Tânisi, Brendan Campbell nitisiyihkâson. Oksana kâ-asastêkihk êkwa saskwatônihk niki-nihta-wîkin êwka niki-pê-ohpikin. Nêhiyaw êkwa Métis êkwa pîtâtowêw ôma niya.
Greetings. My name is Brendan Campbell. I was born and raised in Regina and Saskatoon. I am of Cree, Métis, and European ancestry.
I want to begin with the following declaration: namôya môniyâw niya. I am not Canadian. I am nêhiyaw, Métis, and pîtâtowêw. I am from Treaties 4 and 6 territories. The nêhiyawak and Métis form my national identities, although they, like the multitude of Sovereign Indigenous Nations that exist in what we call “Canada,” have been intentionally attacked by over a hundred and fifty years of assimilative policies, and unfortunately are not recognized as Nations in the same right as “Canada” in these spaces. Treaties 4 and 6 form my relationship with settlers, although they have been systematically undermined and ignored immediately after their signing.
I attend COP 24 recognizing these responsibilities to my homelands and ancestors. However, I also attend this COP as oskinîkiw, or as youth, with the Canadian Youth Delegation. It is with my friends and co-delegates, Tina Oh and Maya Menezes, that I centre the work of my people and other frontline communities that are navigating Canada’s colonial and extractive policies. It is their ancestral and lived truths that remind me that extraction is not only from the land, and that we are all embedded in this global system that values individuals only for the profit they can generate. It is for this reason that I take this moment to amplify their work:
As oskinîkiw (or youth), I stand with the Canadian Union for Postal Workers and other workers’ unions back home who are doing the work of protecting our rights in this neoliberal capitalist world.
As nêhiyaw and Métis, I also stand with newcomers who seek new homes upon my ancestral lands of the northern prairies of Turtle Island.
As an indigenous youth in this space, I constantly think of indigenous youth back home or from all other territories currently occupied by the settler-colonial nation-state that we call “Canada.” I think of land defenders and water protectors in what we call “British Columbia” or northern “Alberta” who are at the frontlines protecting our collective access to healthy lands and water. I think of the court cases against the Indigenous Peoples doing this work.
Today, as the Unis’tot’en Camp faces Coastal GasLink in the Supreme Court at Prince George, over 60 organizations and 3,200 individuals, including the Canadian Youth Delegation, are demanding that Coastal GasLink, RCMP, and Federal and Provincial governments take no actions in violation of Wet’suwet’en collective title and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
On November 27, Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. served notice for a civil lawsuit, claiming financial damages for “occupying, obstructing, blocking, physically impeding or delaying access” and applied for an injunction against the Unist’ot’en Camp.
The Canadian Youth Delegation reaffirms that WE ARE WATCHING the setter-colonial government of “Canada” in their actions upon the Wet’suwet’en.
We DENOUNCE any attempt by Coastal GasLink Pipeline, federal government, provincial government or RCMP to interfere in the rights of the Unist’ot’en to occupy, manage or maintain their Lands.
We DEMAND that any and all actions taken by the federal and provincial government, industry, and policing agencies must be consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Wet’suwet’en laws and collective Title.
On behalf of the Canadian Youth Delegation, I send my love and support to the Unist’ot’en Camp. In this neoliberal extractive era in which we all struggle, I say: kitatamihinâwâw, which means “I express my gratitude, for what you do brings us honour.”
For the rest of us who have yet to pick up this work, I ask the following questions: What kind of world do you want to leave behind for future generations? What kind of ancestors do you want to be?