Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller meeting with the Tyendinaga Mohawk group at the blockade just outside of Shannonville. Photo courtesy of Real Peoples Media.
The Tyendinaga Mohawk people and Hereditary Chiefs of Wet’suwet’en held a conference this afternoon and have released a unified statement following their meeting today.
The two groups met and “stood in solidarity at the Mohawk Council House in Tyendinaga to affirm that they will not stand by and watch while Wet’suwet’en title and rights over their lands are ignored, and while human rights abuses continue to happen in Wet’suwet’en territory,” the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs said in a press release on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020.
In contrast to yesterday’s announcement that the BC RCMP were withdrawing from Wet’suwet’en territory, the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en asserted at the meeting that the BC RCMP and the RCMP Community Industry Response Group (CIRG) have actually increased harassment, made illegal arrests, and increased surveillance and monitoring of Wet’suwet’en people and their invited guests.
“This is completely unacceptable and far from a show of good faith and contradicts the announcement by the BC RCMP, the Wet’suwet’en people and their supporters said,” the press release reads.
Both the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and the Mohawk People in Tyendinaga said they “remain deeply concerned by the long list of laws that Canada has broken”, including: Wet’suwet’en law, the Canadian Constitution, the Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw decision of 1997, UNDRIP, and the Geneva Convention on Genocide.
Both Native groups stated it is important for Canada and the world to understand that Wet’suwet’en land was never ceded or surrendered and, as such, Canada’s actions amount to an illegal occupation in Wet’suwet’en territory. “The Canadian Government that the rail line shut downs could have ended many days ago if only Canada, BC, Costal GasLink pipeline (CGL), and the RCMP had honoured their own laws, as well as respected Wet’suwet’en laws,” the statement said.
In an attempt to move forward from the current standstill, the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have put forward the following steps on a “path of peace” so that nation-to-nation discussions with Canada and BC may occur freely and without duress:
“-…that the remote detachment (Community Industry Safety Office) established by the RCMP on Wet’suwet’en territory without our consent be immediately removed and that the RCMP are completely removed from our territory and cease patrols from our lands. Out means out, and
-…that all CGL activities cease within Wet’suwet’en territory while nation-to-nation talks are ongoing as pursuant to the eviction notice that was delivered to them on January 4th, 2020.”
“We commit to entering into nation-to-nation discussions with Canada and BC once the above two demands are met, and we insist when these discussions occur, that they will be held on Wet’suwet’en territory to ensure inclusivity for our nation’s Dini ze’ and Tsakiy ze’ (Hereditary Chiefs), and the members we are accountable to, in accordance with our law.”
Today’s meeting follows the nine-hour meeting between the Mohawk People of Tyendinaga and Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. The Hereditary Chiefs indicated that all sides have said they are keeping the discussions open and remain hopeful.
“Since the beginning, the Mohawk people of Tyendinaga have stated their willingness to allow the trains to pass through their territory and remain committed to do so once it is verified by the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and their appointed legal observers that the BC RCMP are, indeed, out of territory. Upon confirmation, the Mohawks have agreed to negotiate the peaceful exit plan as agreed upon between the Mohawks and the Minister Miller,” the press release continues.
“The Wet’suweten Hereditary Chiefs also want to reiterate to Ministers Carolyn Bennett and Marc Miller that they remain willing to enter into nation-to-nation talks once the RCMP is out of their lands and all work by CGL has ceased.”
The Tyendinaga Mohawk People have remained at the rail crossing at Wyman Road just outside of Shannonville since Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Since then, VIA Rail and CN have progressively shut down rail services, some of which are starting to return to usual operations in the past few days.