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protesters in support of pipeline blockade

Protests were planned worldwide in solidarity with a First Nations group fighting against the construction of a pipeline through Wet'suwet'en territory. (Photo: Unist'ot'en Camp/Facebook)

'Shameful Day for Canada': First Nations Encampment Violently Raided, Land Protectors Arrested

"Is this a normal way to respond to Indigenous people who are peacefully protecting their drinking water from fracking pipelines?"

Jessica Corbett

More than 50 protests have been planned for across the globe on Tuesday in solidarity with a First Nations group fighting against the construction of TransCanada's Coastal GasLink through unceded Wet'suwet'en territory, with the number of protests rising overnight after Canadian police broke down a checkpoint gate erected by Indigenous land protectors and arrested more than a dozen people.

Reacting to footage of the "invasion" by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), author and activist Naomi Klein said it was "a shameful day for Canada, which has marketed itself as a progressive leader on climate and Indigenous rights."

Klein condemned the government's raid on unceded Wet'suwet'en territory and the arrest of First Nations land defenders, "all for a gas pipeline that is entirely incompatible with a safe climate."

People at the Gidimt'en camp have been anticipating the arrival of the RCMP, who are enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction that came last month in response to another camp on the territory formed by another Wet'suwet'en clan, the Unist'ot'en, in opposition to the fossil fuel company's proposed route for the fracked gas pipeline.

"This is Canada's response to unarmed Indigenous defenders asserting their own rights on their own territory."
—Mike Hudema, Greenpeace

"Camp members faced both uniformed RCMP and camouflage-wearing Emergency Response Team tactical unit officers through the barbed wire," according to the Toronto Star. "Police climbed a ladder over the top of the gate, circumventing a secondary blockade formed by the bodies of the camp members themselves. Then they began to arrest people."

The Mounties established a "temporary exclusion zone," and said in a statement that "there are both privacy and safety concerns in keeping the public and the media at the perimeter, which should be as small as possible and as brief as possible in the circumstances, based on security and safety needs." The statement noted that "during the arrests, the RCMP observed a number of fires being lit along the roadway by unknown persons, and large trees felled across the roadway."

Journalists and supporters of the land defenders posted updates from the scene to social media and called out Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the clear contrast between his claims that he wants to build a legacy of "reconciliation" with First Nations and how his government has responded to objections from the Wet'suwet'en people over the pipeline.

As Common Dreams reported Monday, although TransCanada claims it has signed agreements with First Nations leaders along the pipeline routes, Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs were not consulted, and say that those who signed off on the pipeline, which is set to cut through traditional lands, were not authorized to do so under Indigenous laws.


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