I originally published much of the following article on February 12, 2020. The events described below took place during the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raid on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory on February 7, 2020.
What follows explains why I became involved in supporting the Wet’suwet’en and their struggles to stop the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline from being built on their beautiful lands.
I’ve spent a lot of time and effort working against pipelines myself. Through the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, and working against the Dakota Access pipeline. (see: #LANDBACK and Pipelines )
One of the reasons for revisiting this now is because my Native friends have told me the way we nonnative people can support them is to become engaged in #LANDBACK, which is the reclamation of everything stolen from the original Peoples. Land, Language, Ceremony, Medicines and Kinship. Denzel Sutherland-Wilson says below, “land back”.
As difficult as it is to learn about the attacks on the Wet’suwet’en peoples, these provide a real education for us nonnative peoples, showing that the oppressions of Indigenous peoples, the theft of their lands, language, ceremony, medicines and kinship, continue to this day.
I became involved because of the call for solidarity:
“All of our supporters helped us achieve the major victory of evicting Coastal GasLink from our unceded lands. Now, in the face of increasing RCMP threats of violence and intimidation, we need you to KEEP GOING – continue showing up and shutting it down. The time is NOW to recognize indigenous sovereignty around the world! We are asking for folks to harness the power of this catalyzing moment to create sustained action in solidarity. For ideas and information, check out our updated Supporter Toolkit.” February 16, 2020. UNIST’OT’EN | All Eyes on Wet’suwet’en: International Call for Solidarity! (unistoten.camp)
When I saw the horrible video that is included at the end of this, I recognized the names of the two land defenders on the tower who were threatened by guns pointing at them by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Denzel Sutherland-Wilson (Gitxsan) and Anne Spice (Tlingit).
The strength of social media is the powerful ways we can share our stories. I enjoyed hearing and seeing Eve Saint, Anne Spice and Denzel Sutherland-Wilson talk about their culture and what the land means to them. Hear them laugh when talking about evicting a 6 billion dollar pipeline. Whisper “land back.”
It’s like we get to know them just a little. It hit me very hard when I heard Denzel tell the RCMP they didn’t need to point guns at him. I was thinking “how could they possibly do that to someone who obviously loves the land he is on so much? The land he is defending with his very life?” He is so brave.
Our culture and our tradition is the land. We are directly connected to the land. It’s our spirituality. We cannot be forced to be away from our land.
Nine days since we took the land back.
It feels like something you don’t normally do. (laughter) Its revolutionary, right?
I don’t think anyone’s ever really evicted like a 6 billion dollar pipeline before.
People get confused about what we want as Native people. Like “what do you want?”
Just like, “land back!”. Don’t need any reconciliation, don’t want money, like I don’t want programs or funding or whatever.
(whispers “land back”)
Funny though, when I said that to my Dad, Wet’suwet’en people, if you tell them about LANDBACK, they’re like “we never lost the land, anyway.” Which is true.
Wet’suwet’en have never given up title to their 22,000 square kilometer territory.
Canada is ready to kill us. Reconciliation is dead.
[ WARNING: This video contains graphic images of an armed threat on the lives of land defenders Denzel Sutherland-Wilson (Gitxsan) and Anne Spice (Tlingit). It may be traumatic for many to see. But we feel strongly that it should be available to witness. Denzel, Anne, and all the land defenders are now safe. These events took place during the RCMP raid on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory on February 7, 2020. The video was filmed by Gitxsan land defender Denzel Sutherland-Wilson from atop this tower. ]
When Canada is ready to kill us, reconciliation is dead. They deployed over 50 police officers, tactical teams, automatic weapons, dogs, snowmobiles, helicopters, and snipers to remove four unarmed Indigenous land defenders from unceded Wet’suwet’en territory. Canada has us in its sights. They bring lethal force because they are afraid of our power. We have the land, and all the ancestors, and dozens of indigenous nations standing behind us. Our land defenders were arrested, but they are free and safe. The land is still under siege. Rise up.
#shutdowncanada #AllEyesOnWetsuweten #WetsuwetenStrong #ReconciliationIsDead #LandBack
Callout for Solidarity: http://unistoten.camp/alleyesonwetsuweten
Gidimt’en Call to action: http://www.yintahaccess.com
Donate to Gidimt’en camp: https://www.gofundme.com/f/gidimt039en-strong