The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) condemns the escalation of violence, arrests and detainment of Indigenous peoples, social justice activists, land defenders, legal observers, and the people of the unceded, un-surrendered Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan territories by the militarized Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). We are dismayed that during a state of emergency and climate crisis the government of BC has chosen to deploy the RCMP in Wet’suwet’en territory instead of utilizing state resources to assist with relief efforts in areas of the Province of British Columbia that are flooded.
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) pursuant to the Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures expressed in a 2019 decision statement that they were “alarmed” and “disturbed” by the disproportionate use of force, harassment and intimidation by law enforcement officials. They called upon Canada to immediately cease construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project, Site C dam and Coastal Gas Link pipeline, and cancel all permits, until “free, prior and informed consent” is obtained from all the Secwepemc people, the Wet’suwet’en people and the West Moberly and Prophet River Nations, following the full and adequate discharge of the duty to consult.
The CERD urged Canada “to guarantee that no force will be used against Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en peoples” and to withdraw “the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and associated security and policing services from their traditional lands”, and “to prohibit the use of lethal weapons, notably by the RCMP, against indigenous peoples”. The UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a binding international law which Canada has ratified. The CERD is responsible for monitoring countries’ implementation of the Convention. Canada has not complied with the decision, and Wet’suwet’en land defenders are once against being removed from their lands by the RCMP. Despite criticism from the CERD for inadequate response to the concerns raised in the 2019 decision statement, Canada has not replied, made public their previous communications with the CERD or acted to implement the decision.
We further condemn the deployment of the RCMP given the well-documented history of violence, racism, gender-based discrimination, and brutality against Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous women, and girls. At this moment, there is no effective accountability mechanism in place for the RCMP which could hold the RCMP officers responsible for any unlawful acts.
We are concerned by the use of “exclusion zones” at the 27-kilometre mark of the Morice Forest Service Road by the RCMP. The use of an “exclusion zone” at Fairy Creek was found to be unlawful in a ruling by the BC Supreme Court in July 2021 and these actions stand in violation of the ruling. In September 2021, the BC Supreme Court denied an application to extend an injunction against blockades by protestors at Fairy Creek, finding that the actions of RCMP officers put the court’s reputation at risk and that the RCMP’s methods of enforcing the court’s injunction led to “serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties”. We cannot ignore the documentation and numerous in-depth reports criticizing the RCMP’s repeated failure to uphold the rule of law.
We urge Canada to comply with the 2019 Declaration from the CERD Committee, and to take immediate action to remove the presence of militarized RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territory. We also urge Canada to respect and uphold the rule of law in the region, including Canada’s international legal obligations.
For more information contact:
Shelagh Day, Human Rights Committee Chair
Shivangi Misra, Senior Manager of Human Rights
*Click here to download a PDF version of our statement.