Revelations from The Guardian's reporting Friday that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police wanted snipers to train their weapons on Indigenous water protectors resisting the construction of a natural gas pipeline in unceded Wet'suwet'en territory sparked outrage across the country and led to the worldwide deployment of a hashtag, #WouldYouShootMeToo, from activists in solidarity with the First Nations people.
Climate Strike Canada member Emma Lin was the first to combine the hashtag with a photo of herself holding up a sign with the words on it, sparking a movement of young activists doing the same worldwide.
Hi, I do want to clarify that I am the activist who started this campaign. I started it in solidarity with friends and family who are risking their lives, and I am deeply touched that other people have joined in. This is not a fight we can win alone. https://t.co/Aq2Ywkom36 pic.twitter.com/XZdjM8uYtK— Emma (@_emareil) December 22, 2019
"It's time to hold the RCMP and the Canadian government accountable for their racism," tweeted Ontario-based activist Rayne Fisher-Quann.
we have evidence that the canadian state was willing to shoot and kill Indigenous land defenders. someone that looks like me would never get the same treatment. it's time to hold the RCMP and the Canadian government accountable for their racism. #WouldYouShootMeToo pic.twitter.com/AGLFPhZ1oz— rayne ''listen to young people'' fisher-quann (@raynefq) December 21, 2019
Other youth climate advocates across the country and the globe joined in, holding up signs asking the RCMP if they too would be targets were they demonstrating for climate.
Solidarity now. Solidarity always.— Climate Strike Canada (@canada_strike) December 21, 2019
We, student strikers, are praised for our activism while Indigenous Land Defenders are threatened with lethal force. The RCMP is working as merceries to secure profits for @CoastalGasLink at the cost of our futures. #WouldYouShootMeToo? pic.twitter.com/HSSDigcwNG
How far is #Canada willing to go to protect the billionaires who run the oil and gas industry? #wouldyoushootmetoo is a campaign by @canada_strike to show solidarity with Wet'suwet'en land defenders who are fighting all of us. pic.twitter.com/z1Q3QSpA5K— p a y t o n (@paytonrose14) December 21, 2019
According to The Guardian, the RCMP's determination to break the protesters seemed unhindered by concerns for life and safety of demonstrators:
Notes from a strategy session for a militarized raid on ancestral lands of the Wet'suwet'en nation show that commanders of Canada's national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), argued that "lethal overwatch is req'd"—a term for deploying snipers.
The RCMP commanders also instructed officers to "use as much violence toward the gate as you want" ahead of the operation to remove a roadblock which had been erected by Wet'suwet'en people to control access to their territories and stop construction of the proposed 670km (416-mile) Coastal GasLink pipeline (CGL).
In a separate document, an RCMP officer states that arrests would be necessary for "sterilizing the site."
In a statement, Gidimt'en spokesperson Sleydo', also known by the name Molly Wickham, said that the conflict was "an issue of rights and title with our sovereign nation, and RCMP are acting as mercenaries for industry."
"With terminology like 'lethal overwatch', 'sterilize the site', and the threat of child welfare removing our children from their homes and territory, we see the extent to which the provincial and federal governments are willing to advance the destruction of our lands and families for profit," said Sleydo'. "The state has always removed our people from our lands to ensure control over the resources. This has never changed."
As Common Dreams reported Friday, the news that RCMP officers wanted snipers to aid the breaking of the Gidimt'en checkpoint blockade by Indigenous activists fighting the TransCanada-built pipeline was met with outrage from around the globe.
That outrage continued through the weekend and begot the #WouldYouShootMeToo hashtag.
The fight continues, said Sleydo'.
"Here we are, nearly 2020, and we are still being threatened with violence, death, and the removal of our children for simply existing on our lands and following our laws," Sleydo' said.