Pressure continues to mount against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in Interior B.C., as posters appeared in Vancouver on Thursday highlighting the violation of Indigenous rights and the impacts of climate change.
The first poster, put up at the intersection of Main and Union, shows armed RCMP agents with the text: “Reconciliation won’t come at the barrel of a gun. Call off the RCMP.”
The posters, put up by allies of the Gidimt’en clan, are being used to call attention to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, designed to supply LNG Canada’s Kitimat facility with fracked methane from the Dawson Creek area of B.C. The project runs through the unceded territory of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and has been met with resistance from the nation’s hereditary leadership who hold authority over traditional territories.
At the intersection of Hastings and Nanaimo, the second poster looks like a postcard, welcoming you to “Beautiful British Columbia,” with photos of the floods and fires that devastated the province last year.
In 2020, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs issued an eviction order to the company that remains in effect, and in November last year, one of the nation’s five clans, the Gidimt’en, enforced the eviction order by blocking roads to the construction site. RCMP agents then descended on the area to enforce a court injunction issued to prevent interference with the pipeline’s construction.
Dozens of land defenders and two journalists were arrested during the raids that followed. Several of those arrested have alleged mistreatment at the hands of the RCMP, including being made to strip to their underwear, denied clothing before going to court and being transported in enclosures roughly the size of a dog kennel.
Last week, land defenders said they “executed a strategic retreat” from an occupied drill site in anticipation of another RCMP raid.
“Our warriors are not here to be arrested. Our warriors are here to protect the land and the water and will continue to do so at all costs,” Sleydo’ (Molly Wickham), a wing chief of the Cas Yikh people and spokesperson for the Gidimt’en Checkpoint, said in a statement.
The hereditary chiefs’ fight to defend Wet’suwet’en territory is not expected to slow any time soon. Beyond land defenders on the ground slowing construction, hereditary Chief Woos is taking the fight to Coastal GasLink shareholders.
“Reconciliation won’t come at the barrel of a gun. Call off the RCMP” reads one of the posters put up in Vancouver calling attention to the #CoastalGasLink crisis.
In December, Chief Woos spoke at National Australia Bank’s annual shareholder meeting to challenge the company’s financing of Coastal GasLink. It’s expected the pipeline’s other financiers will see continued pressure this year.
Hundreds of academics have also signed an open letter calling for the RCMP to stand down. The letter also calls for a ban on fossil fuel expansion.