Statement by the Communist Party of BC Provincial Executive Committee, Nov. 22, 2021

The Communist Party of BC condemns the latest RCMP arrests of twenty people during a violent two-day raid on Wet’suwet’en territory, and demands the immediate dropping of all charges. This is yet another violent chapter in the centuries-long effort by corporations and governments to impose capitalist dispossession of the hereditary lands of Indigenous peoples across this country. These arrests followed the deployment of the RCMP at the direction of Solicitor- General Mike Farnworth, a member of NDP Premier John Horgan’s cabinet – and just as thousands of Indigenous and non Indigenous residents of the province faced record rainfall and the worst flooding in decades. It is particularly telling that as the flooding began, the Horgan cabinet still had not met to declare a state of emergency to help deal with the climate disaster; instead, heavily armed police were arresting land defenders trying to save the earth from the devastating consequences of fossil fuel extraction and export policies.

Regardless of the Horgan government’s policies on other issues, the obvious pattern seen again in this case is their utter refusal to break with the big capitalist energy and forestry interests which have been a dominant force in the BC economy for decades. Some of the worst examples include the quick approval of the Site C dam (after only a token “review” process), the expanded tax credits for LNG projects, the mass arrests of old growth forest defenders at Fairy Creek, and relentless backing for the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline. Despite paying lip service to GHG reduction targets and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the  NDP continues to act very differently in practice, denying the rights of Indigenous peoples and the interests of the global environment.

Perhaps most appalling in the latest arrests, CGL is challenging even the basic rights of those charged to state their Indigenous identities, a shameful racist and sexist example of the legacy of the colonial-era Indian Act. We salute the courage of the defendants, who state proudly: “Even though Coastal GasLink is trying to intimidate us through the colonial court system, we are Wet’suwet’en Strong. Under the governance of our Hereditary Chiefs, there will be no pipeline on our Yintah.”

We also remind the Horgan government of the 1997 Supreme Court Delgamuukw-Gisdaywa ruling which clearly affirmed that Aboriginal title – the right to exclusively use and occupy land – has never been extinguished across 55,000 square kilometers of Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan territories.

Instead of continuing to criminalize Indigenous peoples, federal and provincial governments must begin to truly respect Indigenous Title and Rights, and put a moratorium on fossil fuel expansion, including LNG which is a non-renewable fossil fuel, not “clean energy”.

For more information, contact Communist Party of BC leader Kimball Cariou, 604-255-2041, or the Vancouver Island organizer for the Communist Party, Tyson Strandlund, 250-883-7321.