Yukoners grouped together to speak out against a recent injunction set against the Wet’suwet’en.
“Violence against the earth is violence against the Indigenous peoples that are the caretakers of that earth, and going ahead with trying to build extractive industry in sovereign territories when Indigenous people are saying no is rape culture,” said Siku Allooloo on Jan. 10, the day of the demonstration. “It’s inherently connected to missing and murdered Indigenous women.”
On Dec. 31, a British Columbia judge signed off on an injunction that would effectively bar the Wet’suwet’en from preventing Coastal Gaslink workers from entering the area.
Hereditary chiefs have since rejected it, issuing an eviction notice to employees. They have lifted the curtain a bit by permitting Coastal Gaslink to winterize assets. Workers are to leave afterwards.
The company, a subsidiary of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., wants to run a natural gas pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, B.C.
Roughly 20 people walked Whitehorse’s main drag on the day of the demonstration, ending at the RCMP headquarters.
The message was clear: don’t trespass on Indigenous land.
Allooloo, who’s Inuit and Taino, said the land in question is unceded, that the Canadian government and corporations are seeking to illegally occupy and destroy it — for profit.
Last year, on Jan. 7, the issue reached a fever pitch. The RCMP stormed the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en, arresting 14. This sparked more than 50 demonstrations in Canada and internationally.
While the First Nation’s elected band council signed off on the pipeline project, all Wet’suwet’en clans and their houses, headed by hereditary chiefs, are vehemently opposed.
The Wet’suwet’en are using a Supreme Court of Canada case to buttress their position. In 1997, that court ruled that they hadn’t relinquished rights and title to their 22,000 square-kilometre territory.
“Canada needs to abide by its own laws and not trespass without the hereditary leadership,” Allooloo said.
Ron Rousseau, who also attended the demonstration, echoed the same thing.
“For me, as an Indigenous person, I stand behind Indigenous rights. I believe as Indigenous people we have a responsibility to be stewards of the land, to protect land for future generations.
“It’s our land. We have the right to protect it, and the government has no right to be making those types of injunctions against our people.”
Contact Julien Gignac at firstname.lastname@example.org