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LPIRG in Solidarity // #WetsuwetenStrong

 

The Lethbridge Public Interest Research Group (LPIRG) stands firmly in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders, and with friends and allies across Turtle Island taking a stand against state and police violence. 

We stand as witnesses to this historic moment when the federal and provincial governments, RCMP, and Coastal GasLink/TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) are openly violating Wet’suwet’en, Canadian, and international law.

LPIRG recognizes that the TransCanada Coastal GasLink pipeline does not have the collective free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. All the Wet'suwet'en Clans have rejected the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was passed unanimously in B.C. legislature only months ago. UNDRIP states that Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands and that no relocation shall take place without the free, prior, and informed consent of the Indigenous peoples concerned.  The declaration also states that Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop, and control the lands, territories, and resources that they possess by traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use.

The call to action from the Unist’ot’en comes from a call to action to find justice. A need to end systemic discrimination and oppression. The need for true justice - justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, justice for the unceded territory taken for state purposes, justice for former students of residential schools, justice for the children taken in the Sixties Scoop, justice to end the disproportionate rates of Indigenous children taken from their families and put in care. Justice for ongoing colonization and discrimination. Justice for the Indian Act’s oppressive system of funding to First Nation communities. Communities looking to supply clean drinking water. Communities in need of health care centres. Communities in need of safe housing

Just as previous actions to secure civil rights for communities under state oppression were not only about a seat on a bus, or in a movie theatre, or marking an X next to a candidate - the actions by land defenders across Canada are about much more than a single resource extraction project. 

Reconciliation is an ongoing process - that must centre respect and autonomy. Reconciliation is NOT RCMP raids, or threats of arrest. If the state of Canada is committed to reconciliation, it must first and foremost end the state violence perpetrated against Indigenous peoples by the RCMP and police forces. Despite making up about 5% of the population, more than 30% of incarcerated people in Canadian prisons are Indigenous. This in itself demonstrates the ongoing violence and oppression of Indigenous peoples by state forces.

We call on the federal government of Canada and the provincial government of British Columbia to respect the rights, jurisdiction and laws of the Unist'ot'en/Giltseyu-Dark House on their unceded territories, as upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. We call on banks, pension plans, and other investors to divest from extractive resource projects that do not honour free, prior and informed consent with all members of the communities extractive resource projects impact. 

We call on allies and communities across Turtle Island to call out racism and acts of violence. To hold your local governments accountable to their own responses. Further, we call on every Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta to vote against Bill 1: the “Critical Infrastructure Defence Act” - an act that demeans the core freedoms of speech and assembly.

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