Militarized RCMP Enforcement, Violent Arrests Continue on Gidimt’en Land Defenders
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 20, 2021
WET’SUWET’EN TERRITORY, SMITHERS, BC: Sleydo’ Molly Wickham, Chief Woos’ daughter, and other Indigenous land defenders were among 11 people arrested at Coyote Camp yesterday. This was the second day in an ongoing siege. A convoy of dozens of RCMP officers, escorting Coastal GasLink workers and heavy equipment, violently raided Coyote Camp removing Wet’suwet’en people from their own lands. Chief Woos, other Wet’suwet’en supporters, allies, and media were denied access to the territory at an illegal exclusion zone set up by RCMP.
Prior to her arrest, Sleydo’ stated: “The Wet’suwet’en people, under the governance of their hereditary Chiefs, are standing in the way of the largest fracking project in Canadian history. Our medicines, our berries, our food, the animals, our water, our culture, our homes are all here since time immemorial. We will never abandon our children to live in a world with no clean water. We uphold our ancestral responsibilities. There will be no pipelines on Wet'suwet'en territory.”
Police were deployed in military garb, armed with assault weapons and dog teams, and enforced a media and communications blackout at the site. First, a cabin was breached with an axe and dog unit. Moments later, a separate cabin built on Coastal GasLink’s proposed drill pad site was breached with a chainsaw and snipers aimed at the door. RCMP did not have warrants required to enter either dwelling. After raiding Coyote Camp, police swept through Gidimt’en Checkpoint and made four more arrests, including Sleydo’s partner, Cody Merriman (Haida nation), legal observers and accredited journalists who were there to witness the events.
On Thursday, November 18, the RCMP carried out a similar militarized raid on the Gidimt'en Checkpoint at 44km, arresting 17 people including legal observers, an accredited journalist, two Haudenosaunee allies, and two Wet'suwet'en elders. The total number of confirmed arrests over the two day siege is 32 people.
According to Chief Woos, “I do not see any reconciliation in this. For our brothers and sisters of all Indigenous organizations, let this be a sign that reconciliation in their eyes is really the White Paper in disguise.”
Gidimt’en strongly condemns the repeated violations of Wet’suwet’en jurisdiction and Wet’suwet’en law in the middle of unprecedented climate-induced floods, storms, and a provincial state of emergency. Wet'suwet'en Hereditary chiefs released a statement today declaring “RCMP are not welcome on our territories.” All Wet'suwet'en Clans have also rejected the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline, which has no authority to operate on Wet’suwet’en yintah.
Solidarity actions have taken place across the nation. A rail blockade in New Hazelton by our Gitxsan neighbours and ancient allies was faced with a similarly violent and militarized RCMP operation. Actions also took place in Burnaby, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Montreal, and Victoria yesterday, and more cities are hosting marches and rallies over the weekend. The Wet’suwet’en continue to call on solidarity actions to take place.
Support has also poured in from Indigenous leadership and major human rights organizations, including The Haisla Nation, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and an open letter from Amnesty International.