Filed under: Action, Canada, Development, Indigenous, Land, Solidarity
The mass wave of action in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation, who is fighting to remove both the Canadian security forces and the Coastal GasLink corporation from their unceded lands, continues to have a massive impact on supply chains across so-called Canada. In response, growing sectors of the financial and political elites have begun heavily demonizing the protests, as solidarity actions show no signs of letting up.
According to CBC:
CN Rail and Via Rail are shutting down huge sections of their railway networks as Indigenous blockades continue to cripple the country’s transportation systems.
Via Rail is temporarily ending all passenger services nationwide, expanding an earlier work stoppage that restricted train cancellations to the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor.
“Via Rail has no other option but to cancel its services, effective immediately and until further notice,” the rail operator said in a statement on its website.
CN Rail, the country’s largest railway, is “initiating a progressive and orderly shutdown of its Eastern Canadian network” because Tyendinaga Mohawk protesters near Belleville, Ont. have so far refused to dismantle their blockade.
“With over 400 trains cancelled during the last week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our mainline, we have decided that a progressive shutdown of our Eastern Canadian operations is the responsible approach to take for the safety of our employees and the protestors,” J.J. Ruest, the president and CEO of CN, said in a media statement. [Our emphasis.]
The rail blockades, who’s impact has been compounded by additional port blockades, freeway shutdowns, and the occupation of Liberal and other political party offices, are starting to have a sizable impact on the economy. So far, Canada’s Finance Minister and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have issued boilerplate pleas for a return to normalcy and the rule of law, coupled with veiled threats to end the protests “as soon as possible.”
Calls from elites for a clampdown are increasing however. On Thursday on Canadian TV, a representative for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce stated:
Until we have rail service resumed, I would say no level of government is fulfilling its duties to help uphold the rule of law and ensure that commerce can flow freely throughout our country. We’re approaching a crisis, and we don’t see the sense of urgency that we believe we need to see from provincial and federal authorities.
Supporters of the pipeline – and for a police crackdown against the protests, currently are ramping up rhetoric against Native militants and those in solidarity with them. Writing in the conservative National Post, Stephen LeDrew, wrote: “This is not protest, it is insurrection,” and called demonstrators “lawless.” Ironically, LeDrew and others like him are pushing for the continued invasion of the Wet’suwet’en Nation for the purpose of installing a pipeline against the wishes of tribal leaders, all of which violates a multitude of laws.
'One in seven Indigenous entrepreneurs exports goods. This is directly impacting some of their businesses.'
— CKNW (@CKNW) February 14, 2020
For the elites, the issue is not the law; they’ve always had ways around such things, either through brute military force or the creation of a puppet system of “band councils,” the issue is that the continued protests frighten off potential investors of various energy projects. In short, the disruption of business as usual actually threatens business.
Unlike the largely symbolic and tame climate “strikes” and marches, the Wet’suwet’en struggle represents a clear threat to both the settler State as well as the system of industrial capitalism which it props up. Here’s a roundup of current solidarity actions and ongoing blockades.
Active Rail Blockades
Solidarity blockade erected in Winnipeg. SOURCE: @WimmoFreedom201
On Thursday, February 13th, a blockade was launched at the Coquitlam rail line, according to activists, “the most important CP train yard in Metro Vancouver.”
This it the latest rail blockade across so-called Canada. From Montreal Counter-Info:
In response to the brutal raids of Wet’suwet’en territory in recent days, rapidly multiplying rail blockades led by Indigenous communities from coast to coast have been bringing the Canadian economy to a screeching halt, while ports, highways, and legislature buildings are blockaded as well.
This interactive and continuously updated map shows the Canadian rail system in its entirety, and indicates the location of active rail blockades and the corresponding affected rail lines.
Acts of Sabotage
Acts of sabotage have also been ongoing. According to a communique posted to Puget Sound Anarchists in Whatcom County, Washington:
In solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en fight for sovereignty and life against colonizers and their greed/dominance, and in response to their callout for solidarity actions, we disrupted all rail traffic in so-called Whatcom County, ceded Coast Salish territory. We targeted multiple points along both east and west tracks, and we disrupted the western line both north and south of Whatcom’s two refineries, Phillips 66 and BP’s Cherry Point Refinery, preventing transport to and from the refineries.
As another solidarity communique notes, one major rail line connects Seattle to Vancouver, passing and transporting product from 4 of Washington’s 5 refineries along the way. The line splits just south of Whatcom County, with the majority of traffic using the westernmost track (along the coast) and other cargo flowing along the eastern/backup line (along highway 9).
Our action is the latest in a series of solidarity acts with the Wet’suwet’en: In Hamilton, Montreal, Minnesota, Kingston, Guelph, Burlington, Vancouver, Olympia, and once before in Whatcom county, local people have taken power into their own hands.
In Hamilton, Ontario according to a communique posted to NorthShore Counter-Info:
As the Wet’suwet’en, the Mohawks of Tyendinaga, and Coast Salish people all burned injunctions handed down by colonial courts today, we thought to act in solidarity with them.
Overnight, we burned a small road crossing signal box on the CN line. It’s default is to activate the road crossings if tripped, so no people were in danger.
We chose rail because it has a long history aiding in the colonization and confederation of Turtle Island and the displacement and death of Indigenous people with deep economic impacts. It is impossible to defend, even in the busy city – so tonight proves.
Fuck the state. Fuck the colonial courts. It’s time to stand up and shut shit down.
Meanwhile in Guelph, Ontario, another communique was posted as well to NorthShore Counter-Info which read:
Tonight we sabotaged CN Rail at 3 different locations in Guelph, Ontario.
As settlers, we took this action in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en people who are currently facing violent attacks by the RCMP and are holding down the front line to protect the health of their territory. CN rail is a culprit in supporting this colonial and destructive project as partners in transporting the infrastructure that will build this pipeline and the man camps, which create an increase in violence against indigenous women on the territory.
We were inspired by the many different #shutdowncanada actions that have targeted rail- and this call for action attacking the railways.
Street Protests Continue as Attorney General’s Office Occupied
Street demonstrations and shutdowns continue. In New York, NY, people demonstrated in solidarity.
Protesters are doing a sit-in outside of the United Nations HQ in NYC in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en land defenders in British Columbia, Canada. Indigenous folks are fighting to keep a gas fracking pipeline from being built on their land. #WetsuwetenStrong pic.twitter.com/27A3tX6iXB
— Ash J (@AshAgony) February 12, 2020
In Minneapolis, MN, people held a sit-in at the Canadian consulate.
View this post on Instagram
Resistance showed up at the Canadian consulate today in Dakota territory, with sweet grass, prayers, and a message from our relatives up north facing oppression, suppression, and ongoing genocide. The consulate called the cops before they answered the doorbell. Sitting behind glass, with three armed officers, they said just one of us could come in. The indigenous sisters here refused to split up, as that is what these corporate colonial forces do — they divide us to get what they want. We stand strong with #Wetsuweten. We stand strong with the indigenous youth throwing down across Turtle Island. Follow their stand for what is right: @gidimten_checkpoint #StolenLands #BloodyHands #WetsuwetenStrong #WorldIsWatching
In Saskatoon, SK, demonstrators blocked major intersections.
— Brady Lang (@BradyLangSK) February 13, 2020
In Nelson, BC protesters locked down inside a bank.
There's a group in Nelson, Sinixt territory, that has been blockading the Bank of Montreal since noon today in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en. Media is informed, but not showing up – so we interviewed one of the organizers, Kian Cham, about the ongoing action.#WetsuwetenStrong pic.twitter.com/sJglylPYSk
— Red Braid Alliance for Decolonial Socialism (@stopdisplacemnt) February 13, 2020
In Vancouver and Ottawa, protesters took to the downtown and shut down streets.
— Mackenzie Gray (@Gray_Mackenzie) February 12, 2020
— Nayeli Jimenez (@nayelijs) February 12, 2020
Also in Vancouver, demonstrators occupied on Thursday the office of B.C. Attorney General David Eby.
‘Reconciliation cannot happen at the end of a carbine rifle’: In Vancouver about a hundred people occupied the office of B.C. Attorney General David Eby in supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline. pic.twitter.com/VfhpV21o7k
— APTN News (@APTNNews) February 13, 2020
As Charlie Smith wrote:
The office occupation comes on the same day that the Gidimt’en Checkpoint tweeted disturbing images of an RCMP raid on February 7.
Two of those arrested, Tlingit member Anne Spice and Gitxsan member Denzel Sutherland-Wilson, were standing in a tower at this checkpoint when the video was taken.
Heavily armed police are seen on the snow-covered ground as Spice is heard shouting at the officers that they are unarmed.
Sutherland-Wilson then pleads to one of the officers to stop pointing a gun at him, saying there is no need to do this.
“I have nothing, Please take down your weapon. I’m asking you,” Sutherland-Wilson screams.
The officer keeps his rifle targeted on him.
“Media, can you please get footage of them pointing their gun at me,” Sutherland-Wilson shouts.
WARNING: This video contains graphic images of an armed threat on the lives of land defenders Denzel Sutherland-Wilson (Gitxsan) and Anne Spice (Tlingit). It may be traumatic for many to see. But we feel strongly that it should be available to witness. #WetsuwetenStrong pic.twitter.com/SDu6GDHpn6
— Gidimt’en Checkpoint (@Gidimten) February 13, 2020