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Respecting Human Rights & De-escalation of RCMP Presence at Gidimt'en Checkpoint of the Wet'suwet'en

News Release

November 23, 2021


Further court and police involvement threatens the safety of vulnerable Indigenous population including Indigenous Elders, Matriarchs, women, and families.

(Unceded Territory of Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C.)

Protect Our Indigenous Sisters Society calls upon the provincial government of BC and the RCMP under the authority of the Government of Canada to withdraw and de-escalate the situation at Gidimt’en Checkpoint in Wet’suwet’en territory in order to move to good faith negotiations with the Wet’suwet’en House and Clan leadership and elected Indian Act councils in the territory. Although agreements have been signed with some elected band councils an agreement has not been made with hereditary house and clan leadership. RCMP acted upon a BC Supreme Court injunction obtained by Coastal GasLink and 15 people were arrested on Friday, November 19, 2021 along with several reporters.

Indigenous Nations are diverse with diverse people, communities, opinions and governments need to work with whole Indigenous Nations not just certain groups in order to garner approval on development projects that affect the lands, waters, fish and wildlife in Indigenous territories.

The BC Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (BCDRIPA) enacted by the Province of BC became law in November 2019 and the province has committed to reconciliation. The arrest of Wet’suwet’en House and Clan members who are part of the hereditary governance of these territories contravenes the intent of the protection of Indigenous human rights and for Indigenous people to be part of the decisions that affect them, their families and their territories. The area in question Wedzin Kwa are sacred headwaters, containing clean drinking water and a salmon spawning river. Of particular concern is the militarization of the RCMP that has been turned against Wet’suwet’en Elders and Matriarchs who are standing up to protect their land and territories for future generations and their children. POISSBC is concerned that the victimization of Indigenous Elders, Matriarchs, children and families will have long standing negative affects amongst this population that is still healing from Indian Residential Schools, historic and present day systemic racism, and still grieving the discovery of over 7,000 Indigenous children in unmarked graves from the Indian Residential Schools. The National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls concluded that violence against Indigenous people—including Indigenous women and girls—is rooted in colonization and amounts to genocide. For the violence against Indigenous women and girls to end, the ongoing colonial relationship that facilitates it must end and for governments in Canada to respect international commitments to human rights as outlined in BCDRIPA. POISSBC calls for the Province of BC and the federal government through the RCMP to respect the recommendations of the NIMMIWG including:

· All government policies must be in compliance with human rights obligations including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

· All governments, and in particular Indigenous governments and Indigenous representative organizations, must take urgent and special measures to ensure that Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people are represented in governance and that their political rights are respected and upheld.

· All resource-extraction and development industries to consider the safety and security of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, as well as their equitable benefit from development, at all stages of project planning, assessment, implementation, management, and monitoring. All governments and bodies are mandated to evaluate, approve, and/or monitor resource development projects to complete gender-based socio-economic impact assessments on all proposed projects as part of their decision making and ongoing monitoring of projects.

· In sentencing Indigenous women: re-evaluate the impacts of Gladue principles on sentencing equity as it relates to violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people; consider violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people as an aggravating factor at sentencing; include cases where there is a pattern of intimate partner violence and abuse as murder in the first degree.

In research on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found rates of violence, including domestic violence and sexual assault, is 3 to 5 times higher for Aboriginal than non-Aboriginal women in Canada (Brzozowski, Taylor-Butts, & Johnson, 2006; Native Women’s Association of Canada [NWAC], 2010). Aboriginal women also experience the most severe forms of violence, including being sexually assaulted, beaten, choked, or threatened with a gun or a knife (Brennan, 2011). Young Aboriginal women are five times more likely than other Canadian women of the same age to die of violence (Amnesty International, 2014). The violence and aggression towards Indigenous peoples in particular Elders, Matriarchs, Women, children and families must stop in order to work towards a just society in Canada and uphold commitments for reconciliation.

About Protect Our Indigenous Sisters Society. Our goal is to work in Indigenous communities to end violence and to make communities safer for Indigenous, women, girls, boys, families and LGBTQ2S+ through advocacy, policy, research and action through pragmatic solutions and with the grounding of our Indigenous teachings.


For more information or to get involved with POISS, please contact:

Dr. Cheryl Matthew, Executive Director

Phone: (604) 999-1264


Twitter: @poissbc

PDF version available here:

Wetsuweten Land Defenders 11.23.2021 pdf
Download PDF • 735KB

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