November 22, 2021
From It's Going Down
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Cover image: @Gidimten / @M_Tol

In this week’s column, we present an update on the recent wave of repression and arrests on Wet’suwet’en territory by the RCMP, as well as a roundup of solidarity actions across so-called Canada and beyond. Be sure to listen to a recent interview with Sleydo’ of the Gidimt’en on a recent episode of This Is America, here. We also present an update on the recent flooding and climate change driven chaos that has hit so-called British Columbia.

Let’s dive in!

Gidimt’en Checkpoint and Coyote Camp Raided by RCMP

The first signs of an impending RCMP raid on land defenders in Wet’suwet’en territory came on November 17th, when 30-50 RCMP were spotted arriving in Smithers, BC. There was little time between those first signs and the commencement of a brutal raid.

In this time before the raid, an exclusion zone was set up further down the forest road. An RCMP checkpoint was used to deny access to Wet’suwet’en people from their territory. Jen Wickham, who was heading up the road to deliver supplies including heart medication to a Wet’suwet’en elder at 44km, was denied access. The elder, Aunty Janet, was unable to receive her heart medication and was transported to the ER with chest pains the next day following her arrest.

On November 18th, RCMP and CGL workers equipped with bulldozers, snowmobiles, quads, heavy machinery, and all manner of weapons headed towards the Gidimt’en Checkpoint at the 44km mark on Morice Forest Service Road. RCMP propoganda described the raid as a “rescue and enforcement operation.” Claims that Gidimt’en had blocked hundreds of CGL employees in without access to supplies circulated in mainstream media, despite the fact that CGL was given 10 hours to evacuate their workers. It later became clear that CGL did not inform their hundreds of workers that there was an evacuation order, thereby not giving them the option to leave.

The RCMP slowly made it past the various blockades that had been set up along their path, including the spot where the road had been dug up with a liberated CGL excavator.

Once at Gidimt’en Checkpoint at 44km, RCMP arrested 15 land defenders. All were charged only with breaching the injunction.

With the exception of elders Aunty Janet and Uncle Lawrence, and one journalist released without charge, the other arrestees were held overnight until a bail hearing at 1:30pm the following day. At the bail hearing, some land defenders agreed to their release conditions, which included keeping the peace and not returning to the exclusion zone, as well as a promise to appear at a later date, and were released that day. Five arrestees refused to sign the release conditions and are being held until another hearing on Monday, November 22 at 11am in Prince George.

While the arrestees from day one of the raid were being held and processed, the second day of the raid was ongoing. More arrests were made at Gidimt’en checkpoint at 44km, and multiple arrests were made further up the road at Coyote Camp and directly on the nearby site of CGL’s drill pad, on which a cabin had been built. The cabin was broken into with a chainsaw. Among the arrests were Sleydo’ (Molly Wickham), the spokesperson, as well as her partner, and the daughter of Dini’ze Woos. In total, an estimated further 15 people were arrested on the second day. These individuals are being held until Monday when they will have a bail hearing.

Solidarity Actions Spread Across So-Called Canada

While the raid on the Wet’suwet’en Yintah escalated, solidarity actions began to pick up in earnest across the country.

In Gitxsan territory, neighbours and ancient allies of the Wet’suwet’en, a rail blockade was quickly initiated. Because of the major flooding in BC, multiple rail lines are already inactive, making the Gitxsan blockade even more impactful. The RCMP came in hard and fast to dismantle it on November 19th.

However, community members have remained nearby the tracks and continue to attempt to disrupt rail traffic, leading to a continued RCMP presence beside the tracks. Cops have been escorting trains through the area since.

In Six Nations, the community reacted to the raid and to the arrest of members of their own community who had been present in Gidimt’en territory. A blockade of the Highway Six Bypass began on November 18th.

Shortly thereafter, a huge fire was lit on a second blockade, this time of the CN tracks that run through the community. Both blockades remain active at the time of writing.

In Manitoba, the CN and CP tracks that run through Diamond were blocked for several hours.

Following hours of pressure from police, the blockade was removed on the night of November 19th.

On the morning of November 19th, some anarchists in Montreal reacted to the first day of the raid by blocking rail traffic for at least 2 hours in the Pointe-St-Charles neighbourhood of the city with burning tires on the tracks.

A few days before the raid, a large artery through Montreal was also briefly blocked by picnic tables and burning tires. Then on November 21st, people began a blockade of a railroad.

A solidarity demonstration is planned in Montreal for November 27th.

In Nitaskinan (“Lanaudière”), settlers held multiple rail blockades. Their communique called for the immediate multiplication of actions in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and against the colonial government.

In so-called Vancouver, a brief rail blockade led by Indigenous youth was dispersed by 40-50 police on the evening of November 19th.

On Bowen Island, a solidarity demonstration was organized at the ferry terminal.

In Toronto, a large November 19th protest blocked Front Street downtown, and also occupied the building which houses RBC and TC Energy.

A second action in Toronto on November 20th blocked traffic downtown as well.

On November 21st, also in Toronto, a rail blockade stopped train traffic for three hours on CP and CN rails.

In Hamilton on November 21st, streets were blocked by a solidarity demo.

In Guelph and Peterborough, solidarity demos were held on November 20, and demo was held November 21 in Halifax.

In Kingston, a solidarity action blocked the Lasalle Causeway on November 21.

In Winnipeg, downtown streets were blocked by a solidarity demonstration.

In Burnaby, BC, RCMP offices were visited by a solidarity demo that then proceeded to block a nearby highway.

In Victoria, streets were blocked near the RCMP headquarters by a large demonstration. Highway 17 was also blocked.

Solidarity actions even spread outside so-called Canada. A banner drop in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en was carried out over a highway in so-called Oakland, CA.

In Claremont, California, students at Claremont McKenna College shut down the campus for six hours. Two of the college’s trustees are owners of KKR, one of the major investors in the CGL pipeline.

Claremont, California. SOURCE: Instagram

For updates about past and ongoing rail and highway blockades, you can consult this editable map.

See full screen

Solidarity actions are ongoing, so plan something in your area as soon as possible to #ShutDownCanada. You can find actions in your area by checking this thread, and elsewhere, especially with the hashtags #ShutDownCanada and #AllOutForWedzinKwa.

Flooding in Southern BC

Just a months after a deadly and record-breaking heatwave swept across BC, the south of the province is experiencing further effects of climate crisis. This past week, record-breaking rainfalls caused major flooding and mudslides in many parts of southern BC. According to preliminary Environment Canada data, 20 communities experienced record rainfalls on November 14. The flooding forced hundreds to evacuate their homes, and left others stranded as mudslides shut down transportation routes. In multiple communities, water supply has been placed under a boil water advisory, or deemed completely unsafe to consume.

This extreme weather event can be tied closely to the heat waves and wildfires of the summer. Wildfires cause a change in the quality of soil and vegetation, decreasing their water absorbancy and increasing erosion. This, in turn, leads to lower capacity for forests and greenspaces to absorb water and mitigate the effects of heavy rainfall. Both events demonstrate the compounding effect of a rapidly worsening climate crisis.

Due to the risk of a spill, the Trans Mountain pipeline was shut down in the Hope area as a result of the flooding. The flooding also caused construction of the pipeline to be shut down in the Lower Mainland, Hope, and Merritt regions.

Meanwhile, the Province of BC has declared a State of Emergency for at least 14 days. The Province has justified the decision as a way to “get supply chains moving” and increase government capacity to restore rail and roadways. However, the declaration of a state of emergency has coincided with multi-day raids on land defenders, revealing that the state continues to see economic disruption and Indigenous sovereignty as far more of an emergency than the climate crisis and will continue to allocate resources accordingly.

As always, we welcome news tips at [email protected]! Follow Canadian Tire Fire on Twitter, here.

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Source: Itsgoingdown.org