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Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions crop up across Canada following arrests

By Ryan Hamann |
February 12, 2020
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Milwaukee, WI - People all across Canada, and even in some cities in the United States, are coming together to demonstrate solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation in their fight against the construction of the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who serve at the whim of the energy corporations behind the project. Actions have been reported in at least six of Canada’s ten provinces.

The wave of actions comes following the RCMP raid on encampments at strategic points central to the construction effort. These actions range in scope and scale, and the people organizing and participating in them represent a diverse array of forces, but the thread uniting them all is the call to respect indigenous rights and to end the RCMP assault on Wet’suwet’en land.

While all solidarity actions are important to the broader movement, some serve a more strategic function. Beyond the rallies, there have been many occupations of government buildings and the offices of Canadian government officials, the RCMP and private businesses connected to the pipeline project.

For example, youth activists in the country’s capital Ottawa in Ontario have taken over the Ministry of Justice. They say in a statement released to the press that they will not be leaving “until the RCMP stand down, the demands of the hereditary leadership of the Wet’suwet’en people is respected, and all land defenders are released and cleared of all charges.”

In other cases, roads across the provinces have been blocked, delaying traffic and resulting in numerous arrests. In one instance an angry driver plowed through a crowd of nearly 100 people in Regina, Saskatchewan. In British Columbia, where the struggle for Wet’suwet’en sovereignty is sharpest, two separate ports near the Vancouver area were blocked by activists. Nearly 40 people were arrested at one of these demonstrations.

Perhaps the most significant - and impactful - actions have involved blocking railway tracks across the country. In three provinces - British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario - railway disruptions have been reported. These demonstrations have resulted in numerous delays and cancellations. One of these railway actions, in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory of Ontario, passenger and freight rail traffic have been stopped outright for a week. This rail corridor is among the busiest in all of Canada.

What these cross-country demonstrations do is force the issue of Wet’suwet’en national oppression to remain in the national news. The fight of the Wet’suwet’en people for their sovereignty is a part of the broader struggle against the ruling class, not only in Canada, but also in the U.S. and wherever else indigenous people are fighting for survival.

The same forces that are behind the attacks against the Wet’suwet’en Nation are behind the attacks against workers, such as the lockout of Unifor Local 594 members at the co-op refinery in Saskatchewan. The greater the unity between the various movements of the working class and oppressed people, the more likely each will end in success. Hands off Wet’suwet’en!