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"My gift today for you is a vision of having peace.”

By: 
Ryan Schebek

January 13, 2019

Saturday January 12 marked Vancouver’s third day of solidarity actions since the RCMP raid of the Gidimt’en check point where they arrested 14 members of the Wet’suwet’en nation. The check point was set up to control entry to the unceeded Wet’suwet’en lands, and to keep Coastal Gaslink from building their fracked gas pipeline across these lands.

Since it was established, the Gidimt’en Access Point has hosted gatherings, workshops, and traditional activities for Wet’suwet’en, and provided an essential space for Wet’suwet’en to reconnect with their traditional territories. Article 10 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clearly states “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their land or territories.” These arrests directly violate UNDRIP and the provincial and federal government’s promises to implement UNDRIP.

As the Wet’suwet’en continue their fight against Coastal Gaslink they are not alone. Today over five hundred allies showed up to the event with the number growing as the march got under way. The march was organized by Helen Tommy of the Wet’suwet’en nation. Clad in an American Indian Movement jacket, she spoke to the potential environmental damage of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline as well as the displacement of her people, “What are we handing down? But a rotted earth if we have this pipeline goes through our land.”

The January 7 militarized raid, by the RCMP, is still fresh in the minds and hearts of the nation. During that day peaceful protesters were met with media blackouts, assault rifles and armoured cars. Fourteen people were arrested and sent to Prince George. Helen explained, “They were taken away from their town, they were put two towns over into Prince George. How dare they remove my people?”

The January 12 march began at Victory Square on Cambie and Hastings Street at 2pm in Vancouver. The march continued two and a half kilometres down Hastings street to Clark Drive, peacefully blocking intersections and the roadway entrance to the city ports. Helen, her family and friends gave emotional stories of their experience of the effects of colonialism while linking Coastal Gaslink and their injunction as a continuation of this colonial project.

As the sun set and the drumming stopped Helen directed our attention to the sky. This beautiful sunset would be impossible in a world of black smoke, a future all too real if we do not act together to prevent climate disaster. “My gift today, to you, is our voices. My gift today for you is a vision of having peace.”

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