Members of Arcade Fire, Arkells, July Talk, and Billy Talent are just a small portion of the musicians standing in solidarity with First Nations people from the Unist’ot’en clan, who are trying to defend their land from the upcoming Costal GasLink pipeline project in Northern B.C.
Coastal GasLink’s pipeline project is intended to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) to global markets off the west coast. Because B.C. has an abundance of natural resources, it’s expected to provide continuous economic opportunities province-wide.
The proposed 670-km pipeline project will run west through Dawson Creek, all the way to a $40-billion LNG processing facility near Kitimat.
Along its route, the pipeline will cross the land of the Wet’suwet’en territory, which is now an issue for the “land defenders” of Wet’suwet’en — the Unist’ot’en camp. It is their job to protect their land and people of other Wet’suwet’en clans from any supposed threat.
A ‘Musicians in Solidarity‘ document addressed to the Unist’ot’en people was made public on Jan. 21. It included more than 150 signatures from people in the Canadian music industry.
The open letter encouraged fellow Canadians and musicians to sign the letter to “amplify” the protest against the Coastal GasLink.
Fourteen protesters were held at gunpoint and arrested after setting up a blockade at the Coastal GasLink site on Jan. 7.
Coastal GasLink revealed it had signed agreements with all of the elected First Nations bands along the proposed pipeline route. However, five of the hereditary clan chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en nation have protested, saying their consent is required.
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Justin Trudeau was further called out on what were decried as false promises to build “meaningful nation-to-nation relationships.” The prime minister spoke to a number of angry Wet’suwet’en people during a cross-country town hall tour.
In response to the violence that took place in early January, Trudeau admitted that the situation “wasn’t ideal” but said that despite being the federal leader of Canada, he had no say in the matter considering we are “a country of the rule of law.”
The 47-year-old is being harshly criticized by First Nations people across Canada after making campaign promises to bridge the gap between Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous Canadians and not living up to them.
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The musicians’ letter of protest included a link to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, stating that the construction of the pipeline project without Wet’suwet’en peoples’ consent violates the U.N. document.
“We watched infuriated as a militarized RCMP forced the removal of 14 land protectors from Wet’suwet’en territory at gunpoint,” the letter added. “We have heard your hereditary chiefs say ‘no’ to the Coastal Gaslink development and we intend to amplify it.”
“Meaningful nation-to-nation relationships are not made at gunpoint,” it concluded.
Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, is also one of the many musicians to have signed the open letter.
Artists are continuing to stand with the Unist’ot’en camp. Since Monday evening, many more Canadians have agreed to sign the letter. More than 400 individuals have signed so far.