Through teary eyes, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau offered a “long, overdue apology” in November 2017 to Indigenous populations who had suffered at the hands of the Canadian state. “Saying that we are sorry today is not enough,” he continued, “it will not… undo the harm.”
But for as long as Trudeau continues Canada’s colonial legacy, his tears are worthless. And in the latest chapter of Trudeau’s subservience to corporate interests, Canadian state forces have invaded Indigenous land to defend a gas pipeline.
During what Canadian activist Naomi Klein described as “a shameful day for Canada”, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raided protected Wet’suwet’en territory in the west of the country on 7 January. Those protecting the land’s boundaries captured the moment the RCMP – some heavily armed and wearing balaclavas – forcibly entered:
The moment RCMP came over the gates and started making arrests to enforce the Coastal GasLink injunction. pic.twitter.com/n6Cy1RLUu4
— ChantelleBellrichard (@pieglue) January 8, 2019
The Wet’suwet’en people have “unanimously opposed all pipeline proposals”. And they are resisting a court injunction ordering them to grant the Coastal GasLink project – operated by Canadian corporation TransCanada (which is currently considering a name change) – access to infrastructure within their territory. They claim the proposed pipeline is a threat to their rights, means of survival, and way of life.
Freda Huson, a spokesperson for one of the Wet’suwet’en clans, said:
I am here in my home, on my land… Without water, no human will survive and these projects like TransCanada’s Coastal Gaslink threatens the water.
Not the first time
For not the first time in Trudeau’s administration, Indigenous groups are claiming that the government did not adequately consult them about pipeline plans. Moreover, Article 10 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that “Indigenous Peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their land or territories”. So the invasion of Wet’suwet’en land and the subsequent arrest of 14 people seems to be in clear violation of international law.
The RCMP’s mobilisation into First Nations territory is also symbolically important. Though people romantically refer to them as the ‘mounties’, the RCMP was central to the dispossession of Indigenous groups during the “Great March West” of the 1800s. According to historian Katherine Pettipas, they were “employed to assert Canada’s hegemony in the Western interior”.
The world is watching
Protests across Canada quickly spread into expressions of solidarity worldwide:
After the brutal raid by Canadian federal cops on #Wetsuweten land defenders stopping a fracked gas pipeline solidarity actions are under way in over 60 cities around the world.
— submedia (@submedia) January 9, 2019
And the Wet’suwet’en people responded by saying that they are “humbled by the outpouring of solidarity”:
We are are humbled by the outpouring of solidarity and support for our Wet'suwet'en people. We expect RCMP tomorrow. We are still fundraising for our legal battle in the colonial courts. Please donate. #unistoten #Wetsuweten #nopipelines https://t.co/mSAWhsMw9I
— Unist'ot'en Camp (@UnistotenCamp) January 9, 2019
Trudeau’s pandering to corporate interests threatens both Indigenous people and the environment. So we must look past his tears. Because the assault on Indigenous rights is unacceptable; and it exposes Trudeau for what he really is – just another corporate stooge.
Only sustained global pressure and solidarity can end this.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?