In this guest post, lawyer Noah Ross discusses his experience offering legal observer training in Wet’suwet’en territory.
By Caitlyn Vernon, Campaigns Director
February 28, 2020
In response to the Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions, Indigenous people have been violently assaulted and are experiencing an increase in hate speech. Online threats are escalating.
If you are like me – I’m white, I don’t face day-to-day racism in my life – this is a lot to process.
People we know, love and respect are being threatened and hurt.
Non-Indigenous people who are feeling angry, defensive and inconvenienced by the Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions are taking it out on marginalized communities. Women, 2SLGBTQQIA and non-binary people, particularly Indigenous people, are being targeted.
None of this is okay.
We are being called upon to help stop the racism, now.
- Educate yourself about the moment we are in and the colonial history that got us here, so that our conversations can help build compassion and understanding and minimize the potential for violent and inappropriate reactions.
- If you see something, say something. Intervene when you see racist actions or statements, in person and online. (Unlike what happened to a woman who was verbally attacked with hate speech on a bus in Winnipeg and nobody backed her up.) Get more info on what resources are available for people who have experienced a hate crime.
- Show up as a peaceful, anti-racist witness, in solidarity with the land and water protectors who are calling for Indigenous governance authority to be respected. Your presence will help keep Indigenous people safe. For those in Victoria, the Indigenous Youth for Yintah are calling on supporters to join for an Action Against Violence and Oppression at 10 am on Saturday at the Legislature, in response to threats of violence and ‘counter’ protests from white supremacy groups.
What might feel like an inconvenience for some pales drastically in comparison to the injustice that Indigenous peoples have experienced in having their land occupied and their children taken away, from the beginning of colonization to the present day. Reading up on this can help you have conversations with people in your life. You can read our solidarity statement here, explaining how Canadian law has recognized the authority of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. And then show up, when your support is requested.
Learning new ways to be in more respectful relation with the earth also requires us to be in more respectful relation with one another. These things are connected.
It’s on all of us to be anti-racist allies.
If not us, then who?
Thank you for showing up.
Featured image by Mya Van Woudenberg/Sierra Club BC
Sierra Club BC’s statement of solidarity. We stand behind Indigenous jurisdiction and the right to free, prior and informed consent.