Canadian doctors express solidarity with Wet’suwet’en; concern for the impacts of restricted access and arrests on health

Vancouver, November 19, 2021 – The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) expresses our alignment with the November 17, 2021, statement of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs calling for an end to violence against Wet’suwet’en people and their allies in Wet’suwet’en territory and peaceful evacuation of Coastal GasLink.

As has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, and in alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the principles of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, Rights and Title to Wet’suwet’en lands have never been ceded.

Preventing Indigenous peoples from accessing their own lands is in itself an act of violence. As an organization of physicians, we assert that access to medicine and warmth is essential for health and must not be restricted. We are also concerned about the mental health and potential trauma of land defenders met with police restrictions and arrest while engaged in protection of their own lands.

“It is disturbing to watch the governments of British Columbia and Canada promise to do everything they can to support stranded drivers and people whose neighbourhoods have turned into lakes while simultaneously allowing the RCMP to block access to Wet’suwet’en territories by Wet’suwet’en people and arrest land defenders,” says Dr. Larry Barzelai of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. “We call on Premier Horgan and Prime Minister Trudeau to immediately intervene to end these actions that are restricting access to medication and causing harm to health.”


For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Dr. Larry Barzelai, Chair of CAPE BC and member of CAPE Board of Directors