From Wet’suwet’en Country to Toronto
Indigenous people sacrifice to struggle for life and land, demand accountability from environmental groups. This first appeared on the website the Vancouver Media Co-op, a project of the The Dominion News Cooperative.
Instead of taking his one year old son fishing and berry picking this weekend, Mel Bazil has come to Toronto to join the rising chorus of dissent against the G20.
“I’m spending time away from my laws, opposing this,” said Bazil, a member of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. “I shouldn’t have to be here.”
Bazil and his people are fighting to uphold their laws and keep their lands free from a series of proposed oil pipelines, which would carry tar sands crude to the B.C. coast. Wet’suwet’en lands, which were never ceded to the British or to the Canadian government, span 22,000 square kilometers in central British Columbia.
Today, Bazil joined with hundreds of people as they took a “Toxic Tour” through the streets of Toronto. Led by grassroots organizers, marchers joined to demand an end to false solutions to the climate and environmental crises.
Notably absent from the rally was Greenpeace, which has come under fire for the recently announced Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Negotiated in secret, the agreement between nine environmental organizations and 21 forestry companies, the CBFA has added another burden on Indigenous people who are organizing to defend their land.
“Why is the onus on our communities to catch up?” asked Bazil, as the march paused in front of the Royal Bank of Canada. “We have to know so much about pipelines, we have to know about the mining, and all of a sudden we have to catch up with the NGOs,” he said.
Some of the parties to the deal, like Forest Ethics, had already lost trust in Wet’suwet’en country, says Bazil, but for Greenpeace to be involved in the CBFA presents a blow to on the ground organizing.
Bazil had been involved in organizing against the proposed pipelines with members of Greenpeace, but he says the CBFA has created a rift in that organizing. “This top down approach is messing with a lot of people, not just us as Indigenous peoples, but the Greenpeace workers, the grassroots ground staff, the foot soldiers,” he said.
“We want them there, we want them to fly their flags at our events… But this top down approach, making agreements with forestry companies… It’s a farce, it’s a danger,” he said.