Letter of January 21, 2020, from CUSJ President Bill Woolverton
- Honourable Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources;
- Premier John Horgan;
- Adam Olsen, Interim Leader, Green Party of BC;
- Andrew Wilkinson, Leader of the BC Liberal Party;
- Federal Justice Minister David Lametti;
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau;
- Jagmeet Singh, New Democratic Party of Canada;
- Paul Manley, Green Party of Canada;
- Andrew Scheer, Conservative Party of Canada.
Re: The standoff between the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, the Unistoten House Group, and Coastal Gaslink
Canadian Unitarians For Social Justice is a national faith-based organization that works for justice and equity for all people and especially our first peoples, and for respect for the interconnected web of life on this earth and our need to value that life and protect it.
We wish to express our solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Peoples, and our deep and profound hope that you will do everything in your power to prevent a violent raid on Wet’suwet’en land defenders.
The Wet’suwet’en people (the Unistoten) won title rights to their land in a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the Delgamuukw Decision. This decision established that the Wet’suwet’en Indigenous unceded title rights are collective land or property rights that include exclusive occupation of the land and an inseparable economic interest in the land. It was not just a symbolic decision. It was not the elected chiefs of the reserves who won this case. It was the Hereditary Chiefs; the legal guardians of the land; the representatives of all the generations, past and future. The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Canada is a signatory, declares they have the right to free, prior, informed consent for any proposed activity on their land.
The Government of Canada has declared a climate emergency. Yet the LNG Gas project proposes building infrastructure to continue using fossil fuels for another 50 years. The Oil and Gas sector has a long-standing history of environmental destruction. LNG will require fracking which has a record of causing earthquakes and air and water pollution. While natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel it is not overall a clean fuel. We should not be investing in this type of destructive infrastructure. The Wet’suwet’en people are right: It is time to protect what natural ecosystems and biodiversity we have left.
We should not be building LNG and we should not be meeting the peaceful resistance of the Unistoten with armed force. Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice are totally opposed to an armed military action by the RCMP to remove these people from the land to which they hold title.
Are we a people bound by the law? If we are, I encourage you. Have a meeting with these chiefs and talk about what is important. Talk as long as you need to until you understand each other. And remember they have a right to have a say as to what will happen or will not happen on their land.
We call on you:
- To ensure there will be no violent enforcement of this injunction, and that there will be no removal of the Wet’suwet’en people from their own land.
- To withdraw the RCMP and associated security and policing services from Wet’suwet’en lands, in agreement with the most recent letter provided by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimiation’s (CERD) request.
- To respect the Wet’suwet’en laws and governance system.
And we call on you to ensure a meeting between Wet’suwet’en chiefs, BC Premier John Horgan, and federal Justice Minister David Lametti as soon as possible.
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
#308-347 Seventh Street,
Nanaimo, BC V9R 1E3
cc. Commissioner Brenda Lucki, RCMP
RCMP National Headquarters
73 Leikin Drive
Ottawa ON K1A 0R2