Indigenous Youth Won't Leave B.C. Parliament Until RCMP Raids in Wet’suwet’en Stop

Youth across the country are staging sit-ins and rallies to support Wet’suwet’en land defenders.
Anya Zoledziowski
Toronto, CA
February 7, 2020, 7:03pm
Protestors outside of B.C.parliament.
Supports of Wet’suwet’en Nation stand outside of the B.C. parliament in Victoria. Photo by Lauren Sortome. 

Indigenous youth will not leave the B.C. parliament in Victoria until the government ends the RCMP raids against Wet’suwet’en Nation.

Ta’kaiya Blaney, 19, is from Tla’amin Nation and one of dozens more Indigenous youth from Wet’suwet’en, Sto:lo, Secwepemcúĺecw, and more, who mobilized outside the B.C. parliament in Victoria on Thursday at noon and stayed overnight.

Blaney said the group will remain on site to support Wet’suwet’en until federal and provincial governments honour Indigenous laws.

“We will be here until demands are met. This is an unconditional occupation,” Blaney said.

Land defenders have been working together to protect unceded Wet’suwet’en territory from pipeline construction by occupying proposed development sites. But on Wednesday, the RCMP confirmed it would be enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court order, allowing officers to forcibly remove land defenders and make way for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Supporter of Wet'suwet'en Nation in front of B.C. parliament

Indigenous youth across Canada are rallying in support of Wet'suwet'en Nation as RCMP raids ensue. Photo by Lauren Sortome.

Dozens of RCMP officers stormed into Wet’suwet’en land defender camps at 5 a.m. on Thursday morning with tactical officers, dog teams, and drones equipped with infrared sensors. At least six people were arrested and one woman was reportedly dragged out of a car window, naked. Officers were initially detaining reporters, including a VICE journalist, but have since said they will not remove embedded journalists. RCMP raids are ongoing.

Across Canada, Indigenous youth are staging sit-ins at government buildings and rallying in support of Wet’suwet’en.

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Blaney said the ongoing rallies are about more than the pipeline—they’re about Indigenous sovereignty and survival.

Supporters of Wet'suwet'en outside of B.C.'s parliament

"What is Canada? It's the ongoing, violent occupation on unceded Indigenous lands," Blaney said. Photo by Lauren Sortome.

“It’s up to us to keep ourselves safe and to support our loved ones on the Wet’suwet’en front lines,” Blaney said.

In a letter to their local MP and MLA, Victoria-based Indigenous youth highlighted the “irreparable violence” committed by Coastal GasLink and RCMP on Wet’suwet’en territories, citing the destruction of archeological sites, hunting areas, traplines, and use of brutal force against land defenders.

“The Canadian government’s narratives of reconciliation and climate leadership become moot while simultaneously using lethal force to push a pipeline through Indigenous lands against the collective will of the hereditary leadership,” the letter says. “As Indigenous youth, we urge you to uphold Indigenous rights and Wet’suwet’en law by advocating for the removal of CGL and RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territories.”

B.C. parliament in Victoria

At the time of publication, Indigenous youth had already been outside of the B.C. parliament for more than 24 hours. Photo by Lauren Sortome.

Indigenous youth in Winnipeg have been occupying the office of Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal since Tuesday.

Rallies in support of Wet'suwet'en continue through the weekend from coast to coast.

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