Letter: Supporting Wet’suwet’en defence of territory

We strongly support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in protesting the plan to construct an LNG pipeline on their territory. We are appalled at the violent treatment of the First Nations people arrested recently by the RCMP for peaceably defending their territory.

When the new federal cabinet was sworn in on Nov. 4, 2015, the Prime Minister included this pledge in his mandate letter to every minister:

“No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”

Related: Wet’suwet’en strike tentative deal with RCMP allowing access to protect camp

The words “nation-to-nation” demonstrate the Prime Minister’s awareness that First Nations have inherent rights to their traditional territory and sovereignty over decisions concerning what happens there.

These rights are enshrined in the Canadian Constitution. In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada clarified in the Delgamuukw case that Aboriginal title constitutes an ancestral right protected by the Constitution.

Related: Letters: Public supports Wet’suwet’en defending their land and sovereignty

The use of injunctions and lawsuits against Indigenous peoples is contrary to these rights, and contrary to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which protects their right to “free, prior, and informed consent” before any development can take place on their territory.

Another issue of concern in this pipeline protest is climate change and the contribution that this gas pipeline will make to it. Fracking, piping, and processing LNG releases methane into the atmosphere.

Methane is 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

At a time when we need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, and to net zero by 2050 in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, this pipeline and processing facility are clearly not in the interest of Canada.

Anne Morris


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

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