It’s been over a week since unidentified attackers brutally assaulted Indigenous Secwepemc Land Defenders of the Tiny House Warrior community, dedicated to protecting the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) pipeline and the associated “man camps” that come with the construction. The RCMP Clearwater detachment is investigating, according to media, but there have been no public updates on the investigation to date and no public statements condemning the attack from the relevant authorities.
Kanahus Manuel, a Secwepemc Land Defender and spokesperson for the Tiny House Warriors, was one of the people attacked and has shared the details of the incident with journalists. On the evening of April 19th, three men and a woman drove over the signs and banners that mark the entrance to the Tiny House Warrior camp near Blue River, BC. The three men tore down several red dresses that are symbols of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirited people. They went on to physically attack another Indigenous land defender. One of these attackers also got into a vehicle owned by Kanahus and drove it into her tiny house while she was inside.
This was a violent attack, late at night, in a remote area. Judging from what the attackers said, the Tiny House Warriors were targeted because they were Indigenous and were peacefully asserting their rights to protect their rightful, unceded territory.
Greenpeace Canada supports Amnesty International’s call for authorities to respond decisively to this attack and ensure a full investigation. Amnesty International issued an open letter addressed to BC Premier John Horgan and RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, which further urged them to consider investigating this attack as a hate crime. Public statements must be made that condemn this attack and make clear that targeting Indigenous Land Defenders and human rights activists will not be tolerated. Additional protection measures should also be put in place, as requested by the Tiny House Warriors.
Indigenous Peoples defending their lands and rights too often become the target of racism and violence in Canada. This latest incident makes clear once again that Canadian society and authorities have much more work to do to root out the racism, hatred, and ignorance that leads to violence.
What can we do right now? We can call on the RCMP and BC provincial authorities to publicly condemn these attacks and act to protect the Tiny House Warriors from further attacks.