OTTAWA – Green Party of Canada Leader, Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands), stands with the Wet’suwet’en in their protest against the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Yesterday she showed her solidarity in marching at the Vancouver rally.
The enforcement of an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en at the Unist’ot’en checkpoint raises very complex issues of title and legality, said Ms. May. “The RCMP’s militarized approach to the arrests, including forcing Indigenous protesters to the ground to be handcuffed, was far different from its approach to arrests at Burnaby Mountain during protests against the Kinder Morgan Transmountain pipeline expansion.
"Many media outlets report that the project received approval from the elected band council. But that system of governance is created by the Indian Act,” said Ms. May. “In the case of the Wet’suwet’en, the community established that the band council only had authority over reserve lands and not over the Wet’suwet’en territories, lands recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Delgamuukw decision as unceded.
“This legal complexity was not recognized by the lower court in granting the injunction. To ensure that the question of inherent rights and title are honoured, we call on the federal government to ask the RCMP to stand down while an appeal can be heard on the requirement to consult with hereditary chiefs."
“Both the British Columbia government and the government of Canada have committed to honour the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)”, said Ms. May, “but the arrests took place without any apparent effort by either government to consider the impact of UNDRIP on the injunction. Neither did the arrests and government response to the protests consider the climate impacts of fracking natural gas and its enormous carbon footprint.”
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