I can’t breathe

CONTENT WARNING: POLICE VIOLENCE

I first learned about the concepts of #LANDBACK and the work of the Wet’suwet’en peoples’ work to protect their pristine land and water from construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in January 2020. One of the first things I saw was the following video. In it Denzel Sutherland-Wilson talks about land back.

Our culture and our tradition is the land. We are directly connected to the land. It’s our spirituality. We cannot be forced to be away from our land.
Nine days since we took the land back.
It feels like something you don’t normally do. (laughter) Its revolutionary, right?
I don’t think anyone’s ever really evicted like a 6 billion dollar pipeline before.
People get confused about what we want as Native people. Like “what do you want?”

Just like, “land back!”. Don’t need any reconciliation, don’t want money, like I don’t want programs or funding or whatever.
(whispers “land back”)
Funny though, when I said that to my Dad, Wet’suwet’en people, if you tell them about LANDBACK, they’re like “we never lost the land, anyway.” Which is true.
Wet’suwet’en have never given up title to their 22,000 square kilometer territory.
Denzel Sutherland-Wilson

Not long after the video above was taken, Denzel had RCMP snipers pointing guns at him.

[ WARNING: This video contains graphic images of an armed threat on the lives of land defenders Denzel Sutherland-Wilson (Gitxsan) and Anne Spice (Tlingit). It may be traumatic for many to see. But we feel strongly that it should be available to witness. Denzel, Anne, and all the land defenders are now safe. These events took place during the RCMP raid on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory on February 7, 2020. The video was filmed by Gitxsan land defender Denzel Sutherland-Wilson from atop this tower. ]

I am reminded of that today as news continues about the latest Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raids and arrests. In the following video Denzel says “I can’t breathe” as RCMP tackle and arrest him.

Denzel’s brother, Kolin, has also been a leader in the Wet’suwet’en struggles. He was arrested in October.

It is an honor to be here on behalf of the Gitxsan people in support of our brothers and sisters of the Wet’suwet’en people. And I stand here as a diplomatic prisoner of the Gitxsan nation of the Git’luuhl’um’hetxwit  people and I stand fully behind the Likht’samisyu clan government and all those who stand up to support of the traditional laws of the land. Much love to all the people of the world. Thank you again for your support.

See: “I trust you to back up the people who are protecting the land.

Kolin talks about the current situation below.

“Having a relationship with all these things is the basis of us wanting to protect it,” he (Denzel Sutherland-Wilson) says. “We have a relationship with all these plants and species that our ancestors have kept up for thousands of years. And now it’s our responsibility to keep up that relationship.”

He says he’s not completely opposed to logging, and points out old stumps in the bush, explaining his grandfather logged in the area. But there’s a big difference between dragging a few choice trees out of the bush and punching in a road to provide access for heavy machinery, which can clear vast sections of forest in days or weeks. 

“When he’s logging, he always thinks about the future generations and leaves materials for them to create their houses and their cradles and bent boxes. And that’s the opposite of what’s going on.”

Seeing the forest for the trees: searching for solutions in the Kispiox Valley. As the province reviews the timber supply in a northwest B.C. forest district, locals explore options for non-timber forest products and work together to support sustainable forestry opportunities By Matt Simmons (Local Journalism Initiative Reporter), The Narwhal, May 8, 2021.

On the day of the illegal militarized raid on Coyote Camp Dinï ze’ Woos along with media were blocked from accessing unceded Wet’suwet’en land. Meanwhile the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) facilitated unfettered access of the territory to Coastal GasLink.

“From what I understand there’s a military style raid that happened up on the drill pad site and that machine guns and sharp shooters were pointing right at the cabins. This is Giditmten territory.” -Dinï ze’ Woos (Gidimt’en)

This project does not and never will have the consent of our hereditary chiefs. RCMP upholds colonial laws and utterly disregards Wet’suwet’en law. We will uphold Wet’suwet’en law. No pipelines will go through our yintah.

Take Action:
🔥 Issue a solidarity statement from your organization or group.
🔥 Host a solidarity rally or action in your area.
🔥 Pressure the government, banks, and investors. http://yintahaccess.com/take-action-1
🔥 Donate. http://go.rallyup.com/wetsuwetenstrong
🔥 Spread the word.#WetsuwetenStrong #AllOutForWedzinKwa #ShutDownCanada #FreeSleydo #Wetsuweten
More information and developing stories:
Website: Yintahaccess.com
IG: @yintah_access
Twitter: @Gidimten
Facebook: @wetsuwetenstrong
Youtube: Gidimten Access Point
TikTok: GidimtenCheckpoint

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