London Wet’suwet’en solidarity protest condemns colonial violence

An energetic crowd of more than one hundred gathered in front of the High Commission of Canada in London to oppose the ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and specifically the recent violent police attack on Wet’suwet’en land-defenders in British Columbia. Similar demonstration simultaneously occurred in Edinburgh, following actions in France and Berlin last week.

As organizer Connor explains, “the UK and Europe are watching and condemning Canada’s colonial violence towards the Wet’suwet’en people, who have never surrendered title to their land“.

The Wet’suwet’en people are facing aggressive attacks from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), after an injunction was granted by the BC Supreme Court to Coastal GasLink (CGL) for a fracked gas pipeline earlier this year, culminating in a violent raid on 6 February and the arrest of 30 land defenders. Hundreds of solidarity actions have occurred in support of Wet’suwet’en sovereignty, many of which focus on stopping the colonial flow of capital by blockading rails and ports, including a 3-week rail blockade by the Tyendinaga Mohawks. There have also been blockades by the Mi’gmaq, Gitxsan and Haudenosaunee nations. As participant Zoe summarizes, “police violence has escalated, and on 24 February, the RCMP violently arrested 14 land defenders of the Gitxsan nation, including 3 hereditary chiefs. The Tyendinaga blockade was also forcibly disbanded that morning, with 10 arrested. In the context of rising police attacks on peaceful solidarity actions, it is now more pressing than ever for us to keep international pressure on and tell the RCMP, CGL and the Canadian state to back off Wet’suwet’en sovereign territory”

The theme of international solidarity ran deep during Sunday’s London event, the seventh event in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en thus far in the UK. A speaker from Papua Militant International emphasized “we need to remember the importance of global movements to defend those imprisoned and heavily policed”. A representative of Young London Palestine Solidarity Campaign also read out a statement from the Palestinian National Committee of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en, and a group of Fillippino migrants demonstrated their solidarity with a cultural dance performance at the centre of the rally. Speakers from Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century (rs21) and the UK Youth Climate Coalition drew links between resource extraction and colonial violence, the latter affirming “this will be a long fight – it requires a global movement behind the Wet’suwet’en – against those investing in these projects and against the whole colonial system that underpins the whole of climate breakdown.”

The crowd in London included  members of co-hosting organisations  rs21, Wretched of the Earth, the International Solidarity Group, Jewdas and Reclaim The Power, and chants of “1234 Stop this Colonial War” and “Wet’suwet’en forever, Never surrender” filled the steps of Canada House. The streets of central London were soon echoing with these chants as the march wound its way to the statue of Colonial invader James Cook. After an unprecedented march straight through Hourse Guards Parade onto Whitehall, the march ended outside the Ministry of Defence and Downing Street to further draw connections between British imperialism and the genocide of Indigenous peoples all over the world.

The protestors stated:

“We gathered to call on the government of Canada to immediately accede to the conditions that the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs demand: that the RCMP immediately vacate and cease patrols on Wet’suwet’en territory; that CGL cease all operations on Wet’suwet’en territory while nation-to-nation talks are ongoing; and that Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meet with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs on Wet’suwet’en territory. We also call on those funding the CGL project—JPMorgan Chase, KKR, Barclays and HSBC—to terminate their investments. We call on those in the UK to speak out in support of the Wet’suwet’en and take a stand against the violent legacy of British colonialism and settler colonial occupation of Indigenous peoples around the world.  

Colonial borders won’t divide our movement – Canada, we are watching.”