Rights, Justice, Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

Hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation. Art: Christi Belcourt

We believe in, support, maintain, and work towards our enshrined and collective Rights.  First Nations and Indigenous Rights, Title, Sovereignty and Self-Determination reside in First Nations and Indigenous HomeLands, Hereditary Chiefs[1]and Matriarchs, traditional laws, philosophies, systems, arts, and practices, and are recognized in International and Canadian law, policies, courts and other legal frameworks.

In addition to inherent traditional, long-standing, Indigenous legal processes and tools, Indigenous Rights are further recognized and enshrined in legal instruments such as the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and are recognized and affirmed in court cases such as Delgamuukw vs. British Columbia (1997), and  many others.

We condemn the lawless invasion of armed intruders into peaceful HomeLands of Indigenous peoples, especially the recent raid by the rcmp into Wet’suwet’en unceded HomeLand. Canada’s targeting, armed invasion, assaults, violent forced removals, and imprisonment of those of us asserting our Indigenous laws, and our Sacred Obligations and Responsibilities to HomeLand, are egregious violations of all global standards of Civil Rights, Indigenous Rights and Title, and Environmental Justice. The invasion of Wet’suwet’en HomeLand is outside of all rational legal justification. Furthermore, those in power have criminalized Indigenous peoples and Nations for fulfilling their/our responsibilities to our HomeLand and all of her Beings, for this and for future generations, with respect to those ancestors gone before.

Canada’s tragic colonial history of wrong-doing and rights violations against Indigenous Peoples via bureaucratic manners, legislative and judicial violences, and armed invaders against Indigenous Peoples continues today. That Canada and her courts have failed Indigenous peoples and violated our Rights is substantiated by history, acknowledged via Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and by Canadian and Provincial governments apologies for their actions. Any sincerity and integrity of such apologies is negated by continued government acts of violence, Rights violations, and forced removal of Indigenous peoples. Canada’s invasion of Wet’suwet’en Territory is contrary to all recognized norms of Justice.

Indigenous peoples practice Spiritually, culturally, and politically, to meet their/our civil, social, and Spiritual responsibilities to HomeLand and all of her Beings, for all of our Lives, for our secure present and future of all Living Beings.  That sacred duty is invested in the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en People, not in the so-called elective band counsels (a colonial imposition), whose mandate is limited to administration of funds provided via the Indian Act (in itself, Canada’s termination strategy against Indigenous peoples). Sovereign Rights may not and cannot be terminated by any court nor elected band council. Rights are inherent and enshrined. Court mandated violent suppression of the sovereign rights of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en People is our collective tragedy, highlighting the capricious errors of certain ones in positions of power.

Short-term financial gains by and for outsiders who destroy the HomeLand and her Life-supporting Nature imposes severe poverty upon Indigenous and rural communities. This is not a democratic economy, it is ruin of the Power of Land, Water, and all of Land’s Beings upon whom we all depend.

We are in support of the Wet’suwet’en to maintain their HomeLand and to live in their legal, justified, enshrined Rights to their unceded Nation and Home. We live and work in our responsibility to HomeLand Place, and are allied in solidarity with Justice actions taking place throughout Canada, Europe, the United States, many Indigenous Nations, and throughout the world.

#AllEyesOnWet’suwet’en, #Justice

- annie ross (Maya), Professor. Department of Indigenous Studies, Simon Fraser University

Signatories:

  • Kicya7 Samahquamicw of the Ucwalmicw (Joyce Schneider), Department of Indigenous Studies, SFU
  • Rudy Reimer Yumks, Department of Indigenous Studies, SFU
  • Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis), Department of Indigenous Studies, SFU
  • Clint Burnham, Department of English, SFU
  • Maddie Knickerbocker, Department of Indigenous Studies, SFU
  • June Scudeler, Department of Indigenous Studies, SFU
  • Elise Couture-Grondin Department of Indigenous Studies, SFU
  • Aman Chandi, Department of Indigenous Studies, SFU
  • Phil Cunningham, Department of Indigenous Studies, SFU
  • Christine Lyons, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, SFU
  • Marina Van Driel, Sustainability Office, SFU
  • Ash Tanasiychuk, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, SFU
  • Erin Brown-John, Student Services, SFU
  • Aurore Plavis, Student Services, SFU
  • Michael Chang, KEY, SFU's Big Data Initiative 
  • Alyssa Quan, School of International Studies, SFU
  • Maria Popa, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, SFU
  • Jenna Walsh, W.A.C. Bennett Library, SFU
  • Julia Lane, W.A.C. Bennett Library, SFU 
  • Sabine Bitter, School for the Contemporary Arts, SFU
  • Ellen Yap, School for International Studies, SFU)

If you wish to add your name to this list of signatories, please email fnst_comm@sfu.ca

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[1] Hereditary Chiefs and Matriarchs are the true leaders for each Nation, with Rights and in Protocol, for the HomeLand, Nation, Peoples, and all of Earth’s Beings, fulfilling millenia-long Indigenous Responsibility to HomeLand Place. Elected chiefs are those put in power by government and corporate interest, voted on in the western manner, with implied power solely over reserve lands, a system created under the infamous Indian Act (a tool for Indigenous termination), and are there to advance the cause of the Canadian government, corporations, and other profit-seeking individuals for short-term monetary gains. Elected chiefs believe they have been granted power via the Canadian state, although this is a topic of dispute, especially when specific decisions run counter to the will of the people they claim to serve, or when their decisions ruin water, land, and air, or when the so-called economic development leaves ruin, inability to provide food for ones’ community, poverty, and despair. Chiefs have no rights nor power to decide in any matter, in the traditional Chieftainship system (which includes many types of Leadership specific to each diverse Indigenous Nation, such as Clan Chief, Kiva Chief, Winter, Summer Clan, Houses, et cetera). There are billionaires and holders of high-level awards, such as the Order of Canada, who gained from ruin of Indigenous lands, communities, and peoples, especially in mining, tar sands, hydro, and deforestation, while Indigenous peoples go without fulfillment of basic human needs.