Photography by Kevin Aichele
On Saturday, November 5th, numerous Indigenous activists and land defenders, along with settler allies, took part in a nation wide demonstration in solidarity support for the people of Wet’suwet’en.
Socialist Action took part in a Toronto action at the RBC location at 382 Yonge Street, near the intersection of Yonge and Gerrard. The actions held across so called Canada were organized by Decolonial Solidarity, with regional coordination by Dr. Jacqui Gingras, from the Toronto Metropolitan University.
The first half of the action was hosted by members of Climate Justice Toronto, as they led chants outside of the RBC location at Yonge and Gerrard, to set the tone for the rest of the demonstration.
The Raging Grannies sang a number of joyful environmental themed songs in front of a crowd of over 50 people, which included members from Seniors for Climate Action Now, and prominent Indigenous land defenders, including Skyler Williams from 1492 Landback Lane, and Indigenous film producer and activist Layla Staats.
The second half of the action was led by activists who took to the street on the courage of Indigenous land defenders and settler allies, blocking the intersection of Yonge and Gerrard for over an hour. Indigenous activists and Socialist Action members spoke to the crowd gathered in the intersection, leading chants, demanding that RBC end it’s pipe-line project on Wet’suwet’en territory.
The national day of demonstration was inspired by a call to action made by the Gidimt’en Checkpoint in Wet’suwet’en territory, alerting allies that the Coastal GasLink gas pipeline was beginning to be drilled under Wedzin Kwa, the river sacred to the Wet’suwet’en people. Gidimt’en Checkpoint called for all settler allies and supporters to take action, starting on November 5th, 2022
The organizers from Gidimt’en Checkpoint and Decolonial Solidarity provided a list of demands to be made in the messaging of each action taking place across the country. Those demands are clear:
- The BC NDP, and the Province of British Columbia must come to the table with the Hereditary Chiefs, and negotiate as previously agreed.
- RCMP must be immediately removed from the Yintah – negotiations can’t be had while looking down the barrel of a gun.
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Chasebank, Citibank and the consortium of banks providing project-critical financing must defund CGL.
- Contractors working on the ground must immediately stop their work.
After taking the intersection for nearly an hour, demonstrators marched from Yonge and Gerrard to the location of another solidarity demonstration taking place at RBC Headquarters at 200 Bay Street, in downtown Toronto.
The cross country demonstrations held on November 5th is a continuation of Indigenous activism that has been taking place across so-called Canada in solidarity with the people of Wet’suwet’en for many years.
In early 2020, Indigenous land defenders blocked key infrastructure throughout the country for months, which ultimately resulted in a memorandum of understanding signed between the Wet’suwet’en people and the Canadian government. However, the MOU did not address the CGL pipeline, and construction was met with opposition from both the Gidimt’en Access Point and Unist’ot’en groups.
In late September of 2022, despite years of public opposition from the Hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en, CGL began drilling under the Wedzin Kwa, which resulted in this urgent call to action to settler allies. The fight continues, as November 5th is just the begging of what should be a new wave of Indigenous protest action across the Canadian state.
Socialist Action will continue to give settler solidarity and support to the Wet’suwet’en people and their right for self-determination, along with all Indigenous people living on Turtle Island.
Socialist Action firmly believes that there can be no reconciliation between the Canadian state and the Indigenous people of Turtle Island without restitution. This includes Land Back, and a seizure of the major resource corporations (such as CGL), and a return of those resources to the Indigenous people of the common lands.
For more information on upcoming actions associated with this cause, please visit Decolonial Solidarity