Canada must stop the eviction of Wet’suwet’en and Secwepemc protesters blockading the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia, guarantee that no force will be used against them, and prohibit the use of lethal weapons on the site, B.C. Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender said Friday.
“Indigenous peoples who oppose development projects on their traditional territories should never be met with violence for peaceful opposition,” Govender said in the written statement. “Canada cannot simultaneously vie for a seat at the [United Nations] Security Council while ignoring their obligations to other parts of the UN.”
Govender “spoke out Friday after a United Nations committee working to end racism urged Canada to immediately stop the construction of three major resource projects in British Columbia—including the Coastal GasLink pipeline near Smithers—until it obtains approval from affected First Nations,” CBC reports.
The report from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) “raises the alarm about the escalating threat of violence against Indigenous peoples in B.C.,” Govender added on Twitter.
Last week, Wet’suwet’en land defenders issued an eviction notice to Coastal GasLink employees, but were expecting a stepped-up RCMP presence in their territory after a provincial supreme court judge extended an existing interim injunction against their blockade of the controversial, C$6.6-billion project. “Coastal GasLink is in violation of Wet’suwet’en law, and it is our responsibility now to uphold Wet’suwet’en law to maintain the integrity of our territories for future generations,” read a letter from hereditary chiefs, instructing all project staff and contractors to leave the territory immediately.
In June, the community noted that the region’s RCMP had mobilized an “army” of officers to thwart peaceful protests against Coastal GasLink, but hadn’t been able to muster a single constable the previous summer to help desperate family members search for 18-year old Jessica Patrick of Lake Babine Nation, whose body was later found on a roadside embankment outside Smithers.
“They’ve put more money into watching us, labelling us, and monitoring us than into searching for local murdered and missing women,” Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) said at the time. “They’re out there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they’re not helping our people.”