Filed under: Canadian Tire Fire, Featured
cover photo: @critcim
On September 19th, the day of a national commemorative ceremony for Queen Elizabeth, folks on the west coast held a lively anti-colonial counter-gathering calling for the abolishment of the monarchy.
To update a story from our last column, Innu protesters ended their blockade of an industry rail line in Northern Quebec on September 16th, after 10 days.
Our stories this week cover the developments in Wet’suwet’en territory, where the drilling under Wedzin Kwa has begun, but the fight is far from over. We’ve also got an explanation of Nova Scotia’s announcement to end migrant detention in their provincial prisons. In news from Vancouver’s downtown eastside: cops drove right into a resident and injured them, and another SRO fire threatens to displace more people from their homes.
Read on for the full stories!
Drilling Begins Under Wedzin Kwa, The Fight Is Not Over
In Wet’suwet’en territory, Coastal Gaslink and the cops have succeeded in getting the drill in place on the yintah to begin the work of tunneling under Wedzin Kwa. Wet’suwet’en and their supporters’ years of resistance on the yintah, including months of occupation of the drill pad by Coyote Camp, evictions of police and industry, blockades, and more, have delayed the drilling significantly. Solidarity actions including rail blockades, RBC targeting, and everything in between, have contributed to the struggle from coast to coast. In February, an unclaimed attack on equipment at the drill site caused millions of dollars of damage and more delays. While the drill’s arrival is a horrible and heartwrenching development, Wet’suwet’en on the front line have been unambiguous: the fight is not over.
In an interview in the immediate aftermath of the drill’s arrival, Sleydo’ doubled down that Gidimt’en will not give up. No pipe has been laid in Gidimt’en territory, section 7 of the pipeline. The pipeline will never be put into service.
Sleydo, (Molly Wickham), Wet’suewet’en Gidimt’en Clan land/water defender says they are not defeated & “Fucking mad as hell.” But they will keep putting “one foot in front of the other” to defend their Yintah from CGL pipeline that’s beginning to drill under sacred Wedzin Kwa. pic.twitter.com/VFUf1X9M8K
— Brandi Morin (@Songstress28) September 19, 2022
The beginning of drilling comes in the context of yet another reveal that CGL has received more than 50 notices of environmental violations during pipeline construction so far. And while the environmental destruction continues and begins to more immediately threaten Wedzin Kwa, the repression of land defenders rages on as well.
Over the last two months there have been 5 arrests, including assault w/ pepper spray, during so called "routine" traffic stops. Wet'suwet'en people & their supporters are being targeted by the RCMP with an ongoing intimidation & harassment campaign. #rcmpofftheyintah @Gidimten pic.twitter.com/SgPpw3K5aA
— rcmpofftheyintah (@rcmpoffyintah) September 21, 2022
On and off the yintah, people refuse to give up. Activists continue to target RBC for funding the pipeline, with an uptick of symbolic actions by groups such as Decolonial Solidarity. There was also a clear presence of opponents to the project at September 23rd’s climate strike demonstrations.
And the importance of this moment even has representatives of environmental NGOs aware of the need to pull out all the stops and escalate opposition to the project: “People are becoming aware this is a critical time in a decade-long resistance fight, and so the next things that come through, I would just assume that all tactics are on the table.”
We’ll be keeping an eye out for how things develop. Solidarity with everyone on the front lines and those supporting them from afar!
Nova Scotia Announces End To Migrant Detention in Provincial Prisons
The Province of Nova Scotia announced last week that migrants will no longer be held in its provincial prisons. The province has given Canada Border Services Agency, a branch of the federal government, a years’ notice for the termination of their contract, after which time the province will no longer hold migrants in its prisons. Nova Scotia is the second province to make this move, after B.C. made a similar announcement in July of this year.
The practice of migrant detention is widespread across Canada. The number of migrants incarcerated reached its highest rate ever in 2020, with nearly 9,000 people locked up in migrant detention centers or provincial prisons. CBSA has the discretion to detain immigrants and refugee claimants indefinitely on a variety of grounds. Some detainees are held in dedicated migrant detention centers, while others are held in prisons through contracts with provincial governments.
Migrant rights advocates have celebrated this announcement as a human rights victory. The ultimate implications of the announcement remain unclear – the onus has been put back on the federal government to determine what to do with people who had been locked up in Nova Scotia. They may move those people to be detained in another province, expand federal migrant detention capacity in Nova Scotia, or attempt to re-negotiate with the province. Ideally, this announcement will push the federal government to move away from migrant detention and re-dedicate resources to supporting migrants and refugee claimants in their communities. The chances for this outcome will likely increase if more provinces follow suit in moving away from facilitating migrant detention. Groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are pushing for similar changes in other provinces, particularly Ontario, where nearly half of all immigrant detainees in Canada are currently held.
News from Vancouver’s DTES
Vancouver Police are once again facing public criticism for brutality against Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents. On September 20th, a Vancouver Police vehicle rammed into a man standing in the roadway at high speed. Camera footage from the area showed that the man had been standing in the road for a few minutes, and had been avoided by other vehicles before being hit by the police car. More footage then shows that police officers swarmed the scene, one knocking a first responder to the ground and about 25-30 officers surrounding the site for the next two hours. The man who was hit was later released from the hospital. This incident comes a month after Vancouver Police killed a man in the DTES by shooting him multiple times with a bean gun.
We received disturbing footage of the incident. Video & analysis below: (1/12) pic.twitter.com/0fGH83yrTJ
— VANDU (@VANDUpeople) September 23, 2022
In other news from the DTES, a fire in a single-room occupancy building caused more than 50 people to be evacuated from their homes on Saturday, September 24th. No one was injured and most of the residents are expected to be able to return to their homes by Monday. This is at least the fourth fire in a DTES SRO building in just over a month. Community members are calling for more attention to and enforcement of fire code violations by SRO operators.