• Ella Wischnewsky

Wet’suwet’en Outcry and Government Indifference


The Wet’suwet’en people have been protesting Coastal GasLink and its installment of a pipeline in the home of the Unist’ot’en in Houston, B.C. The TransCanada-owned company has started work on the pipeline despite protests against it (Trumpener). Construction of the pipeline goes against the values of the Unist’ot’en people and their right to their land.

The government has a duty to protect its people, especially from large corporations that can exploit them. However, the Canadian government is failing to do so and is instead supporting TransCanada in their new attempt to transport oil. While the Canadian government is “publicly committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP),” their work with TransCanada explicitly goes against this declaration (Bellrichard).

The issue of eminent domain is specifically interesting in regards to the Indigenous people. While the government has asserted its ownership over Canadian land in order to build this pipeline, they are ignoring the right of Unist’ot’en people to the land that has been theirs long before Canada as an independent nation even existed. The impacts that the pipeline will have on the environment threaten the ideals of the Unist’ot’en people, and goes against their commitment to the Earth (Informational Update).

Members of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, which includes hereditary chiefs, are continuing to stand against the pipeline despite the government’s negligence, by standing against the invasion of private and public land imposed by the project (Trumpener). This issue has led to the arrest of numerous Wet’suw’en citizens and supporters who strongly stand against the pipeline. Their continued protest is a testament to their commitment even when the likelihood for government cooperation remains implausible.

However, some government leaders have taken action. A Supreme Court Judge of British Columbia has stated her belief that it is in the “public interest to invite the Crown to intercede.” (Trumpener) In doing so, she has effectively expressed her dissatisfaction towards the Canadian government’s approach in dealing with this issue.

The controversy surrounding this pipeline raises questions about the Canadian government's ability to properly govern for its citizens rather than against them. Their refusal to back down from such an oil project signifies their indifference both towards the environment, and their citizens.

References

Bellrichard, Chantelle. “Wetsuweten Hereditary Leaders, Supporters Call for Stop Work Order

on Coastal GasLink Pipeline | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 3 Feb. 2019,

www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/wet-suwet-en-stop-work-coastal-gaslink-pipeline-1.5003495.

“Informational Update on Wet'suwet'en.” Sierra Club BC, 10 Jan. 2019,

sierraclub.bc.ca/tag/fracking/.

Trumpener, Betsy. “Attorney General Asked to Intercede in Unist'ot'en Arrests | CBC News.”

CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 5 Feb. 2019, www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/unistoten-wetsuweten-pipeline-coastalgaslink-protest-civil-disobedience-1.5005633.


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