Before the rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory will be voluntarily removed, the B.C. RCMP must leave the Wet’suwet’en Territory.
That was the message delivered by Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Woos, who also goes by Frank Alec, when he was addressing a large gathering of media in the basement of the Mohawk Community Centre on the TMT. The chief was one of several members of the Wet’suwet’en territory who made the trip to speak with the protestors on the Tyendinaga Territory.
A planned press conference at the Mohawk Community Centre was delayed a bit so the members could watch an address by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. During his address Trudeau told reporters “It has been two weeks and the barricades need to come down now.”
The prime minister did not allude to what, if any, steps would be taken if the protestors didn’t leave on their own.
After holding a short vote in private on how to respond to Trudeau, the members of the Wet’suwet’en territory allowed reporters into the Mohawk Centre to make some comments.
“We heard Prime Minister Trudeau just a little while ago talking about the inconvenience that Canada has suffered,” said Woos. “However, there is a difference between inconvenience and injustice. Total difference. Don’t confuse one with the other.”
“Today the Mohawk people and the Wet’suwet’en people stood in solidarity at the Mohawk council house in Tyendinaga to affirm that they will not stand by and watch while Wet’suwet’en rights to their land are ignored and while human rights abuses continue to happen on the Wet’suwet’en territory,” added Woos.
He continued by saying despite an announcement by the RCMP that they would be pulling out of the territory yesterday, they remain. He also noted that hereditary chiefs in the area report increased harassment, illegal arrests and surveillance of their members by the RCMP.
Their full removal would lead to Tyendinaga’s blockade being voluntarily removed, said Woos. For a ‘nation to nation’ discussion to occur, the RCMP must leave and all Coastal GasLink activities in their territory would have to cease. Only then would they speak with the government in a meeting they say must take place on Wet’suwet’en territory.
“Why are the RCMP in territory that Canada doesn’t have treaty with?” said Kanenhariyo of the Tyendinaga Mohawk, who also goes by the name Seth Lefort. “The hinderance is invading territories that are not part of the Dominion of Canada. Your prime minister has committed a crime.”
Hastings Lennox and Addington MP Derek Sloan released an open letter to the prime minister and Ontario Premier Doug Ford calling for an end to the blockade.
“The public in my community are at a tipping point,” Sloan wrote. “They support the right for legal, respectful protests. I would argue with the injunction in hand, the protest at Wyman Road is no longer legal nor is it respectful considering the huge impact it had on freight and passenger rail.”
“My constituents, along with millions of Canadians, are calling on each of you as leaders of your provincial and federal jurisdiction; to show the necessary courage to ensure our roads, bridges and railways are unimpeded by radical protests,” Sloan added.