A Third Letter From the UN to the Government of Canada
For the third time the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has sent a letter to the Canadian government to raise concerns about Canada’s escalated use of force, surveillance, and criminalization against land defenders and peaceful protesters and for Canada’s failure to obtain the free, prior, and informed consent from First Nations for the Coastal Gas Link project and the Trans Mountain Project (TMX). The UN CERD urges Canada to stop construction on these projects until Canada gains consent from Indigenous peoples.
Wet’suwet’en, Tsleil-Waututh, and Secwepemc Nations held a joint news conference May 11 drawing attention to the UN CERD reprimand and calling for construction of the Coastal GasLink and Trans Mountain pipelines to be halted and for police to stop harassing and arrest of nation members for peaceful land defence.
The UN CERD has requested Canada provide reports on the measures taken to address the human rights violations, but no such reports have been filed yet by Canada. These reports were due on November 15, 2021. It seems as if responding to the UN CERD concerns is not a priority for this government.
While the UN letter is addressed specifically to the concerns of the Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en communities in regards to TMX and the Coastal Gas Link Pipeline, these concerns are shared by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, who has also not given consent to the twinning of the TMX pipeline and associated increase in tanker traffic in our territory.
“What this international governing body is saying is treat us fair. If you treat us fair and look at the facts everybody wins…” said Rueben George of the Tsleil Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative, “…This is a warning that they are not good projects in multiple ways, and they are breaking laws in multiple ways”
The UN CERD letter points out that not only have the human rights concerns not been addressed but instances of force, surveillance, and criminalization have actually increased since the first letter was sent. An example of the criminalization of land defenders in TWN territory happened earlier this week when Tsleil-Waututh member Will George was sentenced to 28 days in jail by the BC Supreme Court for acting in peaceful land defence against TMX. The project puts Mr. George’s ancestral lands and waters and community at significant risk. The Sacred Trust calls for Canada to address these human rights concerns and act in response to the UN CERD letter before more people ar harmed.
You can watch the news conference here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZyuj5zi5OM
You can read the official letter from UNCERD here: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CERD/Shared%20Documents/CAN/INT_CERD_ALE_CAN_9554_E.pdf