Unist'ot'en Camp

Election 2020: The Wet’suwet’en conflict

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative

This past winter/spring – the conflict between Coastal Gaslink pipeline the BC government and the Wetsuweten Nation resulted in nation-wide solidarity actions and mass protest. The issue was not resolved and protest was quieted by the pandemic.

Photo credit: RCMP arriving at Unist’ot’en camp on Feb 12, 2020 – courtesy Max Thaysen

Cortes Currents reached out to the NDP, Liberal, Green and Conservative candidates for their views on the conflict in Wet’suwet’en territory. We asked how the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples could accord with the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline project.

Reconciliation looks different in every location

John Twigg, the nominee for the Conservative Party said that he didn’t think UNDRIP, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, gave indigenous peoples veto power over economic development, but neither did he think that they should be steamrollered. He also said that he supports reconciliation and that looks different in every location.

Committed to reconciliation

Alexandra Morton, Green party candidate stated that the history of colonization destroyed traditional indigenous governments, and they have been doing heroic work reestablishing their systems. We have to be patient and supportive and if companies can’t handle that process and schedule, then they need to walk away from the resource.

She went on to say that she was part of the Fish Farm occupation in the Broughton Archipelago. That occupation was led, as is the Wet’suwent’en land defence, by the members of first nations and their hereditary chiefs – – the elected chiefs were encumbered by their relationship with the provincial government.

She said that both Adam Olsen and Sonia Furstenau, Green MLAs, came to visit and demonstrated a serious commitment to reconciliation.

She went on to say that the systems of government that were created on the land by indigenous people are primarily concerned with the issues on the land and are therefore often the best systems for caring for the people and places we love.

Did not respond

Liberal Candidate, Norm Facey, did yet not respond to a call and an email in time for publication.

Not sufficient time or local interest

NDP candidate Michele Babchuk directed Cortes Currents to her campaign manager, Kassandra Lowell, who initially sounded positive about making time for an interview. But after consulting with the NDP Regional Media Team, it was decided that there would not be time for an interview. Kassandra said that if the issue had been more urgent or local, she might have been able to make the case to the Regional Media Team to discuss the matter with us, adding we would be on a list if any time became available.

Links of interest:

Top photo credit: Unist’ot’en Camp by Jeff Nicholls via Unistoten Facebook page

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