Letter to the church from the Moderator and the National Indigenous Elders Council

Photo of Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs taking part in a rally in Smithers, BC, January, 2020
Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs from left, Rob Alfred, John Ridsdale, and Antoinette Austin, who oppose the Coastal Gaslink pipeline, take part in a rally in Smithers, BC, on January 10, 2020.
Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

In late 2018, conflict over who has the right to make decisions about energy projects on traditional Indigenous territories reverberated across the country from the locus point of Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia. A temporary resolution was reached in January 2019, but tensions have arisen again a year later with a new injunction against land defenders, the incursion of militarized police, and arrests.

This is of particular concern given the BC legislature’s recent passage of Bill 41 to harmonize all provincial law with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Solidarity actions have once again broken out across the country.

The ongoing situation on Wet’suwet’en territory reveals, at many levels, how Settler society fails to understand and accept the Indigenous right to self-determination. It demonstrates an acceptance of unbalanced power relationships, and calls into question Canada’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

The Moderator and the National Indigenous Elders Council have discerned together how The United Church should respond, and offer this letter to the church.

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Letter in Support of Wet'suwet'en (Feb 2020) 469.49 KB PDF