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Canada's bid for UN Security Council seat connected to Indigenous land defence struggle

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Land defender Freda Huson. Image: Unist'ot'en Camp/Video Screenshot/YouTube

"Everybody needs to stand up, not just Indigenous people. Everybody needs to stand up to the political powers that be that they need to change ... The whole world is watching what Canada is doing." -- Freda Huson

With a key United Nations vote on the Trudeau government's bid for a seat on the Security Council coming this June 17, it really is worth watching Invasion.

The documentary powerfully tells the story of Wet'suwet'en land and water defenders resisting a megaproject on their unceded territory in British Columbia.

It includes footage of the RCMP raid on Wet'suwet'en territory that took place on January 7, 2019. It also includes a clip of defender Freda Huson movingly addressing the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on April 24, 2019.

Months after her intervention, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Canada to immediately halt construction on the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on the lands and territories of the Wet'suwet'en peoples given it lacks their UN-recognized right to free, prior and informed consent.

It further urged that "the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and associated security and policing services ... be withdrawn from their traditional lands."

That resolution was passed by the UN committee on December 13, 2019.

And yet by January 13 of this year, the RCMP had set up an exclusion zone on Wet'suwet'en traditional lands, and on February 6 launched a second militarized raid on the territory to facilitate the construction of the pipeline.

And just recently, on April 28, Export Development Canada, the Canadian government's export credit agency, approved a loan of up to $500 million to TC Energy, the company building the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet'suwet'en territory.

That is arguably in contravention of the UN's Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights that says states should take steps to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises that receive support from export credit agencies.

On May 5, the CBC reported that Canada is "doubling down on its bid for a seat" on the UN Security Council that has already "set the government back $2 million." It's clear that the Trudeau government wants to win that seat on June 17.

Peace Brigades International-Canada has posted this online URGENT ACTION petition to enable people to send an email to the prime minister that calls on him to act in accordance with the UN committee's resolution before the UN vote.

As the Trudeau government steps up its efforts to win the Security Council seat, there's an opportune moment to highlight this resolution.

Pam Palmater, a Mi'kmaw citizen, lawyer and professor, has argued, "Canada does not deserve a seat at the UN Security Council unless and until they address peace and security in their own country."

The coming weeks are a pivotal time for all of us to hear that and raise our voices on peace, security and fundamental human rights.

Brent Patterson is the executive director of Peace Brigades International-Canada. You can follow him at @CBrentPatterson @PBIcanada on Twitter.

Image: Unist'ot'en Camp/Video Screenshot/YouTube

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