Pipeline protests erupt across Canada
February 10, 2020 10:29 PM   Subscribe

Armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police raided a camp on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory last week, in what some are calling “the next Standing Rock.” For years Wet’suwet’en First Nations people and supporters have been blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline by building camps and villages in the pipeline’s way. In response to this week’s RCMP raid, people blockaded the ports of Vancouver; 57 of those protesters were arrested today as satellite protests also erupted in Montreal, Ottawa, and Saskatchewan. Freda Huson, a spokesperson of the hereditary chiefs who has lived in the path of the pipeline since 2010, says “Our people’s belief is that we are part of the land. [...] And if we don’t take care of her [...] we as a generation of people will die.

TransCanada, the pipeline’s parent company, proposes to bring fracked gas from northeastern BC to the Pacific as part of a $40 billion project called LNG Canada.

As seen through a climate lens, this week's actions fit into what The Sightline Institute calls “The Thin Green Line” -- a larger phenomenon of resistance to fossil fuel projects meant to take gas and oil from the heartlands to the Pacific. Yet a Tlingit writer at Unist'ot'en Village writes that “characterizations of the Wet’suwet’en struggle as an ‘environmental’ conflict are false. They fail to account for the interconnection between our Indigenous communities and the non-human communities we care for. We are not protecting ‘the environment.’ We are helping our relatives survive, just like they help us to survive.”

LINKS:

Unist'ot'ten Camp website
An Injunction Against the Unist'ot'en Camp: An Embodiment of Healing Faces Eviction
Audio documentary about "The Thin Green Line"
Spending Time in a Controversial Camp That's Blocking Tar Sands Pipelines




posted by hungrytiger (53 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
The latest episode of Sandy & Nora (a Canadian politics podcast, hosted by two women), "Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en", is all about this.

Thanks for making this post.
posted by invokeuse at 10:39 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


One more article:

"On the fifth day of RCMP raids on Wet’suwet’en Nation territory, police breached the final camp standing in the way of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia.

A convoy of officers crossed the river with police dogs while tactical teams behind them pointed their guns at the camp, Unist’ot’en.

They walked past red dresses hung to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (Later, officers and pipeline workers pulled them down.) They sawed apart a wooden gate with the word “reconciliation” painted on it in bold, black letters. They extinguished a sacred fire.

While the world watched through livestreams on social media, the RCMP arrested seven people. Among them were several of the First Nation’s matriarchs, who had been in the middle of a ceremony, and the director of a $2-million healing centre at Unist’ot’en."
posted by hungrytiger at 10:46 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


B.C. Premier John Horgan made his first public comments about the raids Monday, saying he felt confident a "positive reconciliation initiative" is possible in the area but acknowledging that there would be "challenges."
...
"Governments do not direct the courts, nor do we direct the RCMP," Horgan said Monday. "I respect everyone's right to lawful protest, but when you're interfering with the operation of the economy... that becomes a challenge."
This is such bullshit, especially coming from someone whose government has been unwilling to negotiate in good faith.
posted by frimble at 11:48 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]




Thanks for the post. The repeated display of government support for extraction industries is infuriating. Doesn't matter that their economics are shit or that methane and carbon are driving our next great extinction event, got to clear the way with public money just on principle.

Why are there any government subsidies for fossil fuels, let alone for fossil fuel exploration?

Why are retirement funds invested in fossil fuel industries? What the fuck are people going to retire to if the world blows through 3-6 degrees heating?
posted by anthill at 12:37 AM on February 11 [21 favorites]


I am a lifelong Canadian and the way I describe this country to people is that Canada is a company town, the original company being The Hudsons Bay Company with such successors along the way as the RCMP and the CPR.

The company now is the massive energy corporations that seem to define policy, especially after Harper tried to turn the whole country into Greater Alberta.

This is horrible, but par for the course here, especially when the centuries of ignoring Native rights is added to an already toxic blend of power and privilege the energy companies enjoy.

Thank you for the post.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:39 AM on February 11 [20 favorites]


"Governments do not direct the courts, nor do we direct the RCMP," Horgan said Monday.

Who does direct the RCMP?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:15 AM on February 11 [9 favorites]


Well, their pension fund is heavily invested in TransCanada, so I would submit that the RCMP are mostly directed by capital in this matter.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 3:40 AM on February 11 [15 favorites]


proposes to bring fracked gas from northeastern BC to the Pacific

The worst idea at the worst time.
posted by mhoye at 5:14 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


I consider part of the problem is that "we" oh so considerately "gave" tribes the right to their constricted lands; thus whitewashing the reality that we took their land rights everywhere that wasn't useful at the time.

Now that the tribe's domain is desirable, it's there for taking by force and greed; same as before because it's for the good of all.....
posted by mightshould at 5:28 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


.
posted by bcd at 5:41 AM on February 11


"I respect everyone's right to lawful protest, but when you're interfering with the operation of the economy... that becomes a challenge."

A few months ago on BBC’s “The News Quiz,” Miles Jupp was talking about the Extinction Rebellion protests in London and said something to the effect of, “Protest is all very well, but once she had said no once, why couldn’t Rosa Parks have just moved to the back of the bus? She’d made her point, and some people had to get to the post office.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:44 AM on February 11 [9 favorites]


It's weird how wrong "RMCP" sounds in my head.
posted by Grither at 5:46 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Who does direct the RCMP?

Trudeau’s beard is the shadow minister of “Muhahaha I was evil all along!” but there is some overlap with the Ministry of Middle Class Prosperity.
posted by rodlymight at 5:50 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


One of the more interesting aspects of this conflict, which isn't address as much in the media in the rest of Canada as it should, is that it isn't just an issue climate change activists vs Big Oil or racism but also an internal struggle between the hereditary chiefs (who are against the pipeline) and the elected council (who are for the pipeline).
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:23 AM on February 11 [21 favorites]


[The RCMP] walked past red dresses hung to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (Later, officers and pipeline workers pulled them down.) 

Note for non-Canadians: the "missing" in missing and murdered women refers in part to women whose murders were not adequately investigated by the RCMP due to racism. The RCMP just broke up a commemmeration of RCMP negligence.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:49 AM on February 11 [8 favorites]




While the pipeline comes from Alberta, this isn't an oil pipeline, with reference to the framing above. This is a gas line.

This changes things significantly from an environmental impact assessment point of view---ship traffic and an construction debris are always issues, but this greatly relieves the effects of accidental spills, and their potential impacts on traditional fisheries for example.

On the other hand, this changes nothing about issues of rights and title to unceded land for non-treaty nations. Nor does it change anything about unwanted developments on the Nation's lands which might affect archaeological sites or traditional uses.
posted by bonehead at 8:19 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


The Decolonial Meme Queens Instagram account is providing thorough coverage of this for those who want to stay up to date.
posted by TheCoug at 8:50 AM on February 11


Just to drop in a few more links, The Narwhal, The Tyee, APTN, and Richochet have all had good ongoing coverage.

From Ricochet Media: The day the RCMP came: Gidimt’en checkpoint in photos

Note for non-Canadians: the "missing" in missing and murdered women refers in part to women whose murders were not adequately investigated by the RCMP due to racism. The RCMP just broke up a commemmeration of RCMP negligence.

Just to add to this:

B.C. failed to consider links between ‘man camps,’ violence against Indigenous women, Wet’suwet’en argue

MMIWG’s findings on ‘man camps’ are a good place for government to get started: The link between resource extraction projects and violence against Indigenous women is a ‘serious problem’ that demands attention, the report found
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:56 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Here in Halifax people have started blockading the port and the rail lines.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 9:34 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


On Thursday last week when the protests in Vancouver first started and they blocked access to the Port, the radio stations that give traffic reports weren't saying what the protest was for. Because I'm a curious individual, I went home and googled it (plus the coverage was blowing up on my fb feed). Most people probably didn't bother. The media was totally complicit in suppressing knowledge of the protests, including CBC.

I am so furious about this entire situation, and so ashamed to be Canadian.

I read somewhere but I have not found a source for this yet, that the hereditary chiefs offered an alternative route for this pipeline that would avoid the culturally important areas of the land, and that TransCanada refused. If that's true - I dunno. I'm so angry.
posted by twilightlost at 10:52 AM on February 11


Media Indigena just put out an episode with a pretty good panel discussion roundup. Well worth a listen.

The media was totally complicit in suppressing knowledge of the protests, including CBC.

Yeah. There's a reliance on the collective memory hole, too. Gustafsen Lake happened in 1995, and it involved the RCMP planting an IED on a road, shooting someone's dog, getting into a firefight largely with themselves, and attempting to conduct a "misinformation and smear campaign" (their words).
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:15 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


‘We’ve got a real divide in the community:’ Wet’suwet’en Nation in turmoil

I'm against pipelines, so I immediately understood the traditional chiefs' stance. But this article talks a bit about why the elected chiefs have been in favour of it.

The RCMP actions are unjustifiable. But the pipeline debate itself and who among the Wet’suwet’en get to decide is much more complicated. The end of the APTN article gets into some of the debates that are happening within the community over authority.
But Young said it’s up to the Wet’suewet’en to work out the conflict.

“When the Delgamuukw-Gisdaywa case took place, Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan were successful because we had our hereditary chiefs in sync with our elected chiefs and everybody had the same concerns,” said Young.

“The two [hereditary and elected] have to go hand in hand to be able to carry out true governance and it’s not one over rides the other. Everything now is out of step between the two and they need to come together and decide how they are going to move forward.

“The system broke down somewhere and it is going to be hard to mend, but I am hopeful that things do take place to get people back together.”
posted by jb at 11:32 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


How much of an impact does blocking rail lines have in BC?
posted by doctornemo at 12:19 PM on February 11


The CBC ran a comment from someone's social media saying the rail blocking cost "industry" a million dollars a day but I have no idea how they arrived at that figure.
posted by hungrytiger at 1:56 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Also, it seems I mixed up the name of the police in the original post (Royal Canadian Mounted Police is the correct form) -- is that something that can be fixed?
posted by hungrytiger at 1:57 PM on February 11


[Made that edit]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:04 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Makes me wonder. B.C. was a well-known pioneer in carbon taxation.

People of B.C., tell me this: how does this action square with that action? Was it only to buy goodwill so that yet another indigenous nation can (once again) be forced into submission?

Will Canada *ever* wake up to its past? Or will that only happen once Global Warming starts pushing millions of migrants across her borders?
posted by Twang at 2:33 PM on February 11


While the pipeline comes from Alberta, this isn't an oil pipeline, with reference to the framing above. This is a gas line.

This changes things significantly from an environmental impact assessment point of view---ship traffic and an construction debris are always issues, but this greatly relieves the effects of accidental spills, and their potential impacts on traditional fisheries for example.


Gas pipelines are still pretty awful to have around. The required compressor stations are unceasingly loud and disruptive to any non-pipeline activity nearby, their routine operation involves launching giant fireballs into the air, they end up leaking something along the lines of 2% of the gas that flows through them, and sometimes instead of leaking they just explode and kill people. Plus, so much natural gas capacity has come online in the last 20 years that the price has plummeted by more than 80%, so building more pipelines is only oversupplying an already saturated market. It would be an inexcusably bad idea to build them even if it wasn't being objected to by people whose right to control what is built on their own land ought to be inviolable.
posted by Copronymus at 3:40 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


How much of an impact does blocking rail lines have in BC?

Very little train traffic is between points in BC or even originating/terminating in BC with the exception of ports. Most rail traffic is transiting to/from the ports and places east. I mean yes there is lots of rail traffic from/to coal mines, sawmills, and chemical plants etc of all sorts that is important to those industries but as a percentage of the overall rail traffic it is small. intermodal and unit freight heading east; coal, potash, grain, oil heading west are the big money for railways in BC. Ontario and Quebec will probably feel the effects of long term disruptions more than BC.
posted by Mitheral at 9:01 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


How much of an impact does blocking rail lines have in BC?

If it's the rail line to the port of Prince Rupert with the coal and container shipping, then a lot.

Folks in my town who work for the railway are still getting paid... for now.

Heard on the CBC this morning, said by OPP trying to remove a rail blockade out east: "There have already been two rounds of layoffs because of this. It's not the fat cats who are getting laid off because of this blockade, it's working folks like you." That kind of negotiation is just... duplicitous. I hope they told him where to go.
posted by Verg at 10:21 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I apologize for asking someone else to do the work but can someone please explain the interaction between the hereditary chiefs and band councils and who has the authority here? I've followed the links in this thread and done some more searching but all I've ended up with is "it's complicated" and "the two should work together to be on the same page". As a settler and someone who has grown up and lived my whole life in democracies I can't help but think that of the two the elected councils are the more legitimate authority, even if the structure was originally imposed on the First Nations. If the Wet’suwet’en people didn't want the pipeline they could have elected councils that were against it. There have been elections while the consultation process was taking place and that they didn't indicates to me that most of them want the pipeline. Shouldn't we respect that?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:37 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Heard on the CBC this morning, said by OPP trying to remove a rail blockade out east: "There have already been two rounds of layoffs because of this. It's not the fat cats who are getting laid off because of this blockade, it's working folks like you." That kind of negotiation is just... duplicitous. I hope they told him where to go.

I heard the same, but I believe that was said not by the OPP but by Jason Brant, who is the Tyendinaga Mohawk Police Chief: video. That's a very different situation.
posted by jb at 12:47 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


This article discusses the governance issues within bands in BC. The only thing I'd add is that little of this is settled law or more than customary arrangements that vary from band to band, even within a nation. These questions are especially acute in northern BC where no treaties exist, and even the claim of Canada to many of these lands is disputed.

When pipeline companies want to build on Indigenous lands, with whom do they consult?
posted by bonehead at 12:50 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


There have been elections while the consultation process was taking place and that they didn't indicates to me that most of them want the pipeline. Shouldn't we respect that?

I had similar thoughts, but really settlers can't decide. The community has to work it out within itself. The Canadian state shouldn't be getting involved, not when sovereignty is at issue.

If the Canadian government steps away, that might leave it as a defacto "no pipeline" situation (against the wishes of some in the community), but I can't see anyway that the Canadian government can be involved without violating the sovereignty of the Wet’suwet’en.
posted by jb at 12:51 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


@bonehead It's interesting, because I have a treaty map of Canada, left behind from when an ex-girlfriend moved out (whose stepfather gave it to her, himself a corrupt government official in mining regulation, a fun story unto itself), and BC is conspicuously unmarked. The legal shrug that this implies is baffling. For the rest of the country, they instituted some serious bullshit treaties on muddied and unequal terms, as recently as 1929! To think that in other places, they didn't even bother to do formalized evil blows my mind. Even by settler colonialism's own ruleset and monstrous principles, indigenous people should have license to be evicting, gouging, and suing the pants off settler assholes (from which I don't consider myself separate) in BC.
posted by constantinescharity at 1:11 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


There's a reason we still have the Indian Act in force even though basically everyone agrees that it's a racist piece of history the country would be well quit of. There is really no consensus or even partial agreement on what to replace it with. How does Canada relate to the Nations?

I've been on the periphery of the government's efforts at reconciliation in BC for the past decade. Recently, there have been people of incredible goodwill working at this on all sides. In many cases, efforts are lead by First Nations people working for and representing the government itself. But the issues come with such a legacy of abuse and systematic racism (much still unacknowledged) that it takes incredible forbearance to see past them. The pressures of development, the overheated rhetoric around projects all make these incidents nearly impossible without prejudice.
posted by bonehead at 1:21 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


The Beaverton and https://walkingeaglenews.com/ are useful sources
posted by anthill at 1:47 PM on February 12






Wow, now Via is cancelling all trains nationwide because of the protests.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:37 PM on February 13


Here’s what government can — and can’t — do to end the Wet’suewet’en standoff. A fairly typical article for the past day, but of this:
The latest offer to meet comes via a hereditary Gitxsan chief, Norman Stephens, on behalf of both nations. Both levels of government have agreed to send ministerial representatives. More important, perhaps for the longer term, is that the Wet’suewet’en – among whom there are clear differences of opinion over whether the pipeline should proceed – are discussing holding an all-clans meeting to discuss the dispute, in what one chief has characterized as an extraordinary once-in-a-generation assembly on an issue such as this.
The Gitxsan, neighbors to the Wet'suewt'en, have a lot of credibility as a long established Nation in the area, and as a friend and ally to the Wet'suewt'en. They're also one of the parties covered by the Supreme Court decision, Delgamuukw vs. BC that's at the heart of this conflict. They're possibly the best mediator in this case and chance to get the two sides to talk to each other.
posted by bonehead at 7:58 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Nora Loreto and Jesse Brown had a good discussion about Canadian media coverage in this week's podcast (skip past the bits on Jordan Peterson, Christie Blatchford, and Ezra Levant). Some bits I took away:

* CAPP and other extraction industries, known for strong PR presence, are no doubt spinning the shit out of this story.
* "Natives in disarray", the classic colonial trope, remains the standard media frame.
* There's more incredulous coverage of "Wet’suwet’en bands disagree" then anything about "what is actually important about this pipeline"
posted by anthill at 12:20 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


People are just now being made aware of the fact that the Chiefs suggested two alternative routes through their territory. Coastal turned them down. Here's one account.
posted by CCBC at 5:52 PM on February 16


Canadaland: The Reporting Gap In The Wet’suwet’en Crisis
The number of senators in Canada is not a matter of opinion. The number of MLAs in the BC legislature is known, as are the number of town councillors in Pouce Coupe, BC, and Meaford, Ontario (87, four, five, respectively). The number of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, and the number who stand in opposition to the pipeline, should not be uncertain at the height of a national crisis, and in the third year of this dispute breaking into the headlines.
posted by bonehead at 2:19 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Pipeline approval record reveals conflict with Wet'suwet'en years in the making
Notes filed from a regional meeting held in Prince George in November 2013 give a sense of the challenges facing all First Nations when it comes to environmental assessments and the multitude of companies like TransCanada looking to satisfy requirements for projects.

"There is a lack of capacity, funding and expertise in First Nations to meet what is required," reads one comment.

"We are inundated by requests: letters, meetings, funding proposals. How do we engage to meet these timelines? We don't want to miss the opportunity to intervene and disagree."
I've heard that comment time and again in just about every community I've visited. There's a real sense of being overwhelmed by these enormously technical projects at the band councils. A typical proposal will be hundreds (if not thousands) of pages long, and the times given for comment, especially under the Harper government version of the approvals process, which is what the Gaslink project went through, could be very tight. No time to hire help, no money with the bands to pay for expert opinion, no time for the experts to dig into the documents provided by the company and examine them. Things are a bit better now, under the new legislative regime, in terms of providing supports and time, but still difficult, especially for a remote community of only several hundred people.
posted by bonehead at 6:28 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Coastal GasLink environmental assessment report rejected, construction could be delayed:

Coastal GasLink’s final Technical Data Report for a pipeline the company plans to build through unceded Wet’suwet’en territory has been rejected by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. As a result, work on the pipeline in the area of the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre may be delayed.

“Political leaders nationally and provincially have argued that the rule of law must be respected,” said Dr. Karla Tait, Unist’ot’en house member, in a press release, “yet the RCMP used their discretionary power to arrest and remove us from our territory despite the fact that the report had not been accepted.”


And yet the RCMP were already running around acting as Pinkertons for a project that wasn't even fully permitted.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:58 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


For some background, I don't think this has been posted recently: https://native-land.ca/

This is a consensus-based, indigenous lead map of the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples, mostly in Canada, but elsewhere as well. It comes with many caveats and a Teachers Guide to consider as well, but serves as a great reference to understand some of the complexities of the situation. In interpreting the map, I would particular recommend starting with the blog post "What is Territory" to understand what the map represents.
posted by bonehead at 12:36 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


The Wet'suwet'en, Aboriginal Title, and the Rule of Law: An Explainer:

Media outlets across the country have repeatedly reported that First Nations along the pipeline route, including the Wet’suwet’en, have signed agreements in support of the project.

Underlying this statement are several key issues that require clarification.

First, the Wet’suwet’en, like many Indigenous groups in Canada, are governed by both a traditional governance system and elected Chiefs and Councils.

The Chief and Council system exists under the Indian Act, a piece of federal legislation. It was introduced by the federal government in the 19th century as part of Canada’s attempts to systematically oppress and displace Indigenous law and governance.

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary governance system predates colonization and continues to exist today. The Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs, not the Indian Act Chiefs and Councils, were the plaintiffs in the landmark Delgamuukw-Gisday'way Aboriginal title case. They provided the court with exhaustive and detailed evidence of the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan governance system and the legal authority of Hereditary Chiefs.

Unless otherwise authorized by the Indigenous Nation members, the authority of elected Chiefs and Councils is limited to the powers set out under the Indian Act. The Indian Act does not provide authority for a Chief and Council to make decisions about lands beyond the boundaries of the First Nation’s reserves.

By contrast, the Hereditary Chiefs are responsible under Wet’suwet’en law and governance for making decisions relating to their ancestral lands. It is these lands that the Hereditary Chiefs are seeking to protect from the impacts of the pipeline project, not Indian Act reserve lands.

Second, Indigenous peoples hold rights to lands in Canada which extend far beyond the boundaries of Indian Act reserves, including Aboriginal title and rights to the lands they used and occupied prior to the arrival of Europeans and the assertion of Crown sovereignty. Aboriginal title and rights are protected under the Constitution Act, 1982 – the highest law in Canada’s legal system.

Third, the fact that First Nations have signed agreements with Coastal GasLink does not, in itself, mean that its members support the project without qualification.

Across the country, Indian Act band councils are forced to make difficult choices about how to provide for their members – a situation which exists in large part due to the process of colonization, chronic underfunding for reserve infrastructure and refusal on the part of the Crown to meaningfully recognize Indigenous rights and jurisdiction.

The fact that elected Wet’suwet’en Chiefs and Councils have entered into benefit agreements with Coastal GasLink should not be taken as unconditional support for the project.

Finally, similar to how Canada functions as a confederation with separate provinces with their own authority, First Nation decisions on major projects are not simply a matter of majority rules.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:03 PM on February 23 [5 favorites]


Thank you. That helps to explain what looked like impenetrable confusion.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:26 AM on February 24


Wet’suwet’en matriarchs get long-awaited seats at table with hereditary chiefs, ministers
After years spent fighting for their voices to be heard in the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute, Wet’suwet’en matriarchs and chiefs both for and against the project got to sit down with hereditary chiefs and government ministers at Thursday’s historic meeting.

The women gained their seats after complaining earlier that they were being locked out of the discussions, with the anger among both sides turning towards each other outside the meeting hall.
posted by bonehead at 5:14 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


CBC looks briefly at Facebook ad spends related to the pipeline protests. No surprise: Oil money funneled through Canada Proud.
posted by anthill at 8:17 AM on March 4 [1 favorite]


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