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President Thomas’s letter to the BC Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation


Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU, sent the following letter to the Honourable Scott Fraser, BC Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, regarding the intervention of the RCMP against the Wet’suwet’en people as they protested the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline.

February 8, 2019

The Honourable Scott Fraser
Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
Room 323, Parliament Buildings
Victoria BC  V8V 1X4

Dear Minister:

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union condemns the RCMP’s removal of Unist’ot’en protesters on Wet’suwet’en territory last month.

The decision to arrest 14 people and remove others from the Unist’ot’en Camp suppressed the rights of peaceful protesters. OPSEU stands in solidarity with the Indigenous reoccupation of unceded Wet’suwet’en lands in northern British Columbia against Coastal Gaslink Pipeline.

The Wet’suwet’en people have inherent Indigenous rights and title that must be recognized and respected. Each clan within the Wet’suwet’en Nation has full jurisdiction under their law to control access to their territory.

I urge you to work with the RCMP, Coastal Gaslink, and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leadership and elected council to resolve this dispute. What happens at the Unist’ot’en camp could have lasting repercussions for generations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on Turtle Island.

I call upon you and your Cabinet colleagues to respect Indigenous title and immediately revoke all permits for development.

Further, I have copied your federal counterparts asking that the Government of Canada pull funding from the single-largest private investment in Canadian history and, instead, respect a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples and real action on climate change.

As you may know, OPSEU represents 155,000 public service employees and we have many Indigenous members who are closely watching what is happening on Wet’suwet’en territory.


Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President of OPSEU

c: The Honourable Jane Philpott
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Brenda Lucki, Commissioner, RCMP
Russ Girling, President and CEO, TransCanada Corporation
Krista Maracle, Chair, OPSEU Indigenous Circle