Get Out, Stay Out


An open letter signed by upwards of a hundred Canadian academics calls for the RCMP to leave Wet'suwet'en lands and not come back.

The Wet'suwet'en lands are sovereign territory. The band has never yielded its sovereignty and the Supreme Court said as much.

This is a problem that's been around since British Columbia entered Confederation. One of the side deals between Ottawa and Victoria provided that native land claims would remain under provincial control. Ottawa was happy enough to leave British Columbia first nations to the whim of the colonists.  

For decades the problem remained in abeyance. Treaties were not negotiated, sovereignty remained unceded. The Wet'suwet'en and other nations continued much as they had long before Europeans came to the land. And now we see the result as energy companies, with the backing of governments and the RCMP, ignore first nations' rights.

What makes the current standoff so much worse is that the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs agreed to a route for the Coastal GasLink pipeline but the company insists on a different route that crosses territory the band wants protected.

Supporters of hereditary chiefs can point to the Supreme Court of Canada case Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, which found the nation’s hereditary leadership has jurisdiction over its traditional territory, as justification for their efforts to block the pipeline. But, because the company was issued permits by the province, the B.C. Supreme Court granted Coastal GasLink an injunction that the RCMP is using to clear Indigenous people from their land to allow construction to continue.

The spark behind the latest round of conflict came on Nov. 14 when the Gidimt’en clan, one of five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, announced it would enforce a January 2020 eviction order demanding Coastal GasLink remove its employees from the nation’s unceded land, which spans more than 22,000 square kilometres. The company held firm, kept its workers in place, and the nation closed access to its territory.

So far, dozens have been arrested and removed from the territory just as the conflict enters a new phase — one driven by economic pressures colliding with Indigenous rights — as the over-budget pipeline’s construction approaches the Wedzin Kwa (Morice River). The company plans to drill under the river, which is an important water source that provides clean drinking water and is a spawning ground for salmon.

Not having the consent of the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s hereditary chiefs to build through unceded territory is a problem for several reasons. Free, prior, and informed consent is a requirement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), something that Canada and B.C. have both passed laws to ensure is met. UNDRIP sets out minimum standards that should be followed to protect Indigenous rights and culture.

B.C. signed into law its Declaration Act mandating the province align its laws with UNDRIP in November 2019, months before the last major flare-up over Coastal GasLink. Similarly, in June, Canada formally approved its version of the declaration act, which “requires” the federal government to “take all measures necessary to ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with [UNDRIP].”

Wet’suwet’en law is recognized by Canada’s highest court, and authority over the nation’s land lies with the hereditary chiefs. Smith notes that Indigenous rights are not created through any Canadian legal document. Rather, the rights flow from the fact the nations existed before Europeans arrived — with their own existing laws, systems of governance, and connections to the land.

The Delgamuukw and Tsilhqot’in decisions are important precedents for nations with unceded land because they offer clearer legal standing to negotiate with Crown governments. They’re also decisions with bearing across the country, given that most of B.C., the Maritimes, and huge sections of Ontario and Quebec never signed treaties, meaning the land is stolen.

B.C. and Ottawa are playing cute with UNDRIP, maintaining that it applies only to matters arising since they signed on even though the rights upheld by the declaration predate the arrival of Europeans in Canada.



  1. , meaning the land is stolen......

    Amazing what has been stolen for profit , more amazing is what we steal from the future!


  2. Academics telling the RCMP to go away is mere pissing in the wind. You'd think the eggheads would have more nous, a Briish term that along with gormless, I find sums up people without much of a practical clue at the street level. The dull-minded plodders called the RCMP who enforce things like court injunctions, know only how to use overwhelming force, or as my old retired Mountie pal says, use a sledgehammer to crack a nut and you'll always physically triumph. Instil fear in the "opponent". Beat up First Nations folk in supermarket parking lots and get away with being assholes seems their level of general racism and respect for individuals. PR never enters the equation for those people, The "management" of these dolts and their initial "training" in Saskatchewan is white man colonial superiority horseshit through and through; cultural sensitivity is beyond their ken. Mounties are merely the manifestation of the establishment's desire to crack heads and end the "whining", as they see it, of anyone "stupid" enough to raise their head above the parapet and squawk at injustice. No matter what the law of the land is, it can be bent by swift use of force in many cases before anyone can say "Hey! Wait a minute!". Then you employ teams of lawyers to muddy the waters if anyone persists in complaining, dragging the matter on for years while everyone wanders around in ever decreasing circles of mis and disinformation until they're bored stiff. It's the Canadian Way! Too bad for our plutocracy that our First Nations have a very long memory and refuse to submit to endless mounds of horse manurish obfuscation.

    The real problem here is the federal and BC governments, not their armed enforcement thugs. Imagine the unmitigated gall of the feds saying UNDRIP only applies going forward from the time they signed on! Of course, all those banks, pension funds, oligarchal twats and fellow travellers lobby the feds so they won't "lose" money, having utterly failed to do their due diligence before investing or loaning operational money to the CGL -- which is Trans Canada Pipelines as we knew them before PR spin doctors changed their name. Merely reading the web links you provide here, then back through various past CBC reports, and even a Harvard MBA could easily glean the info that the investment is not worth the pain -- the wrong people, as in band councils, approved the pipeline when they hadn't the right. The SCC says so, so how some ksngaroo court in BC can issue an illegal injunction is beyond the capability of my poor tortured brain cells to grasp. The SCC recognizes the Hereditary Chiefs jurisdiction on land matters in the two landmark cases mentioned, so the BS we have endured since is Big Money attempting to prove black is white to save a lousy "investment". And fuck anyone who gets in the way. Canada's international investment rating is at risk, after all, and we can't allow principle to stand in the way of that, now can we?

  3. The injunction shows that the US isn't the only jurisdiction with racist , politicised judges.

    Everytime the horseman behave like horses asses, I send some money to the Wet'suwetan legal fund

  4. .. I’ve been reading & writing on this insult quite intensively, for some time. My design is to simplify & illuminate the convoluted back story into terms & facts that won’t make Canadians eyes glaze over.

    - At the very root of the insult, Canadians need to be aware that ‘Certainty’ = Land Theft’

    - Unbeknownst to 99.99999 Canadians, The Coastal GasLink Pipeline’s majority owner is a partnership of Alberta & South Korean pension entities (AIMco & KKR per a 2019 purchase from TC Energy, who will remain as the builder & operator

    It’s my informed view that Jason Kenney was negotiating & driving the purchase prior to his UCP party gaining a majority government & likely was setting it up even prior to being elected as an MLA

    I’ll be glad to retrace & describe my pathway to what I have learned. The holy grail to the BC political parties / governments is ‘CERTAINTY’. They can sell Certainty to resource extraction & export entities

    It’s also my belief that Stephen Harper decimated our Navigable Waters Protective Legislation on behalf of Certainty. Justin Trudeau was left with an entangled convoluted & disastrous conundrum - and he certainly shows no interest whatsoever in repealing Harper’s Gambit re Certainty

    Few are aware that a parallel Pipeline ‘Pacific Trails’ was/is getting underway just south of CGL & also had its terminus in Kitimat with its own Liquefaction Plant/Port, Kitimat LNG. That project seems stalled as principle Resource Firms are dropping out.. but the same Divide & Conquer tactic was employed to sign contracts via Reservation Tribal Councils & upfront funds to sweeten deals

    BC & Federal Governments, plus any Resource entities like TC Energy will also use the power of Money, Greed & Legal Obstruction, Delay & Our Courts to grind away at Achieving Certainty over any First Nation Territories

    BTW .. anyone heard even the slightest whisper from Jason Kenney re the conflict on Wet’suwet’en Lands ? Does anyone think he doesn’t have a gigantic vested interest ? Not to mention a Fiduciary Legality to Alberta and to BC ?

    Does a single soul believe John Horgan, Justin Trudeau, Jason Kenney, TC Energy, KKR South Korea were not fully aware & integrated in the full scope of jamming this through

  5. FYI

  6. To be fair!
    The RCMP are a product of our 'elected" government.
    Using the RCMP as a scapegoat is a reflection on, ignorant as it is, Canadian society.
    We are what we elect.
    What we elect are a bunch of wankers.
    Again it comes down to this 'democracy ' thing where millions vote for free beer and lower taxes.



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