In response to third UN letter condemning Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people, members of Secwepemc, Tsleil-Waututh and Wet’suwet’en nations call on government to stop pipeline construction
VANCOUVER | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORIES OF THE xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) FIRST NATIONS — On April 29, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination sent a scathing letter to the Canadian federal and B.C. governments regarding their violent, racist treatment of Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en people peacefully defending their lands from harmful resource extraction.
Despite a similar letter in 2019, the UN CERD, “profoundly regrets and is concerned that despite its calls to the State party, the information received points rather to an increase of the above-mentioned acts against Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en peoples.”
The UN is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Horgan’s governments to, “Cease the construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and the Coastal Gas Link pipeline, until free, prior and informed consent is obtained from, respectively, the Secwepemc people and the Wet’suwet’en people.”
In their news release, the Wet’suwet’en, Secwepemc and Tsleil-Waututh nations say the letter signals “growing international alarm about Canada’s human rights record and ongoing human and Indigenous rights violations against land defenders.”
“Fossil fuel projects have long meant violence for communities,” David Suzuki Foundation executive director Severn Cullis-Suzuki said. “Not only do these projects run completely against a climate-safe future, the UN makes it clear that the way we build these projects violates human rights and leads to intense division and violence for Indigenous communities and land defenders. We can’t continue to say that we uphold human rights and Indigenous rights without following our own commitments to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and proper engagement with Indigenous Peoples regarding their lands and waters. We claim to be committed to reconciliation, but we continue with business as usual. Everyone in Canada should be embarrassed that the UN has repeatedly called us out in this way.”
In 2021, the UN CERD urged the RCMP and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to better protect Mi’kmaw fishers from racism, after they “failed to take appropriate measures to prevent … acts of violence and to protect these fishers and their properties from being vandalized.”
The David Suzuki Foundation supports the calls to halt construction of the pipeline projects until these issues are resolved, and urges the federal and B.C. governments to uphold the principles of UNDRIP, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the 2014 Delgamuukw court decision, as publicly committed.
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