Save the Children strongly supports community members defending Wet’suwet’en land in British Columbia. Community members are concerned about recent run-ins with RCMP, which have threatened the overall safety and well-being of their lives and neighbours, particularly as they pertain to a healing-lodge in the affected area.
A tentative agreement was reached with the RCMP on accessing the unceded Wet’suweten territory, however, safety concerns for people in the area remain.
“The wellbeing of the Wet’suwet’en community, including its children, must be paramount, and the ongoing concerns of community members on how to protect their land moving forward must be fully addressed,” said Conrad Prince, Save the Children’s National Reconciliation Program Director.
Save the Children is a committed partner in building a reconciled Canada. We believe strongly the people of Wet’suwet’en have the right to be self-determined and to their own cultural identity, which is connected to their traditional territories.
The RCMP’s arrests of land defenders contradicts the Canadian government’s stated commitment to Reconciliation and renewing their relationship with First Nation peoples. Further, as a rights-based organization, Save the Children is concerned these actions violate the rights set out within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which Canada has agreed to uphold.
Save the Children echoes the concerns of community chiefs who have placed emphasis on the need to prevent further trauma caused through the recent RCMP arrests.
“There is a history of trauma between police forces and Indigenous communities,” said Prince.
“Quite often, First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children grow up with damaging experiences and encounters with police forces. Given the historical involvement of the police in removals of children from their communities, and encounters Indigenous children have continued to have with police, the recent arrests and ongoing exposure risk further mistrust and potential trauma.”
“We must do better as a nation. Canada’s Reconciliation is hanging on by a thread, and circumstances like this could have irreversible damage to our nation’s efforts to overcome its past.”
The arrests on Monday by RCMP officers have also been denounced by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
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