If you’d asked Susan Bibbing two years ago how she planned to kick off the new decade, carving a pit latrine from the frozen ground of northern B.C. likely wouldn’t have factored in the conversation.I Left Home to Dig Pit Toilets on the Front Lines of the Wet’suwet’en Standoff. “I felt I couldn’t just stand by and watch this in the news anymore,” Susan Bibbing told VICE. By Jesse Winter, VICE,
But when the self-described West Vancouver housewife saw pictures and video from last year’s police raid on a Wet’suwet’en land defender blockade, it was the last straw.
“I felt I couldn’t just stand by and watch this in the news anymore,” Bibbing told VICE. When the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation issued a call for supporters in January, Bibbing answered it along with dozens of others.
“I think a lot of settler-descendant people like myself are rather late to the game. Indigenous people have been defending their territory for hundreds of years,” she said. “People who are non-Indigenous are really starting to wake up in big numbers and add their voices.”
Feb 3 2020
VIDEO below: Explaining the Wet’suwet’en standoff. Exploring the origins of an ongoing crisis by André Goulet, Savanna Craig, ricochet, FEBRUARY 3, 2020
On Thursday, the B.C. government announced a seven-day “de-escalation” to allow for mediation talks with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline across their territory. During this week-long mediation period, however, tensions remain high and the RCMP presence has increased significantly.
Thus far, no attempts have been made to clear the trees blocking the road or to transport Coastal GasLink employees into the area. But the RCMP are amassing in nearby settlements such as Houston and Telkwa, B.C., and an RCMP checkpoint set up to control access into Wet’suwet’en territory remains a serious point of contention.
Legal observers are now joining the Wet’suwet’en to record police actions and violations amid the conflict.
- RCMP says helicopters can go into Wet’suwet’en territory but cannot bring passengers
- RCMP denies restricting air traffic into Wet’suwet’en territory, but local companies say otherwise
- In the path of the RCMP: An interview with Sabina Dennis
- Crossing the RCMP checkpoint on Wet’suwet’en territory
- Why having a journalist on the ground at Unist’ot’en matters
Part of what the Wet’suwet’en are doing differently this year to try and ensure human rights are upheld is welcoming legal observers at every camp and checkpoint along the road to the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, located approximately 39 kilometres past the RCMP checkpoint.
Legal observers include any independent volunteers willing to record police activity where peaceful assembly and law enforcement action are occurring. They are meant to record encounters with police like Carmen Nikal’s.
Their main focus at the moment is the RCMP checkpoint. Since Coastal GasLink was granted the injunction, the RCMP have had the power to arrest any people blocking construction on Wet’suwet’en Yintah.
Wet’suwet’en law, civil liberties, and human rights
A wave of legal experts have risen to begin what appears to be a long battle over jurisdiction on unceded territory.
“The confluence of legal systems here makes the problem a complicated one and one that is not reducible to a simple statement about the rule of law,” stated Margot Young, a University of British Columbia law professor, during a press conference organized by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs a few days ago in Vancouver.
Young was referring to a recent statement made by B.C. premier John Horgan, wherein he claimed the rule of law is being upheld by the RCMP, even though the Wet’suwet’en have unequivocally said no to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project at every stage of discussion.
“The failure to receive free, prior, and informed consent from the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs about their traditional land and the impact on it by the pipeline development meant that the pipeline project should be stalled,” Young said. “The RCMP should stand down and government must kick up meaningful conversations with the Wet’suwet’en over the use of this land.”
Police deploy in nearby towns during ‘de-escalation’ of Coastal GasLink pipeline conflict. Legal observers are joining the Wet’suwet’en to record police actions and violations. News by Jerome Turner, ricochet, FEBRUARY 4, 2020
I disagree with actions like the one below. I’m reporting it here for a more complete picture of all that is happening related to the Wet’suwet’en struggles.