Wet’suwet’en Peace and Unity Summit: Comments regarding RCMP arrests

Aug 16, 2022 | Blog, Environment, Indigenous, Video | 0 comments

My colleague Sonia Furstenau and I, along with two staff members of the BC Green Caucus, had the honour of visiting the Wet’suwet’en territory at the invitation of the Hereditary Chiefs.

During our visit, about 30 of their invited guests rafted the Wedzin Kwa (Morice River) from Wedzin Bin (Morice Lake) to the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre. It was an exhilarating day.

The rafts were waiting for us at the Morice Lake Provincial Park and campground. On our trip out to the lake, we stopped at a camp to meet some of the land defenders who are living the conflict caused by the Coastal GasLink pipeline daily.

I witnessed our complete surveillance while we were out on those public roads. I stress that they are public roads. The ever-presence of RCMP and private industry security forces was intentional. There they sat side-by-side, trucks running and video cameras rolling, displaying the power and authority given them by our BC NDP government to protect the corporate interests of oil and gas companies.

As we crossed the bridge just a few hundred metres before the camp at 44km of the Morice Forest Service Road we passed RCMP Community Industry Response Group (CIRG) and industry security idling in their trucks.

Just a few minutes later the group began introductions at the camp when we heard the disruption back at the bridge. It turned out the RCMP began the process of arresting an individual in a vehicle that tried to cross the bridge just behind us.

I immediately felt those arrests were part of the show of force and the RCMP wanted us to experience their power. We were to feel grateful that it was not one of us who was being indiscriminately detained.

As the incident played out we walked up to watch what was happening, to bear witness to the constant struggle created by BC NDP in the Wet’suwet’en territory.

After watching for a few minutes we left the camp and continued our journey to the rafts. We rafted down the beautiful river and on that day I was shown two very different expressions of power.

The first was on that bridge. The brittle, fragile, power of force that must be asserted with weapons, threats and surveillance. The second came from the Wedzin Kwa. The power flowing from nature with such force it is inexhaustible.

My comments in this video are a response to the RCMP publishing a media release calling the rafting group protestors.

I totally reject this characterization!

The organizers of the Peace & Unity Summit invited Sonia and I to respond to this ridiculous framing.

As a Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia it’s our job to understand what is happening in our province.

It should be noted that the RCMP media release framed much of the narrative of those events. That was the story they wanted written and that was one of the stories that was published. Thankfully other stories were also written.

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