Twitter
Sign the pledge: Join thousands of organizations and individuals in signing the pledge in support of Unist’ot’en.
This page has been set up so you can send an email directly to relevant Federal cabinet ministers and BC Provincial cabinet ministers calling on the RCMP and Coastal Gas Link to respect Unist’ot’en/Giltseyu-Dark House on their unceded lands.
Call provincial and federal ministers:
- BC Premier John Horgan (2