VANCOUVER – Early this morning four Burnaby Mountain Caretakers have locked themselves to the Supreme Court entrance in Vancouver. The action was taken to draw attention to the role of the courts in ongoing colonial occupation of Indigenous territory on Burnaby Mountain and across the country.
“This court represents colonial law, and it’s the only reason a Texas-based oil company is allowed to drill hundreds of metres into Burnaby Mountain against the wishes of the local First Nations and the municipality. It’s because of this court that RCMP is paid to defend corporate profit at the expense of the community it should be protecting.” Marija Brezev, Burnaby Caretaker
In granting Kinder Morgan’s request for an injunction and enforcement order on November 14th, the courts are once again ignoring aboriginal rights and title and breaching their constitutional duty to obtain consent on unceded Coast Salish territory.
These decisions by the BC Supreme Court continually dispossess indigenous people of the territories they have occupied and governed for thousands of years. Squamish elder Sut-lut was arrested last Thursday while protecting a traditional totem pole. This morning, Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah George will be arrested, alongside Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, after crossing police lines set by the BC Supreme Court.
“We’ve been here for thousands of years, and we’ll be her for many thousands more,” George said this morning. “We’ve been stewards of the land, and when we’re stewards of the land, we make choices for our future generations. That’s for my children and my grandchildren and yours too.”
Yesterday, the BC Supreme Court in Terrace granted Imperial Metals–the company responsible for the Mount Polley Mine disaster–a long-term interlocutory injunction and enforcement order, displacing the Klabona Keepers, guardians of the Sacred Headwaters, from their traditional territory. Yet another case in which corporate profits were deemed more important than indigenous land rights.
The caretakers of Burnaby Mountain are taking this action with the hope of shedding light on the institutions responsible for the continued colonization and exploitation of the land and the communities they sustain.
The caretakers stand in solidarity with the First Nations of BC by refusing to recognize the authority of the colonial court.