Four months ago I published an editorial pointing out the blatant double standards we’ve seen in policing protests in Canada and the United States. The editorial concluded any future heavy-handed treatment of Indigenous land defenders by RCMP officers would be forever weighed against how police dealt with armed protesters at border crossings and noise terrorists in Ottawa.

Obviously whoever makes the decisions for the RCMP in B.C. didn’t read that editorial, as on March 29, 2023 over a dozen RCMP officers raided Wet’suwet’en territory, arresting five people.

This is a blatant display of colonialism and a complete slap in the face of truth and reconciliation. If the RCMP has any relevance in modern Canada at all, it will withdraw its forces from Wet’suwet’en territory and issue an apology to the First Nation as soon as logistically possible.

To do otherwise will basically affirm everything Indigenous voices have been trying to tell us for decades on just how much racism they experience on a daily basis from colonists.

Let us recall how white police officers allowed white protesters to occupy major economic corridors for weeks on end. Let us recall how they allowed protesters to dress up statues of national heroes and blare their horns for 24 hours a day, harassing residents about mask use and preventing people living in the area from getting the basic need of sleep. Only after the prime minister finally stepped in did police actually do their jobs.

Absolutely none of that was happening in Wet’suwet’en. Regardless of whether the anti-mask protests of 2022 were justified, you cannot say the Wet’suwet’en are fighting for anything less than their basic human rights guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Yet police seem content to continue arresting Indigenous protesters making far less of a scene than white ones without any prompting from the federal government.

You can’t get more obvious of a double standard than this. It’s clear there are currently two justice systems in Canada — one for Indigenous people and their allies, and one for colonists.

When former prime minister John A. MacDonald created the North West Mounted Police in 1873, he did so with the expressed intent to bully Canada’s Indigenous people into submission or extinction. In the same stroke he created the Residential School System, where his vision of an Indigenous-free Canada was thrust upon anyone unfortunate enough to stand in his way.

Two and a half centuries later, we are only beginning to come to terms with that genocide. Yet for reasons known only to them, B.C. RCMP continue to fight MacDonald’s war in Wet’suwet’en, long after the rest of us concluded we were being evil. These arrests undermine good work RCMP officers do here in Inuvik and elsewhere to repair the centuries of betrayal.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to do something. If the RCMP is not prepared to stop its colonial war on First Nations in Wet’suwet’en and across Canada, then we are in our rights to ask if it still has a place in Canadian society.

If the RCMP cannot shake this double standard in policing, perhaps it’s time to dissolve and replace it with a modern police force, built specifically with Truth and Reconciliation in mind.

Because so long as people in Wet’suwet’en have to fear the police, what does truth and reconciliation actually mean?

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Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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  1. Clearly a liberal supporter. If the author had a decent amount of knowledge he would understand the rcmp take orders from the government, hence the continued “attacks” on the group. Businesses get order from courts (liberal government) and they have to act. This is an attempt to incite hatred toward the rcmp over following courts (governed by Trudeau) orders.