By Binny Paul,
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Gidimt’en Checkpoint, the group opposing the construction of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline (CGL) on Wet’suwet’en territory in northwest B.C., have submitted a report of their ongoing issues to an expert panel of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The submission titled “Militarization of Wet’sewet’en Lands and Canada’s Ongoing Violations,” is part of an input for a study undertaken by the UNHRC’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which consists of a panel of seven independent members appointed by the Human Rights Council.
Each year these experts hold a five-day session where global case studies are presented to better understand treaties, agreements, and the relationship between Indigenous peoples and states, including peace accords and reconciliation initiatives, and their constitutional recognition.
This year the Expert Mechanism session is scheduled to take place in July to discuss submissions from all over the world. Following this, the expert panel will prepare a report on the militarization of Indigenous lands to be presented to the Human Rights Council at its September session this year.
The submission was put together by key leaders of the Wet’suwet’en opposition group including hereditary chief Woos (Frank Alec), and Gidimt’en Checkpoint spokesperson Sleydo’ (Molly Wickham), along with legal, academic and human rights experts from Canadian organizations and institutions.
The submission summarizes the ongoing dispute between CGL and the Wet’suwet’en group opposing the construction of a 670 kilometre pipeline in northwestern B.C., recently leading to nearly 30 people being arrested by the RCMP in November 2021.
Through a timeline of activities that dates back to 2o19, the submission highlights how “forced industrialization and police militarization” contradicts Canada’s obligations towards UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
“The governments of B.C. and Canada continue to violate Wet’suwet’en jurisdiction and the UNDRIP. Reconciliation will not come at the barrel of a gun,” the report reads.
The submission states that Canada and B.C. must withdraw the RCMP and associated policing and security services from Wet’suwet’en territory and immediately halt construction and suspend all permits for the construction of the pipeline.
Through the submission, the Gidimt’en Checkpoint group has also urged relevant UN bodies to conduct a field visit to their territory.
Binny Paul, is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the TERRACE STANDARD. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada