Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have fought for many years to keep three pipelines from running through their land in northern B.C. At stake, the protesters say, is their way of life, their culture and their system of governance which was recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in the landmark Delgamuukw decision in 1997.
I remember when the Wet'suwet'en first erected the Unist'ot'en Camp to uphold the clans' decision to prevent Enbridge, Chevron and TransCanada from building pipelines on their unceded lands in 2010. Tensions rose as they built a blockade and confronted workers who attempted to cross it, saying they had no permission to be on their territory.
Last December, a report by the Guardian newspaper sent shock waves across Canada. The Guardian said it had uncovered documents showing that the RCMP discussed shooting Indigenous clan members and supporters, all in the service of gas and oil. "Notes from a strategy session for a militarized raid on ancestral lands of the Wet’suwet’en nation show that commanders of Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), argued that “lethal overwatch is req’d” — a term for deploying an officer who is prepared to use lethal force.
Is this reconciliation? Hardly.
Is this making amends for residential schools, colonialization, the taking of lands and wealth? You bet it's not.
Shockingly, a tweet from the Unist'ot'en Camp stated today the RCMP has blocked roads for 27 kilometres leading up to the site, barring media from witnessing and documenting their actions.
"We do not want to see a repeat of last year’s behaviour, when the RCMP used an exclusion zone to block journalists’ access, making it impossible to provide details on a police operation that was very much in the public interest,” Canadian Association of Journalists president Karyn Pugliese said in a tweet.
Pugliese has it right.
Even without the Guardian's report of the RCMP's apparent willingness to use lethal force to remove people from the blockade, the RCMP should not be allowed to stop journalists from witnessing their actions.
RCMP, let Canada's journalists in.