Statement Of Solidarity With Wet’suwet’en Nation Land Defenders

March 31, 2023

Oxfam Canada stands in solidarity with the First Nations peoples of the unceded, unsurrendered Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan territories, who are standing up for their rights and sovereignty in the face of the largest fracking project in Canadian history, the Coastal Gas Link pipeline.  

On the morning of March 29, 2023, RCMP forces raided a Gidimt’en village site and arrested five land and water defenders, mostly Indigenous women, using a search warrant for a theft under $5000 with no relation to the site. These arrests follow a period of surveillance and harassment and continued deployment of the RCMP by the governments of Canada and British Columbia to intimidate and forcefully remove peaceful protestors from their lands.  

With Indigenous women on the frontlines of land defense and water protection movements, we are deeply concerned by continued state-sanctioned violence against land defenders and activists which criminalize Indigenous people, especially Indigenous women.  

This use of force is not limited to Wet;suwet’en territory. In 2020, a group of Haudenosaunee women published a statement regarding the use of injunctions at 1492 Land Back Lane in Ontario. In their statement, they referred to the ways in which Canadian legal systems violate and criminalize the rights and responsibility of Indigenous women by preventing them from fulfilling their responsibilities to the land and future generations in accordance with Haudenosaunee Law. That is in contradiction to article 25 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.” 

Oxfam Canada calls on the federal and provincial governments to live up to their human rights obligations – including the recommendations from the UN CERD – and their commitments to respect and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is now enshrined in law both federally and provincially. Moreover, we call on federal and provincial governments and police forces to speed up the implementation of the 231 Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Recognizing Indigenous women’s roles as leaders and stewards of the land is crucial to developing lasting solutions that will ensure the rights of Indigenous peoples are upheld.  


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