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  • Indigenous Climate Action

Open Letter to Members of the Legislative Assembly, and Members of Parliament from Indigenous Youth

Photo credit: Indigenous Climate Action

January 21, 2020

Re: Indigenous Youth for Upholding Indigenous Rights and Removing the RCMP and Coastal Gaslink from Wet’suwet’en territory Dear Michelle Mungall, Members of the Legislative Assembly, and Members of Parliament,

we, Indigenous youth, stand in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Nation in defending their unceded territory from Coastal GasLink.

We are Indigenous youth of Nuuchahnulth, Tla’amin, Sto:lo, Namgis, Heiltsuk, Lil’wat, Xwlemi, Qayqayt, Lue Chogh Tue, Shishalh and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nations occupying Michelle Mungall’s political office to encourage you to stand by Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs representing all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in opposition to Coastal GasLink. Coastal GasLink (CGL) has never obtained free, prior, and informed consent to operate within unceded Wet’suwet’en territories. The decision from the BC Supreme Court to extend CGL’s injunction order is a criminalization of Wet’suwet’en law and directly violates their constitutionally protected rights to occupy their own unceded lands, as articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). CGL has enacted irreparable violence upon Wet’suwet’en territories through the destruction of archeological sites, hunting areas, and traplines, as well as brutalization of Indigenous land defenders by RCMP exercising lethal overwatch. The Wet’suwet’en and supporters continue to peacefully observe and respect ancestral laws that have governed them since time immemorial to protect their lands, waters, and climate for future generations. British Columbia, Canada, and the RCMP’s shameful response, including assault rifles, military level invasion, criminalization, and unlawful injunctions is unconstitutional.

As Indigenous youth we stand with Wet’suwet’en assertion of sovereignty because we understand that Indigenous Peoples will cease to exist without our land; our languages, cultures, and future generations cannot survive without our it. Indigenous youth are not only inheriting a climate crisis driven by fossil fuel projects like CGL, but Canada’s legacy of colonization, genocide, and gendered violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. In protecting the lands from industrial development, we are protecting our bodies from violence. As Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, we urge you to be responsible to our future and the future of our traditional territories. 75% of global mining companies are headquartered in Canada. While the Canadian government opens the door for multinational corporations to capitalize upon Indigenous lands, both internationally and within Canada, it is Indigenous youth who will suffer the consequences. Multibillion dollar fossil fuel projects are paid for with our lands, lives, and futures. The Canadian government’s failure to uphold Indigenous consent in the interest of furthering CGL is a continuation of Canada’s warfare against Indigenous lands globally. Canadian politicians can no longer perpetuate Canada’s shameful status quo in relation to Indigenous rights.

We call upon you to do all you can in opposing CGL and the harm it will bring to the people and the land. The Canadian government’s narratives of reconciliation and climate leadership become moot while simultaneously using lethal force to push a pipeline through Indigenous lands against the collective will of the hereditary leadership. Indigenous Peoples defending their lands from destruction are not criminal or disposable. As Indigenous youth, we urge you to uphold Indigenous rights and Wet’suwet’en law by advocating for the removal of CGL and RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territories. British Columbia has recently commited to implement UNDRIP and follow free, prior, and informed consent. The world is watching to see how you will respond.

Our demands as Indigenous youth in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en are as follows:

1.That you do everything within your power as a Canadian politician to ensure that the following demands of Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs are met:

a. That the province cease construction of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline project and suspend permits.

b. That the UNDRIP and our right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are respected by the state and RCMP.

c. That the RCMP and associated security and policing services be withdrawn from Wet’suwet’en lands, in agreement with the most recent letter provided by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s (CERD) request.

d. That the provincial and federal government, RCMP and private industry employed by CGL respect our laws and our governance system, and refrain from using any force to access our lands or remove our people

2. That the BC Premier and relevant Ministers meet with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs to receive and adhere to these demands.

Until Canada demonstrates commitment to UNDRIP by meeting the demands of Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, we will continue to occupy your political offices. We will do everything within our power to protect our future and Wet’suwet’en lands from destruction. It’s time for you to do the same.

Čečehatheč, Chen kwen mantumi, Gilakas’la, ƛ̓eekoo ƛ̓eekoo, Huy chexw a, Mahsi Cho

Ta’Kaiya Blaney, Sii-am Hamilton, Kalilah Rampanen, Danielle Guerrero, Skwetsatsemaat/Tsetasiya (Anne Marie Rex), Tgvayu Wikv (Matthew Reid), Ocean Hyland, Kwastlmut (Sadie Olsen), and Gwantilakw

CC: John Horgan

CC: Trudeau Cabinet

CC: Carolyn Bennett