Gurpreet Singh: Indigenous land defender calls for civil unrest

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      As tensions between First Nations and the Canadian establishment escalate over controversial pipeline projects, Kwitsel Tatel called for “civil unrest” on Thursday (February 6) morning.

      An Indigenous land defender and water protector, Tatel was speaking with Spice Radio where she had gone to participate in its campaign against racism, which started in 2015.  

      Responding to a question about the recent Federal Court of Appeal’s decision in favour of building Trans Mountain Pipeline and RCMP arrests of Indigenous activists camping against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in north-central B.C., she categorically said “We need unrest, civil unrest, because so-called British Columbia will not be beautiful anymore.”

      Tatel has been in the forefront of a grassroots movement against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that many Indigenous people believe is being pushed through their traditional lands without informed consent, with potential to pollute water and destroy their livelihoods.

      The LNG pipeline on Wet'suwet'en traditional territory is also being opposed for similar reasons. The arrests of the activists in that region came shortly after the Federal Court of Appeal decision that has enraged several First Nations.

      It is pertinent to mention that a recent report by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination asked Canada to suspend these projects, as well as the Site C dam.

      Ironically, the B.C. NDP government that enshrined the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in provincial legislation last year remains adamant on building Site C dam, which is going to destroy the livelihood of First Nations people.

      The provincial government is likely to invite the wrath of Indigenous communities following the arrests made in Wet'suwet'en traditional territory.

      It has also triggered the ugly memories of the Gustafsen Lake episode of 1995 when the then attorney general in B.C.'s NDP government, Ujjal Dosanjh, sent an RCMP contingent to arrest Indigenous peoples who had gathered to organize a Sun Dance on their traditional territory. Dosanjh did this ostensibly to protect the interests of ranchers.  

      Launched by Spice Radio, #HandsAgainstRacism encourages people to dip their hands in colour and leave a handprint on a white sheet alongside a message against bigotry.

      Tatel wrote beneath her coloured handprint, “Really, water will find its place!” before she left the studio.