TURTLE ISLAND SOLIDARITY NETWORK: Thanksgiving at Gidimt’en

14 October 2021

 

“The RCMP are coming,” an alert came from watchers on the lumber road.

“Get ready!”

We CPT members donned our “Legal Observer” vests and, along with all the Land Defenders and settler allies, positioned ourselves strategically.

Four Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers walked around the gate blockade and into the occupied pipeline construction site, speaking to no one. They began to check out the many further blockades on the road that prevented the tunnelling machinery access to the site. The Indigenous Land and Water Defenders watched and recorded their every move. The Wedzin Kwa pure headwaters must not be put at risk of pollution by this intrusion on Gidimt’en Territory.

Reaching the campsite, the police, with disdain, investigated the kitchen and fireplace, poked their noses into tents, checked out the captive construction equipment and opened the tap on the large company water container draining it to the last drop. As they walked out of the site, two officers took apart a section of the gate blockade with wire cutters.

This event happened on Friday of “Thanksgiving” weekend, or as it is known here, Indigenous Solidarity Day. On Saturday, the RCMP returned, but not by the road. They bushwhacked to avoid the gate blockade. The Land Defenders deployed a small drone to search for them, which the RCMP objected to when they came out of the forest. The RCMP did not appear on Sunday, but Haudenosaunee Peoples arrived, including Land Defenders from 1492 Land Back Lane.

One has to ask, what is unclear about the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), to which Canada is a signatory? States require the “free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples” before initiating projects on their territories. The pipeline corporation, the construction company, and the provincial and federal governments are clearly in violation of this declaration to which Canada has agreed.

Then came Holiday Monday! Six RCMP officers walked towards the gate, and this time they were met by a large group of Indigenous Defenders walking towards them. “This is Gidimt’en territory! Get off our land!” The six police officers retreated to their vehicles and departed.

But they will return soon and with heavy reinforcements. In the meantime, small houses are being constructed to further demark the land as Indigenous and assert sovereignty.