Stop Paying Lip Service

This is the transcript of a speech that we made during the Vancouver student walkout in support of the Wet’suwet’en Indigenous people. For more information, and to donate to their court fund, click here.


Thank you so much for coming!

We just want to begin by acknowledging that we are on the traditional, unceded, and stolen territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ Tsleil-Waututh Coast Salish people.

To preface this, we will receive reactions from others for being out here today in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people. The concept of allyship is one that many people in our communities at school, at home, and around the city don’t understand. As a reminder of why we are here … we are here because the voices of Indigenous groups in Canada are once again being devalued, and ignored. We have the capacity to amplify their voices in advocating for the preservation of their wrongfully taken land, and the dismantling of colonial and systemic injustice. Because of this, it’s our responsibility to continually think about whether an Indigenous voice would be more valuable in this call for action—and if so, to stop speaking, and listen.

This issue goes beyond the political, or the environmental, or the economic. It’s yet another concrete example of the words of our governing bodies not reflecting their actions—truth and reconciliation can be thrown around a million times a year, and yet we don’t see any work being done. People in power are refusing to accept that we profit off of our colonial past. Instead, Indigenous communities are overlooked as always, and we are comfortably allowing this to happen.

The premier himself declared that “if we deny that [governmental relationships with Indigenous peoples are] a problem, we won’t resolve it”, yet he was “confident” that there would be a “peaceful resolution” to the standoff at the Gidimt’en checkpoint (Globe and Mail, CBC). This completely undermines what the Wet’suwet’en people aimed to achieve. At the same time, the RCMP’s potential forcible removal of the Wet’suwet’en people violates the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which both the provincial and federal governments committed to implementing in the summer of 2017.

The Unist’ot’en campaign was created to provide healing for Indigenous peoples. A government that claims to prioritize this same healing, and then invades the area and causes irreparable damage is unacceptable. To quote the Unist’ot’en Camp website: “This fight is far from over.” We will not be satisfied with politicians paying lip service by preaching Truth and Reconciliation, while harming Indigenous communities and our future.

“B.C. premier ‘confident’ for peaceful resolution after arrests at Gidimt’en camp checkpoint.” CBC.ca, 9 Jan.

2019. Web. www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-premier-speaks-to-media-about-arrests-

at-gidimt-en-camp-1.4971774

Hunter, Justine. “Horgan’s acknowledgement of unceded Indigenous territory a milestone for B.C.” The

Globe and Mail, 22 Oct. 2017. Web. www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/horgans-

acknowledgment-of-bcs-unceded-territory-part-of-a-path-forward/article36686705.