Is Canada Respecting Indigenous Land Rights?

Hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en territory have long been fighting to keep energy companies off their land located within the borders of Canada’s British Columbia. Those against a 640-km natural gas pipeline are fearful that the project could contaminate their food and water supply. Unlike other First Nations in Canada, Wet’suwet’en land has never been ceded by treaty to the government.

But complicating the issue is a difference in opinion between two segments of First Nations leadership: While Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs are against TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink project, elected band councils have approved of the pipeline construction.

On February 6, Canadian police entered the territory to remove Wet’suwet’en land defenders from a protest camp. The move by authorities – which protesters view as illegal – has sparked blockades on major rail lines and roads to show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en. Some protesters have been arrested by police. The blockades have led to temporary layoffs for railway workers and disrupted rail service across the country. {Al Jazeera}

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