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Issue #1904      February 24, 2020

“Shut Down Canada”

On 6th February in British Colombia, Canada, Wet’suwet’en land defenders were arrested in the middle of the night and their Unist’ot’en camp raided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) while defending their own land and sovereignty. RCMP was looking to remove sovereign land defenders from their traditional land so that the construction of a proposed natural pipeline would go ahead.

These arrests led to protests and blockades nationwide to “Shut Down Canada” and to demand that RCMP stand down and leave sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory. These blockades and protests have been ongoing since the arrests took place. Blockades are occurring at the BC Legislature building, on railways and on Wet’suwet’en land threatened by the pipeline. The railway blockade successfully shut down most of Canada’s railway system on 14th February. Prime Minister Trudeau claims to support the right to protest, but says he draws the line on protests that don’t follow the “rule of law.” It is clear, however, that the Canadian government is an exception to its own rules of law.

Like First Nations peoples in Australia, Wet’suwet’en people have never sold their land or signed a treaty with the Canadian government. Wet’suwet’en people continue to practice their own traditions, their own systems of governance, their own language, and economic way of life, and so are undoubtedly a colonised nation. Canada, the illegal settler state, is simply occupying territory with the goal of stealing resources, without permission from the sovereign nation of the land.

The Wet’suwet’en verses Coastal GasLink pipeline is an example of the links between First Nations’ justice and climate justice. First Nations’ sovereignty and the political action undertaken by themselves and their allies, are a massive barrier for imperial governments to overcome in order to exploit the land.

It also shows that colonisation is ongoing through the removal of native people from their lands, and the destruction and theft of the natural resources that First Nations peoples rely on for their economic life. This applies to Wet’suwet’en territory as “this $6.6 billion project,” says Communist Party of Canada (CPC) in their statement, “threatens the lands and rivers which are crucial to the traditional way of life of the Wet’suwet’en people, especially the viability of their salmon fisheries.” The Youth Communist League, the CPC’s youth organisation, has also been present in the blockades to “Shut Down Canada.”

RCMP’s role in the ongoing colonisation of Canada is shown in the removal of Wet’suwet’en land defenders – simply just another chapter in this colonial relationship. For example, in 1873 Canada’s mounted police were instrumental in the invasion and theft of Indigenous land that has now become Western Canada. The false mythology of “the Mounties” has been disrupted and their true and historical nature has been revealed in the present.

Unions in Canada such as British Columbia Federation of Teachers, the BC Government and Service Employees Union, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees have announced solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders. However, the Canadian government has been attempting to cause friction between unions and First nations’ people by insisting that the natural gas pipeline is in the interest of unions to support since it would create jobs. This is a lie orchestrated by the government to split the most potentially revolutionary groups from a unified front. A lie that is all too familiar for us in so-called Australia.

The current situation in Canada echoes the experience of First Nations peoples here. From the Western Highway extension in Djab Wurrung country from Buangor to Ararat, Victoria to the construction of Adani mine in Wangan Jagalingou country in Queensland, the links between colonial removal of traditional owners, exploitation of natural resources, and climate justice are just as evident here as it is for the Wet’suwet’en-Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute.

Next article – Tory Immigration Proposals Seek to Divide Workers

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