Understanding Conflicting Legal Traditions
The Wet'suwet'en Land Struggle and Resolving Land Claims on Unceded Territory
This paper examines the recent tensions in Wet’suwet’en territory as an extension of the ongoing conflict between Indigenous land defenders and state security actors over the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia. More specifically, it brings into view the ways in which Canadian law is weaponized against Indigenous communities in denying their inherent rights on unceded territory, and criminalizing resistance efforts. By using critical legal theory and principles of Indigenous legal tradition, it evaluates the history of Indigenous rights cases brought to Canada’s Supreme Court and differing regimes of consent. Further, this paper suggests alternative legal frameworks that could be used to legitimate Indigenous land reclamation rights in Canada to ensure land restitution. I argue that the settler-state imposition of energy infrastructure on unceded land is not only a violation of Indigenous sovereignty and inherent rights, but also, a testament to the incompatibility of state priorities and Indigenous communities’ right to land and life.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Abigail Isaac
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