Unist’ot’en camp next in line as RCMP injunction enforcement continues

(A parked RCMP vehicle in Smithers, B.C. Photo: APTN file)

APTN News
The Unist’ot’en camp may be next as the RCMP enforces an injunction against Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters on the Morice West Forest Service Road in British Columbia.

Twenty-one people have been arrested at the time of writing.

“6 persons were arrested on Thursday morning. These persons were arrested at the 39.5 km mark all have been released from custody, without charges or conditions. 4 more persons were arrested at the 44km mark on Friday, and 11 were arrested on Saturday after the exclusion zone had been pushed back to the 4km mark after blockades and items placed on the road damaging police vehicle tires,” Cpl. Chris Manseau, an RCMP communications officer, explained by email.

Federal police spent the last four days moving down the road arresting people and dismantling obstructions at the 27, 39, and 44 kilometre points on the road so Coastal GasLink (CGL) can build a $6.6-billion liquid natural gas pipeline through the territory.

The completed project would carry fracked natural gas to Kitimat on the coast, where it would be exported to markets in Asia.

Hereditary chiefs representing the five Wet’suwet’en clans oppose the project, but all elected Indian Act governments have signed agreements that express support.

The next site on the RCMP’s path is the Unist’ot’en camp at the 66 kilometre mark.

On his way to the four kilometre mark, Hereditary Chief Smogelgem, also known Warner Naziel, discussed the raids.

“There was a lot of violence that happened on our front lines, violence that came from the state. Our people have been peaceful the entire time,” he said.

On Sunday, the camp reported officers and industry approaching as well as a helicopter flying over at 11:00 am PST.

Unist’ot’en Camp@UnistotenCamp

We have reports of a large convoy of RCMP and industry working up the road from @Gidimten toward . 2 bulldozers, 1 plow, 2 large cats, 1 large white RV, 1 ambulance, 7 pickups.

Manseau said another press release was coming, but this was not received by publication time.

On Saturday, Unist’ot’en camp released a statement on Facebook calling for the RCMP not to evict people from the healing centre, which is a main component of the camp.

“Even under colonial law, the RCMP cannot enter or search our Healing Centre without a warrant,” the statement said.

“People living and receiving treatment there are not in violation of CGL’s injunction, nor is the Healing Centre itself in violation of the injunction. The Healing Centre exists to support the self-determination and healing of our people and is unrelated to CGL’s work and the injunction.”

In a Saturday update, police said officers arrived at Unist’ot’en by “alternative means of travel” because support beams on the Lamprey Creek Bridge “appear to have been cut.”

Police said they are launching a criminal investigation into the matter. APTN is unable to independently verify the damage to the bridge.

The RCMP said officers were at the camp to “facilitate conversation,” but left an hour later after this was unsuccessful.

Watch: those who were arrested speak out

Freedom of the press

Due to an exclusion zone established at the 27 kilometre mark, few media are present to document the enforcement. Harsh criticism ensued when reports emerged that police threatened to arrest journalists observing the raid.

Journalists were not arrested. They were detained, forced to relocate against their will, and prevented from documenting police conduct.

“Throughout the enforcement of CGL’s injunction, media and legal observers were illegally corralled and threatened with detention and arrest for doing their jobs,” said Unist’ot’en camp in the release.

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) issued a statement calling on media to “continue to document police interference and misuses of power, including noting names and badge numbers.”

“Yesterday the RCMP promised to respect media rights, but today they continue to abuse their powers and blatantly disregard the law in a way that is previously unheard of in Canada and unthinkable in a democratic country,” said president Karyn Pugliese in the Saturday release.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association said it too was “alarmed.”

“We emphasize that even in areas where injunctions are being enforced, the courts have upheld the constitutionally-protected freedom of the press” the organization said in an open letter Thursday.

Unist’ot’en camp’s statement also criticized “use of excessive force by the RCMP, including the unnecessary use of heavily armed tactical teams deployed by helicopters to surround Gidimt’en camp at 44 km, use of snipers, and deployment of K9 units.”

RCMP’s account differs. Police said that, despite the large deployment of officers, “a minimal amount of force was required to support the arrests or removal of individuals from within the exclusion zone.”

APTN asked Manseau to comment on this discrepancy, but he did not respond.

‘Not a protest or demonstration’

On its website, Unist’ot’en camp says it’s “not a protest or demonstration,” but rather a reoccupation of traditional Wet’suwet’en territory.

It claims to be an assertion of “jurisdiction and our inherent right to both give and refuse consent” under precolonial governance systems.

These traditional systems are complex.

The Wet’suwet’en Nation consists of five clans and 13 house groups. There are six Indian Act bands, five of which have signed on to the pipeline.

The feast hall, or potlatch, is the primary institution of governance. It’s where decisions are made and the investiture of hereditary titles takes place.

Under the traditional system, certain hereditary titles confer exclusive territorial rights to the title holder, according to anthropologist Antonia Mills.

Mills was hired by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in the late nineties to study their traditions and offer expert testimony as part of the case commonly called Delgamuukw.

She argued that some titles are over 5,000 years old.

For instance, Goolaht is “among the world’s oldest recorded continuously held titles to confer exclusive property rights,” she wrote.

Read more:

RCMP move in on Wet’suwet’en territory in early morning raid

‘We’ve got a real divide in the community:’ Wet’suwet’en Nation in turmoil

The Delgamuukw case concerned the question of Aboriginal title.

However, B.C. Supreme Court rejected Mills’s evidence and the evidence of Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan chiefs.

In 1991, Judge Allan McEachern ruled Aboriginal title had been extinguished.

The Supreme Court of Canada disagreed. The high court said that Aboriginal title is an ancestral right protected under Section 35(1) of the Constitution. However, a new trial was ordered. It never took place.

Wet’suwet’en have never signed a treaty or ceded their territory to the Crown.

The hereditary chiefs say, under Wet’suwet’en traditional law, the pipeline requires their permission, which they have no plans to grant.

This has created division within the Wet’suwet’en Nation, since five elected governments have signed benefit agreements supporting the project.

APTN has spoken with community members who support the project because of the economic benefits it promises, though the numbers for and against the pipeline are not altogether clear.

When Justice Marguerite Church granted the injunction, she said that even if Wet’suwet’en law did impact Canadian law, it wasn’t clear to her if Wet’suwet’en law had been followed or not.

 

RCMP arrest 11 more pipeline opponents on third day of Wet’suwet’en raids

An RCMP officer peers through a gate at Unist’ot’en Camp in Wet’suwet’en territory on Feb. 8, 2020. Photo by Michael Toledano

Using an ever-changing set of rules, RCMP in British Columbia arrested 11 opponents of the Coastal GasLink pipeline Saturday, the third day of raids on Wet’suwet’en Nation territory.

RCMP also continued to obstruct journalists on the remote forest road in northern B.C. where the conflict is playing out, drawing international criticism. A spokesperson for one of the nation’s five clans, Molly Wickham of Gidimt’en, said the police broke a promise not to make more arrests until after a meeting with the nation’s hereditary chiefs.

“The RCMP have come in with their guns,” said Wickham, also known as Sleydo. “They’re doing this all while we are waiting… to talk to the RCMP.”

Police are enforcing a court injunction to force the Wet’suwet’en and their supporters out of the path of the pipeline, which is planned to run through the nation’s unceded territory even though Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs haven’t consented. The tiny community has built four camps along the Morice West Forest Service Road, about 1,200 kilometres from Vancouver, as they reoccupy their unceded territory and oppose Coastal GasLink.

The raids began Thursday. With Saturday’s total included, police have made 21 arrests over three days, also temporarily detaining two journalists on Thursday and one journalist on Friday.

Saturday’s raid happened at the first camp along the road, a gathering place for supporters which is located at the 27-kilometre mark of the snowy road.

Originally, the RCMP said people were welcome to gather there, as it was outside the zone affected by the court injunction. But police extended the restricted area ⁠— known as an exclusion zone ⁠⁠— to include the 27-kilometre camp late Friday. It happened after Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters used their vehicles to block RCMP officers from leaving the area to process four pipeline opponents who were arrested that day.

In a statement, the RCMP said commanders decided to expand the exclusion zone because metal spikes on the road made several police vehicles “inoperative.”

Police were eventually able to clear the vehicles and asked everyone at the 27-kilometre camp to leave. “People can’t leave because police towed their vehicles away,” said a statement from Unist’ot’en Camp, the settlement furthest along the forest road.

Eventually, Sleydo said in a live video posted to Facebook, police agreed to meet with the hereditary chiefs at 10 a.m. and not arrest anyone at the camp until 11 a.m. But the RCMP didn’t show ⁠— instead, she added, officers surrounded the camps and made arrests at about 1:30 p.m. and blocked the chiefs from going past the four-kilometre checkpoint.

RCMP arrested 11 people as the conflict over the Coastal GasLink pipeline stretched into its third day. Meanwhile, the RCMP drew international condemnation for repeatedly violating freedom of the press. #bcpoli

In the live video, two RCMP officers from a specialized liaison team can be seen approaching a vehicle where hereditary chiefs and Wet’suwet’en supporters are assembled.

“We’re supposed to be meeting before anything happens at 27,” Sleydo says to a male officer.

“People there have been asked to leave,” says the officer, adding that he needs to get up to the camp.

“Why?” asks Sleydo. The officer walks away without answering the question, and both liaison officers hop into an RCMP truck and drive away.

Several people were also allowed to leave the camp voluntarily. They declined rides from police, choosing to walk to the four-kilometre checkpoint. Others were arrested after they barricaded themselves inside a cabin.

Earlier in the day, at about 11:20 a.m. Pacific time, officers used helicopters to get over Wet’suwet’en barriers and approach the gates of Unist’ot’en Camp. Unist’ot’en is the largest and oldest camp, home to a $2-million healing centre.

“Unist’ot’en matriarchs and indigenous supporters went into ceremony and refused to speak to police,” read a statement from the camp. As they burned the injunction, a traditional funeral pyre was lit with a homemade flag on top reading, ‘Reconciliation is Dead.’”

The RCMP left the area in their helicopters just after noon, Unist’ot’en reported.

Unist’ot’en Camp@UnistotenCamp

Feb 8, 2020, RCMP officers landed at @UnistotenCamp by helicopter. Chiefs, house members called on ancestors & held cremation ceremony for Canadian/Indigenous . Copy of CGL injunction burned. After 30 mins, RCMP left.

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RCMP under fire for blocking freedom of the press

RCMP temporarily blocked reporters from getting through the four-kilometre mark, despite a statement to the contrary on Friday night. After waiting for an hour and a half, CBC reporter Chantelle Bellrichard said on Twitter that she had been allowed in, only to have RCMP hold her back and block her view of arrests at 27-kilometre.

“Increasingly frustrating to do our job on the ground and have never had to argue for press freedoms so strenuously,” Bellrichard tweeted.

RCMP have repeatedly impeded reporters on the road. In a statement Saturday, the online media outlet Ricochet said its journalist on the ground, Jerome Turner, was “continuously” detained during an RCMP raid on the Gidimt’en Checkpoint Friday, at the 44-kilometre mark of the road.

Police detained Turner in a ditch 60 feet from where officers were arresting people, Ricochet said.

“This ditch was in a location where Turner could not connect to the internet, and he was not allowed to get to a location where he could get a signal and send updates to his editors,” the statement said.

“As a result, he was out of contact for eight hours yesterday, with his editors unsure of his status or safety.”

Later, Turner agreed to leave. But RCMP detained him again and prevented him from going to the blockade at the 27-kilometre camp, only releasing him after the vehicles in the road had been towed.

Earlier, on Thursday, journalists were told they’d be arrested if they recorded tactical officers holding guns or officers smashing a truck window to make an arrest, tweeted Jesse Winter, a reporter on assignment for Vice.

The continuous infringements on press freedom have been condemned by the international Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, the Canadian Association of Journalists, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and Amnesty International.

The RCMP have declined to provide a map showing what’s inside the exclusion zone. Though the RCMP previously said any journalists in the area would be arrested, the force walked that statement back Friday following condemnation from the Canadian Association of Journalists and others.


Matriarchs and supporters at Unist’ot’en Camp burned a copy of a court injunction meant to clear them out of their traditional territory on Feb. 8, 2020. Photo by Michael Toledano

Coastal GasLink, explained

The controversial Coastal GasLink pipeline is owned by TC Energy, a Calgary-based energy company formerly known as TransCanada Corp. If built, the 670-kilometre pipeline would cut through Wet’suwet’en territory to bring natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the proposed LNG Canada facility in Kitimat, B.C., for processing and export.

Under Wet’suwet’en law, hereditary chiefs from five clans have authority over the nation’s 22,000 square kilometres of unceded territory. The hereditary chiefs have repeatedly opposed Coastal GasLink.

But TC Energy touts agreements it’s made with elected Wet’suwet’en band councils, which were created under Canada’s colonial Indian Act. The elected councils have jurisdiction over reserve lands but not the area adjacent to the pipeline.

The hereditary chiefs’ land claim is backed by a 1997 Supreme Court of Canada decision. But a second trial ordered by the court hasn’t yet happened and many aspects of the dispute are still unresolved.

Last year, RCMP enforcing an earlier court injunction violently arrested 14 people at the Gidimt’en Checkpoint. Documents later revealed by the Guardian showed that officers had been prepared to use lethal force.

In the aftermath of that raid, the hereditary chiefs said they were concerned about safety and agreed to allow GasLInk in for pre-construction work on the pipeline. But the hereditary chiefs evicted the company shortly after a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted Coastal GasLink the second injunction on Dec. 31.

The RCMP began steadily increasing police presence on Wet’suwet’en territory on Jan. 13, putting up a blockade at the 27-kilometre mark of the road. Officers poured into the surrounding towns as they prepared to enforce the second injunction.

Though the hereditary chiefs and the province agreed last week to seven days of talks to de-escalate the situation, the discussions broke down Tuesday night. The next day, the RCMP warned they would begin enforcing the injunction imminently.

The first round of raids began hours before dawn Thursday. Officers with the court injunction in hand stormed a media camp and supply post at the 39-kilometre mark of the road, arresting four.

Officers arrested six more during Friday’s raid on the Gidimt’en Checkpoint, the result of a seven-hour standoff that left the camp still standing.

Police had also tried to get people barricaded inside a trapping cabin off the road near Gidimt’en Checkpoint to leave Friday. “Heavily armed” officers tried again Saturday, but Unist’ot’en said the people inside that cabin remained inside.

The six people arrested Thursday were released without charges, while the four arrested Friday will have their first court appearance Monday in the nearby town of Smithers, B.C., Unist’ot’en Camp said.

The situation has been condemned by the B.C. Human Rights Commission, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Meanwhile, solidarity demonstrations have played out across the country since Thursday, with Wet’suwet’en supporters blocking highways and major rail lines ⁠— including the VIA Rail route between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. SOURCE

RCMP, let journalists witness Unist’ot’en Camp

Photo from Facebook page of Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidimt’en territory.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have fought for many years to keep three pipelines from running through their land in northern B.C. At stake, the protesters say, is their way of life, their culture and their system of governance which was recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in the landmark Delgamuukw decision in 1997.

I remember when the Wet’suwet’en first erected the Unist’ot’en Camp to uphold the clans’ decision to prevent Enbridge, Chevron and TransCanada from building pipelines on their unceded lands in 2010. Tensions rose as they built a blockade and confronted workers who attempted to cross it, saying they had no permission to be on their territory.

Last December, a report by the Guardian newspaper sent shock waves across Canada. The Guardian said it had uncovered documents showing that the RCMP discussed shooting Indigenous clan members and supporters, all in the service of gas and oil. “Notes from a strategy session for a militarized raid on ancestral lands of the Wet’suwet’en nation show that commanders of Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), argued that “lethal overwatch is req’d” — a term for deploying an officer who is prepared to use lethal force.

Is this reconciliation? Hardly.

Is this making amends for residential schools, colonialization, the taking of lands and wealth? You bet it’s not.

Shockingly, a tweet from the Unist’ot’en Camp stated today the RCMP has blocked roads for 27 kilometers leading up to the site, barring media from witnessing and documenting their actions.

“We do not want to see a repeat of last year’s behaviour, when the RCMP used an exclusion zone to block journalists’ access, making it impossible to provide details on a police operation that was very much in the public interest,” Canadian Association of Journalists president Karyn Pugliese said in a tweet.

Pugliese has it right.

Even without the Guardian‘s report of the RCMP’s apparent willingness to use lethal force to remove people from the blockade, the RCMP should not be allowed to stop journalists from witnessing their actions.This is Horgan’s Scott Morrison moment. Like the Australia PM, Horgan is pushing fossil-fuel expansion in face of obviously dire climate change.

Now would be an excellent time for the B.C. Greens to show some backbone. Put Horgan’s govt on the line. If he proceeds against the Wet’suwet’en, dissolve the coalition. Force a new election.
As long as B.C. is going to follow neoliberal policies, the B.C. Liberals may as well be in power. But progressive voters must send a clear message to the NDP. We won’t accept this betrayal.

What have the Greens got to lose?

“Horgan says ‘rule of law applies,’ LNG pipeline will proceed despite protests” (Canadian Press: January 14, 2020)
A natural gas pipeline across northern British Columbia is vital to the region’s economic future and it will be built despite the objections of some Indigenous leaders, Premier John Horgan said Monday.
He said the courts have ruled in favour of the project and the RULE OF LAW will apply to ensure work continues on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which would start near Dawson Creek and extend to an export terminal at Kitimat.

Horgan told a news conference the project has received approval from 20 First Nations along the pipeline route.

“We want everyone to understand that there are agreements from the Peace Country to Kitimat with Indigenous communities that want to see economic activity and prosperity take place,” he said. “All the permits are in place for this project to proceed. This project is proceeding and the RULE OF LAW needs to prevail in B.C.”

Horgan’s government adopted legislation late last year to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It mandates the government to bring provincial laws and policies into harmony with the declaration’s aims of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

The UN declaration says Indigenous Peoples have the right to self-determination, which means they can determine their political status and pursue economic, social and cultural development. It requires governments to obtain “free and informed consent” from Indigenous groups before approving projects affecting their lands or resources.
BUT HORGAN SAYS THE DECLARATION DOESN’T APPLY TO THE COASTAL GASLINK PROJECT.

“Our document, our legislation, our declaration is FORWARD LOOKING,” he said. “It’s NOT RETROSPECTIVE. We believe it will open up opportunities not just for Indigenous people but for all British Columbians.”

https://calgaryherald.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-

The BC Civil Liberties Association stands with the Wet’suwet’en, too:
https://bccla.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2020-01-10-LT-RCMP-et-al-re…

Our wee co-op has also made such a statement:
http://ecoreality.org/wiki/Statement_in_support_of_the_Wet%27suwet%27en

Do you belong to a church group, charity, civic organization, or serve in local government? Your group is invited to do so, as well!
http://unistoten.camp/support-us/solidarity-statements/

This whole thing is wrong on so many different levels. The Wet’suwet’en is reporting that the RCMP is blocking shipments of food to their camps, during a bitter cold snap! “Starve them out” That thinking is so 1876. It is immoral.  SOURCE

RELATED:

Complaints filed against RCMP for blocking Wet’suwet’en access

Wet’suwet’en solidarity demonstrations take place across Canada

(Activists march through downtown Ottawa. Photo: Brett Forester/APTN)

Marches and demonstrations took place today in cities across Canada as part of an “international call to solidarity” issued by the Unist’ot’en Camp of the Wet’suwet’en Nation – and more are slated for the weekend.

Five Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters oppose Coastal GasLink Ltd.’s (CGL) proposed $6.6 billion, 670-km pipeline that if completed would carry fracked natural gas across northern B.C. to a facility near Kitimat on the coast.

The company has what it needs from the province to continue construction, along with a new injunction to clear the way.

It also has benefit agreements with all 20 elected First Nations governments along the route.

The Unist’ot’en Camp fears a repeat of last year’s RCMP raid on the Gidimt’en checkpoint that saw 14 people arrested. That raid enforced an interim injunction. The new injunction was posted to CGL’s website Tuesday and gave pipeline opponents 72-hours to clear all obstructions.

Marching on the Streets of Ottawa

In the nation’s capital, roughly a hundred demonstrators marched west from Parliament Hill, passing the new Indigenous Peoples Building which sits right across the street.

Activists then delivered speeches in front of the World Exchange Plaza where the TD Bank is located. They moved down the road to the Royal Bank of Canada before completing their march at a makeshift campsite between the Prime Minister’s Office and the National War Memorial.

“I want to see them actually implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, respecting Wet’suwet’en law – back off on their land, retract the permits of Coastal GasLink pipeline – and to stop using force. Leave the land defenders and First Nation to live,” said Vi Bui, an event organizer with Climate Justice Ottawa.

Bui’s group and three different activist organizations marched through the streets of downtown Ottawa, chanting slogans. They voiced support for members of the Wet’suwet’en nation that oppose CGL.

Wet'suwet'en

(Ottawa’s Natalie Lasalle drumming across from Parliament. Photo: Brett Forester/APTN)

Natalie Lasalle, a non-status First Nations woman from Ottawa, said it’s “quite frankly disgusting” that B.C.’s Supreme Court granted an interlocutory injunction authorizing the RCMP to use force once again to remove blockades and arrest anyone obstructing pipeline construction.

“That’s not right,” she said.

“Native people are people, we deserve equal treatment, we deserve the right to our land, we deserve the right to our water, and we deserve the right to peaceful protest.”

Pat Taylor said her group, Extinction Rebellion, pitched the “climate emergency camp” to pressure the government to act on the issue of climate change.

Even though the company has signed agreements with elected First Nations governments, Taylor told APTN News that this doesn’t constitute free and prior informed consent.

“That’s a colonial structure that they have permission from. That is not the recognized government of the Wet’suwet’en people, and they have been on that land for time immemorial,” Taylor argued.

Wet'suwet'en

(Mi’kmaw activist Sophia Sidarous. Photo: Brett Forester/APTN)

Sophia Sidarous, a Mi’kmaw woman living in Gatineau, addressed the assembled crowd through a megaphone.

“They’ve accepted UNDRIP, and they’ve said that this is the most important relationship with the government is nation to nation relationship,” Sidarous told APTN afterward.

“But right now we’re not treated as a nation. We’re treated as criminals and we’re constantly criminalized under Canada. So I would really like to see them put their words into effect.”

Beating the drum in Montreal

 

In Montreal, guided by the beat of Marlene Hale’s drum, dozens of students and supporters gathered near the gates of McGill University – breath visible in the cold air – to convey their solemn message.

Touting hand-painted signs saying “pas de pipelines” or “no CGL,” supporters at Friday’s event – which was organized by the university’s Indigenous Affairs student group – were given the opportunity to write messages of support on pre-addressed postcards to be sent to Unist’ot’en camp.

“[The government] still doesn’t get it, they still live under a rock,” Hale told onlookers. “If you stop all these pipelines, all this atrocity that is happening to the Indigenous people worldwide – you will make a difference.”

Hale, a chef living and working in Montreal, calls herself “the only Wet’suwet’en in Quebec.”

As an “accidental activist,” Hale was thrust into the public spotlight one year ago while questioning the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a town hall in Sainte-Hyacinthe, Que., about the standoff on her home territory.

Even now, a year after that encounter, Hale says little has changed.

“My address today is to Prime Minister Trudeau. Where the heck are you? Why aren’t you here looking after your people?” Hale shouted. “We got you where we are today. You need to come back and do your job.”

Other First Nations representatives were just as openly critical of Trudeau’s perceived inaction.

“We see the way the Canadian government is acting, and reacting to traditional people. Mr. Trudeau talks about his country being based around law and order, but he’s a good liar,” explained Louis Pronovost from Kahnawake Mohawk Territory.

“We see through their actions, they’re not honorable people. They’re not honorable leaders. They’re liars,” he added.

Which, for Hale, augments the anticipation – or apprehension – that a standoff may erupt between the RCMP and the land defenders gathered near the worksite.

“We pray that nobody is going to be hurt. We want them to put their guns down,” Hale said.

“This is what we hold for guns – feathers,” she added, gesturing to an eagle feather held by a nearby supporter. “How can you put that down with an assault rifle? On elders, on young people who are land defenders.”

“That’s all they were,” she added. “They were not criminals.”

Although not physically present during the gathering at McGill, Ghislain Picard, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations for Quebec and Labrador, expressed his support and called the government’s previous “violent” arrests of community members “despicable.”

“It is frustrating and disappointing that the Government of Canada is once again committing to the principles of free, prior and informed consent on the one hand, but on the other hand, allowing projects without seeking to work with the First Nations directly affected by them,” Picard said in a statement.

“Clearly, no project will be viable if it is imposed by force on First Nations communities.”

“Canada’s been trespassing against First Nations…” 

 

Mi’kmaq grassroots grandmothers and about 50 supporters rallied in Halifax.

Alton gas protestors led by the grassroots grandmothers braved the cold in Halifax.

Thunderbird Swooping Down Woman occupied a camp at the Alton Gas project site.

At the rally, Woman told the crowd corporations only care about money.

“They don’t care about the land, they don’t care about the water, and that’s the sad part about this and that’s why we have to stand out in this cold to make a point,” she said.

The battle against corporations is coast to coast.

Melissa Morrisseau said she was at the Kinder Morgan blockade in Vancouver in 2018.

“If we don’t show them who will, and we have to instill that pride back into them and show them that together we can do this,” said Morrisseau.

Morrisseau said she will continue to protect the land.

“Canada’s been trespassing against First Nations people forever and it has to stop, it has to stop now,” she said.

SOURCE

Unist’ot’en camp awaits RCMP after injunction enforced at Gidimt’en anti-pipeline checkpoint

Mounties enforcing court order to allow pipeline company access to northern B.C. road and bridge

The Unist’ot’en camp is one of two set up by members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation to prevent TransCanada Corp from gaining access to the road near Houston, B.C. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

It remained to be seen Wednesday how the RCMP would enforce a court injunction that would grant the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project access to a road and bridge near Houston, B.C., that have been blocked by opponents of the project from the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

The Unist’ot’en camp is one of two set up by members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation to prevent TransCanada Corp., which owns Coastal GasLink, from gaining access to the forest road in northern B.C., about 300 kilometres west of Prince George.

The proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline is meant to transport natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the coast, where a liquefied natural gas project is scheduled for construction.

On Monday, RCMP entered the fortified checkpoint at the Gidimt’en camp on the forest service road to enforce the injunction, granted in December, ordering people to stop preventing workers from gaining access. Fourteen people were arrested.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation established the camps with fortified checkpoints, saying Coastal GasLink workers can only pass if they have consent from hereditary leaders.

An RCMP officer speaks with a driver at the ‘exclusion zone’ police have set up on a forest road near Houston, B.C., as they enforce an injunction allowing pipeline workers access past Wet’suwet’en checkpoints. Mounties were headed to a second camp Tuesday. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

TransCanada, now known as TC Energy, said it signed agreements with all First Nations along the proposed pipeline route to the $40-billion LNG Canada facility being built in Kitimat, B.C., but some hereditary chiefs say those agreements don’t apply to the traditional territories.

RCMP Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said the people arrested on Monday were brought to the Houston detachment.

“Any of those who were arrested in violation of the injunction or any of the orders in the injunction have to be taken before the justice who issued the injunction, which happens to be in Prince George,” she said.

She said she did not know when that would happen.

About a dozen Unist’ot’en supporters gathered in front of the Prince George courthouse Tuesday.

Watch footage from outside the courthouse:

Unist’ot’en supporters outside Prince George courthouse
Unist’ot’en supporters outside Prince George courthouse 0:38

Some people who weren’t arrested Monday at Gidimt’en retreated to the Unist’ot’en camp. It was established in 2010 in a remote part of the Wet’suwet’en​ Nation’s traditional territory.

Media are not being permitted to pass the RCMP exclusion zone established on the forest service road at the 27 kilometre mark.

ChantelleBellrichard

This is as far as we could get today. Police exclusion zone still at the 27km mark of the road. RCMP chopper took off while we were there. A few people on site at a fire.

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Hereditary Chief Namoks spoke at a rally held in nearby Smithers, B.C., Tuesday in support of the Unist’ot’en camp. He and other leaders have been meeting with RCMP and he said police want to bring in people from the Assembly of First Nations and the Union of British

Columbia Indian Chiefs to foster “dialogue.”

“They need to build trust with us,” he said.

“We have no trust right now. We understand the RCMP was doing what they were ordered to do. I don’t hold animosity against any human being but I do have an issue when industry is steering a government which orders the RCMP to do what they did to our people yesterday.”

Rallies were held across Canada on Tuesday in support of the Wet’suwet’en camps.

ChantelleBellrichard

Chief Namoks talks a bit about their meeting with the RCMP today re

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In an open letter posted on the company’s website, he wrote it was “unfortunate the RCMP were forced to take this action.”

Elder Carmen Nikal speaks at a rally in Smithers, B.C., Tuesday. She was among 14 people arrested Monday at the Gidimt’en camp for defying an injunction. She was released overnight but the others were held in custody. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

“We took legal action as a last resort and only after six years of unsuccessful efforts to find a mutual solution,” the letter reads in part.

“We respect the rights of individuals to peacefully express their point of view, as long as their activities do not disrupt or jeopardize the safety of the public, our employees, our contractors, and even themselves.”

Murray Rankin, MP for Victoria, also posted an open letter on the NDP website, writing that the party is calling on the prime minister “to engage immediately with the Wet’suwet’sen and demonstrate his commitment to real and meaningful reconciliation.”

“If Prime Minister Trudeau is serious about his commitments to Indigenous Peoples, he needs to help facilitate a peaceful resolution that respects the rights of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation,” Rankin wrote. SOURCE

NEW VIDEO “INVASION” IS NOW AVAILABLE

Watch INVASION Now!


In this era of “reconciliation”, Indigneous land is still being taken at gunpoint. INVASION is a new film about the Unist’ot’en Camp, Gidimt’en checkpoint, and the larger Wet’suwet’en Nation standing up to the Canadian government and corporations who continue colonial violence against indigenous people.

The 18 minute film is powerful and covers many of the events of the last year.

Organize a community screening of INVASION

This fight is far from over. Getting this story out to the larger public is critical and you can do that by sharing INVASION with friends and hosting a screening in your community!

Simply download the film here, make a Facebook event using this graphic, and download and print the poster designed by Gord Hill and plaster around your town. You can host anywhere from a living room to a local theater.

You can pass the hat for donations to send to the camp and hold a discussion about how people can help further Indigenous movements for self-determination. If you plan to fundraise at your screening please use the fundraising guide and let us know about your event so we can help promote it!

If you need any help organizing an event or have any questions please shoot us an email!

Donate
The struggle at Unist’ot’en continues forward and financial support is needed to maintain the camp and fund legal challenges. You can support the Unist’ot’en financially here: http://unistoten.camp/support-us/donate/

Come to Camp
Supporters who can stay 2 weeks or longer are needed on an ongoing basis! Register today!

No Pipelines in a Climate Emergency

This is a climate emergency. It’s time to act like it.

From June 9-18, people from coast-to-coast-to-coast are taking action to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet are expected to release their decision on whether they’ll approve the controversial project by June 18.

The Trans Mountain project could add 13 to 15 megatonnes of carbon emissions to the atmosphere, which would be like adding almost 3.8 million cars on the road. This will make it impossible for us to meet our climate targets, which are already far from the scale of emissions cuts that are needed.

At the same time, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) continues to push its “Coastal GasLink” (CGL) fracked gas pipeline.

As the Unist’ot’en Camp writes, “On January 7, 2019, the world watched in shock and horror as the unarmed Indigenous Wet’suwet’en were illegally forced at gunpoint to concede a checkpoint at the entrance to their unceded territories… The international community responded with a massive show of support and solidarity for the Wet’suwet’en protecting their land, with nearly 100 simultaneous demonstrations”.

Council chapters, supporters, and allies took action. It’s time to do so again.

The Unist’ot’en Camp is counting on supporters to mobilize in a big way for the next step in their legal battle. They write that “On the week of June 10, the BC Supreme Court in Prince George will hear Coastal GasLink’s petition for an interlocutory injunction. If they are successful, the interim injunction will be made functionally permanent, allowing CGL to continue with pipeline construction on Unist’ot’en territory without the consent of hereditary chiefs.”

Take Action HERE

RELATED:

Vancouver protesters stage final rally against Trans Mountain pipeline ahead of Ottawa decision
Trans Mountain pipeline protesters rally ahead of final Ottawa decision
Iqaluit students walk out of school protesting inaction on climate change

David Suzuki: Government should heed Unist’ot’en message

Freda Huson (here speaking to an RCMP officer) is a Witset band councillor and a founder of and spokesperson for the Wet'suwet'en's Unist'ot'en camp in the Interior of B.C.
Freda Huson (here speaking to an RCMP officer) is a Witset band councillor and a founder of and spokesperson for the Wet’suwet’en’s Unist’ot’en camp in the Interior of B.C.

I visited the Unist’ot’en camp near Kitimat, B.C., a year ago. The people, led by Chief Freda Huson, are trying to reestablish a sustainable relationship with territory that has enabled them to flourish for millennia. Ever since colonization and settlement, much of that traditional way of life has been lost or seriously constrained. These are modern people with all the accoutrements of the globalized economy.

As is obvious from news photos of the RCMP intrusion, winter at Unist’ot’en camp is cold, which makes it all the more remarkable. It did not spring up in protest against a pipeline; it began in 2010, in a search for a way to return to living on the land year-round.

Canada’s government has accepted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and committed to implementing the recommendations of our Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Indigenous rights, legitimacy of Indian Act–imposed band councils, sovereignty over land, and other issues will reverberate through the country for years.

When we elevate the economy above the atmosphere on our list of priorities, we raise a human construct over the air we breathe—air that brings us climate, weather, and seasons

In fighting to protect the land and water and exert traditional values and priorities, the Unist’ot’en pipeline opposition is at the forefront of a fight for all people in Canada. In November 2018, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report warned that global average temperature has risen by 1° C since the Industrial Revolution. If it increases above another half-degree, we’ll experience climate chaos. MORE