On October 27, Wet’suwet’en water protector Eve Saint spoke at a protest outside the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Toronto as the London, Ontario-based Ivey Business School presented RBC CEO Dave McKay with their Ivey Business Leader award. Ivey notes: “More than 400 guests, including some of Canada’s most distinguished business leaders, attended the formal dinner at The Ritz-Carlton. The award honours individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of business in Canada, and demonstrated leadership in both business and their communities.” The day before the award ceremony RBC released its 2030 emission reduction targets. McKay claimed: “RBC is committed to helping build a cleaner future.” But Saint said of McKay: “You are not a climate leader, you are a leader in genocide.
Despite abruptly canceling the in-person portion of their annual general meeting (AGM) today, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) faced growing calls to phase out coal, oil, gas, and tar sands funding, and instead invest in a safe, and renewable future. Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and climate finance experts asked the RBC Board and management about their role in violating Indigenous rights by bankrolling projects that perpetuate genocide against Indigenous Peoples, such as the Coastal GasLink pipeline, as well as the role of RBC’s fossil fuel financing contributing to the climate crisis. Melina Laboucan-Massimo, the co-founder of Indigenous Climate Action, spoke to shareholders about how RBC’s financing of the tar sands has detrimental impacts to her homelands, the health of Indigenous people on their territory and to the climate.
Early in 2020 and late in 2021, the Wet’suwet’en First Nation faced down police forces as they tried to protect their homelands in northern British Columbia. The province and the federal government had no difficulty in sending in the RCMP to mete out justice. No mercy has been given to the First Nations when they protest. Oka, Ipperwash, Gustafsen Lake, logging standoffs and oil and gas standoffs, including the Tiny House Warriors standing against the Trans Mountain pipeline, were all met with unwavering police forces. The last confrontation in Wet’suwet’en had First Nations from other provinces joining in solidarity. Enter Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his anti-protest legislation. Kenney quickly enacted Bill 1 to protect “critical infrastructure” and to fine those driven to protest.
Two weeks after Wet’suwet’en water protectors evicted Coastal GasLink workers and occupied a key pipeline drill site, water protectors executed a strategic retreat to avoid arrest and violence at the hands of dozens of militarized RCMP. Before a large scale mobilization by police, water protectors vanished into the woods, evading police violence and criminalization. We expect an imminent assault on our people at the direction of Coastal GasLink as we continue to occupy and utilize our yintah.
On Saturday, December 19, activists leading the Wet’suwet’en resistance against the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline project declared that they evicted workers of the project from the drill site. This development comes exactly a month after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) violently dismantled a blockade led by the Gidimt’en clan near Camp Coyote and arrested dozens of protesters and even bystanders. The declaration of reclaiming Camp Coyote was made over a statement released by the Gidimt’en Checkpoint, on Sunday, December 20. “This courageous action took place one month after a wave of militarized raids on Gidimt’en land,” the statement read.
One month ago today, the RCMP violently raided unceded Gidimt’en territory (November 18-19, 2021), removing Indigenous people from their land at gunpoint on behalf of TC Energy’s proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline. The Wet’suwet’en enforced our standing eviction of CGL by closing roads into the territory November 14-17. Following the raids, arrestees received cruel and violent treatment in prison. The conditions set forth by the court are human rights violations to Indigenous peoples. We’re still here. We’re still throwing down. We are more determined than ever to protect our traditional territories for future generations. In September 2021, Gidimt’en Checkpoint reoccupied Lhudis Bin territory, building a clan cabin on the drill pad site where Coastal GasLink pipeline wants to drill underneath our sacred headwaters, Wedzin Kwa.
On Saturday, more than sixty people acting in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders blocked the CN main line in Saint-Lambert south of Montreal for over six hours. It was the longest rail blockade in Quebec since the winter of 2020, interrupting Via Rail service and immobilizing six freight trains. These notes reflect the experience of a couple participants in Saturday’s blockade. Nostalgia mixed with anticipation as we arrived at the tracks where they cross rue Saint-Georges, with banners ready to hang across the rail crossing and no police in sight. It was a bright morning, temperatures just below freezing and the ground snowless, a contrast with that first night in February 2020, when temperatures sunk to 25 below and snow could be piled into mounds atop the rails.