ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE (January 10, 2018)— Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare issued the following statement regarding the peaceful protest against the TransCanada pipeline project occurring in Wet’suwet’en traditional territory in British Columbia and the law enforcement executed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
“I believe that the decision on how to proceed rests solely with all leadership and the citizens of Wet’suwet’en Nation,” stated Grand Council Chief Hare. “It is a decision that will have ramifications that could echo in eternity, so it is not one that can be made lightly and with external influences, interferences, or pressures. The forceful interference, assumed jurisdiction, and mishandling of the situation by the government of Canada and its agents harken to a time all too familiar to us and moves us further away from meaningful reconciliation. True reconciliation requires more than the actions outlined by the recommendations in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada – it requires efforts to reform the specific and comprehensive land claims processes in partnership with Indigenous peoples. This is a diversionary tactic that shifts the focus from addressing the underlying land title issues. I am confident that consensus will be achieved between all citizens of Wet’suwet’en Nation and will only unify and strengthen their nation.”
The $40 billion liquefied natural gas project planned will see a pipeline by TransCanada subsidiary Coastal GasLink span across northern British Columbia, including the traditional territory of Wet’suwet’en Nation. The 670-kilometre pipeline will be carrying natural gas from Dawson Creek in northeastern British Columbia to a new processing plant on the coast in Kitimat where the gas would be liquefied for overseas export.
Those from the Wet’suwet’en Nation that oppose the pipeline have been peacefully protesting against the pipeline and set up two camps with fortified checkpoints to prevent TransCanada from gaining access to the road to commence work. The protestors assert that the proposed pipeline project infringes on Aboriginal title, an assertion that can be supported by the 1997 Delgamuukw Supreme Court of Canada ruling as the Wet’suwet’en Nation has unfettered title to the land.
The RCMP was looking to enforce a court injunction, which was granted in December by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, ordering protestors to stop preventing workers from gaining access to a road and bridge. On January 7, RCMP entered the fortified checkpoint at one of the camps where 14 people were arrested in violation of the injunction.
“Canada and its agents have been in violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as ‘Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas’ – and that is exactly what the people of Wet’suwet’en Nation are striving for,” added Grand Council Chief Hare. “Yesterday, they de-escalated the enforcement issue — it gives me hope for a peaceful resolve as the safety and well-being of all citizens, regardless of where they stand on the issue, is of the utmost importance.”
The Anishinabek Nation is the political advocate for 40 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 60,000 people. The Anishinabek Nation is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.