In Canada, Infrastructure Projects Are Endangering Indigenous Women and Children

In Canada, Infrastructure Projects Are Endangering Indigenous Women and Children
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline, take part in a rally in Smithers, British Columbia, Jan. 10, 2020 (Photo by Jason Franson for The Canadian Press via AP Images).

MONTREAL—On Feb. 10, Karla Tait was arrested in northern British Columbia while participating in a ceremony along the path of a multi-billion-dollar pipeline project to honor missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police accused Tait and other members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation of violating an injunction preventing them from blocking construction on the Coastal GasLink pipeline. The project passes through an area where members of the Unist’ot’en clan, a sub-group of the Wet’suwet’en peoples, have set up a traditional healing center and camp to reclaim their ancestral lands and protest the pipeline’s construction.

The road traversed by RCMP officers as they moved in on the camp was lined with red dresses that symbolize the many indigenous women and girls who are believed to have been murdered in Canada over the past few decades. A 2014 RCMP report documented 1,181 cases of indigenous women being murdered or going missing between 1980 and 2012, though indigenous advocates say that number is likely an underestimate.

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