Statement of Support for Unist’ot’en Camp and Wet’suwet’en Leadership

Jan 26, 2019

“There is a direct connection between violence against the earth and violence against women.”
-Lee Maracle

The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC) stands in support with Unist’ot’en Camp and Wet’suwet’en Leadership in their peaceful defense of Wet’suwet’en lands in northern British Columbia against Coastal Gaslink Pipeline. The 1997 Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa case confirmed Wet’suwet’en’s title and rights to these lands as represented and held by their hereditary leaders; moreover, these lands are unceded.

DEWC membership is comprised of majority Indigenous women, low-income and working class women, most of whom are survivors of violence. DEWC recognizes that the same systemic violence that deeply affects Indigenous women takes many forms: in this case, militarized enforcement by the government removing unarmed women and Elders from their traditional lands, disrespecting hereditary leadership, and disrupting healing work and ceremony. Unist’ot’en conducts invaluable work for Indigenous people affected by intergenerational trauma, substance use, abuse, and other lasting effects of colonial violence (ex. residential schools and cultural genocide), work that is imperative to women in the Downtown Eastside community and to true reconciliation. We condemn the actions of the federal and provincial government, the courts and police in granting the injunction to TransCanada’s Coastal Gaslink project and criminalizing Indigenous people protecting their traditional lands and territory.

In 2016, the government of Canada signed onto the United Nations Declarations of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) as a full supporter, without qualification. UNDRIP mandates free, prior and informed consent for any project crossing Indigenous land, which has unequivocally been denied by all five Wet’suwet’en clans. Article 10 of UNDRIP clearly states that “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their land or territories,” while at Gidimt’en Access Point, militarized RCMP arrested land defenders with snipers and automatic weapons on hand. We strongly urge the implementation of UNDRIP at every level, the fulfillment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s 94 Calls to Action, and concrete acknowledgement — and sustained action — on the severity of violence faced by Indigenous women.

DEWC is a non-profit that receives government funding for our work of providing refuge, vital needs, and a spectrum of support to women in the Downtown Eastside. We call on all levels of government to recognize that violence against Indigenous land, violence against water protectors and land defenders, and violence against women are interrelated: in the Downtown Eastside and across Turtle Island (North America).

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