B.C. failed to consider links between ‘man camps,’ violence against Indigenous women, Wet’suwe’ten argue
A formal request for judicial review submitted with the B.C. Supreme Court argues B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office extended permit for Coastal GasLink pipeline without considering the findings of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women by Carol Linnitt, Feb 8, 2020
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are requesting a judicial review of a decision made by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office to extend the environmental certificate for the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline.
The request, filed Feb. 3, argues an extension should not have been granted in light of more than 50 instances of non-compliance with the conditions of Coastal GasLink permits and in light of the findings of Canada’s National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
The inquiry found there is “substantial evidence” that natural resource projects increase violence against Indigenous women and children and two-spirit individuals.
A final report released from the National Inquiry Committee in June found “work camps, or ‘man camps,’ associated with the resource extraction industry are implicated in higher rates of violence against Indigenous women at the camps and in the neighbouring communities.”
“Increased crime levels, including drug- and alcohol-related offences, sexual offences, and domestic and ‘gang’ violence, have been linked to ‘boom town’ and other resource development contexts. … There is an urgent need to consider the safety of Indigenous women consistently in all stages of project planning,” the report states.
Concerns about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls are on visible display at the Unist’ot’en camp, located along the intended route of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, where for the past months red dresses — symbols of the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women and girls — hang on signposts or dangle in the air from lines of suspended wire.
Karla Tait, psychologist and director of clinical services at the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, said the idea came about when the Wet’suwet’en learned of a proposed 400-person worker camp planned for just 13 kilometres from the healing centre.
“We put a call out for red dresses to be sent here, inviting anyone to send red dresses in honour of any missing and murdered Indigenous women in their lives and to help us raise awareness and visibility as Coastal GasLink workers were traveling into our territory and doing pre-construction work,” Tait, who is a Unist’ot’en house member, told The Narwhal.
red dress Wet'suwet'en
Red dresses, signifying missing and murdered Indigenous women, hang near Unist’ot’en camp in Wet’suwet’en territory. Photo: Amber Bracken / The Narwhal
The RCMP are currently enforcing a court injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en and supporters occupying cultural camps in areas of Wet’suwet’en traditional territory that prevent work along the Coastal GasLink pipeline route. Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, representing all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en nation, argue the pipeline was permitted without their consent as legal custodians of the nation’s territory under Wet’suwet’en law and as recognized by Canada’s Supreme Court in a 1997 ruling known as the Delgamuukw decision.
Chiefs issued an eviction notice to Coastal GasLink workers in early January and after weeks of tense waiting, RCMP began arresting individuals within a designated exclusion zone, which extends from an RCMP checkpoint to beyond the Unist’ot’en camp, on Feb. 6.
Huson Tait Unist'ot'en
Freda Huson, left, her sister Brenda Michell, centre, and her niece Karla Tait, right, head inside after offering songs and prayer outside the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre on Thursday. ...