Smithers (BC) – On Jan 8, 2020, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs representing all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation met with RCMP Deputy Commissioner and Commanding Officer Jennifer Strachan to reaffirm our opposition to the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline and to urge the RCMP to stand down.
While no agreement regarding the current enforcement order was made with the Deputy Commissioner, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs expressed the following directives to the RCMP:
- that police stand down and refrain from enforcing the injunction order until nation-to-nation talks can occur with the provincial and federal governments to address infringements to Wet’suwet’en rights and title.
- that the remote detachment established by the RCMP on Wet’suwet’en territory be immediately removed.
- that no force or lethal weapons be used against Wet’suwet’en people and our supporters.
- that RCMP refrain from preventing Wet’suwet’en people and our guests from accessing our territories. Currently, the RCMP has advised local helicopter companies not to fly into Unist’ot’en territory, endangering the safety of Wet’suwet’en people and guests at the Gidimt’en Access Point and Unist’ot’en Village.
- that Wet’suwet’en people must not be forcibly removed or evicted from our own unceded territories.
- that Wet’suwet’en people and our supporters will remain peaceful on the front lines.
Our Dinï ze’ and Ts’akë ze’ expressed concern at broad language in the enforcement order that allows arrest for those the RCMP has “reasonable and probable grounds to believe is or has contravened the order.” This broad provision would allow officers to make arrests based on suspicion, rumour, profiling, or hearsay. The Hereditary Chiefs requested that the Commander clarify with operational officers how this provision may be enforced so that it is not abused by individual RCMP officers.
Contrary to public statements made by the RCMP, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs affirmed that we have never requested the establishment of the Community Industry Safety Office (CISO). This temporary detachment on Gisday’wa territory has served to harass, intimidate, and criminalize Wet’suwet’en people on our own lands. The CISO has been illegally occupied by the Community Industry Response Group (CIRG) since January of 2019, and has interfered with the constitutionally protected rights of Wet’suwet’en people to access our territories for hunting, trapping, and ceremony.
We will continue dialogue with the RCMP with the objective of meeting our directives. We urge RCMP to respect Wet’suwet’en law, and to comply with recommendations made by the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), including the guarantee of our right to require Free, Prior, and Informed Consent for any industrial use of our territory.
Media Coordinator, Jennifer Wickham, Gidimt’en Clan:
(778) 210 – 0067