Statement from Cuzzins for Wet’suwet’en

The following is a statement originally posted on twitter by Cuzzins for Wet’suwet’en

On February 19th, in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en, we built a blockade on a CN rail line outside of Edmonton and maintained it for over 10 hours.

We are releasing this document as an expression of gratitude and accountability to all of our supporters. This was an amazing expression of communal love and capacity that went beyond all expectations.

People began to make the trip to the blockade only to learn that it had been broken down. We hope that this document helps to reconcile the understandable misgivings you may have toward the blockade and the community groups who built it. Please allow us to explain our reasons.

After establishing the blockade, we encountered resistance from angry counter-protestors near the industrial park starting around noon. We consistently deescalated this anger and maintained our commitment to non-violence, but eventually the number of counter-protestors and their aggression grew. All morning, we received racist comments and death threats. These counter-protestors heightened the risk to our safety. They pressed the blockade and began to attempt to forcibly remove us and our materials from the location. Our commitment to non-violence left us in the position of determining the point where we could safely leave the space and the consequences for future community organizing if our blockade was broken violently.

The Edmonton Police Service and CN Rail Police waited nearby in their vehicles while counter-protestors, including known members of violent racist hate groups continued to harass community members and violently attempt to take apart the blockade, assaulted members of the blockade, heckled elders during prayer and ceremony and obstructed the path of people on the way to their cars.

Their actions were consistent with the violence they threatened our community with online. We were prepared for counter-protestors, misunderstanding and online threats. However, due to the safety of our community being threatened with physical violence, we made the decision to walk away and regroup with the community a later day.

No notice was given about the court hearing for an injunction against the blockade by CN rail. This is another example of colonial courts having no justice for our people and no space for indigenous voices. We were told a negotiator would be on site and to wait. No negotiator showed up. We believe that there is a greater discussion to be had about treaty and land use and the legitimacy of the 30-day provincial court injunction.

Media, politicians and police have celebrated the actions of a white nationalist group attacking peaceful demonstrators, but ignore how the belligerent actions of these counter-protestors are reflective of an anti-Indigenous sentiment here in Alberta that depends on the erasure of Indigenous peoples and the erasure of treaty in order to legitimize the ways Canada, Alberta and industry perpetuate unconstitutional violence on Indigenous peoples.

We are still here. Yesterday’s blockade was a success. For 10 hours, we remained peaceful, non violent and in prayer. For 10 hours, we shut down Canada in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Yintah, the Heriditary Chiefs and ‘Anuc niwh’it’en (Wet’suwet’en law). This action activated and inspired communities, reflected our capacity and woke up spirits of our communities. Our momentum is high, this is not over. It’s just begun.

Photo Credit: Selena Phillips-Boyle
Photo Credit: Selena Phillips-Boyle