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.”
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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
On this week’s episode of the Victoria-based Out of Left Field podcast, independent journalist Zoe Ducklow (New York Times, The Tyee, Desmog Canada) joins the show to discuss indigenous rights & land claims, climate change and the role of activists in the struggle for a reconciliation.
Check out Zoe’s recent piece ‘Nine Things You Need to Know about the Unist’ot’en Blockade’ here: thetyee.ca/Analysis/2019/01/08…Unistoten-Blockade/
REINFORCEMENTS NEEDED ON THE FRONT-LINE NOW!
The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs speak for all their people in standing firm against the Coastal Gaslink fracking pipeline & for their land and water.
An amazing and powerful group of First Nations land defenders and allies continue to stand strong in defence of the unceded territory of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and the Unist’ot’en Yintah. Many of them have been there at the Access Points for almost three months now.
Coastal GasLink, the RCMP and the provincial government are carrying out regular incursions in violation of the agreement with the Hereditary Chiefs. This compromise, reached after the vicious militarized attack on the Access Points by the heavily armed Tactical Unit, was only to allow CGL survey crews to carry out preliminary survey work.
Instead, with RCMP collusion the company has ravaged significant areas with heavy equipment; destroying trap-lines and important cultural sites. The Unist’ot’en are stepping up observation and interdiction to enforce their “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” protocol for entry into the territory. Their right under International Law.
People with carpentry and winter camping skills, as well as people comfortable talking with police while on bridge duty will be very welcome.MORE
On Jan. 7 the RCMP, including members of the Tactical and Emergency Response Teams, attacked and dismantled the Gidimt’en checkpoint on Wet’suwet’en territory in Northern British Columbia, arresting 14 people. The Gidim’ten checkpoint was set up in December 2018 after the B.C. Supreme Court granted TransCanada Coastal GasLink an injunction to remove another camp, the Unist’ot’en checkpoint, which was established in 2009 to control and block access by pipeline corporations to Wet’suwet’en territory.
The Unist’ot’en camp website explained that while they expected “a large response, we did not expect a military level invasion where our unarmed women and elders were faced with automatic weapons and bulldozers”.
After the initial attack on the Gidimt’en checkpoint, the hereditary chiefs came to an agreement with the RCMP to allow the oil corporation access to do pre-construction work behind the Unist’ot’en checkpoint as specified in the injunction, while vowing that “this is not over”.
The Unist’ot’en have explained that
“while the chiefs have a responsibility to protect the land, they also have a duty to protect our land defenders. Our people faced an incredible risk of injury or death and that is not a risk we are willing to take for an interim injunction. The agreement we made allows Coastal GasLink to temporarily work behind the Unist’ot’en gate. This will continue to be a waste of their time and resources as they will not be building a pipeline in our traditional territory.”
Brenda Michell, Unist’ot’en house member, surveyed damage to a Unist’ot’en trapline, bulldozed through on Jan. 27, 2019. Photo by Michael Toledano
A subsidiary of Calgary-based energy company TransCanada bulldozed through traplines and personal property from two different clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation last week, while the RCMP enforced an interim injunction requested by the company so that it could proceed with construction. Some Wet’suwet’en members said the RCMP illegally prevented them from entering their own territories, violating the nation’s rights.
“They bulldozed through one of our traplines, pulled them out and clearcut the area,” Freda Huson, spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en House, told National Observer on the phone Monday morning. “The police told us the interim injunction against us overrides the traplines. The injunction says we can’t come within 10 metres of the work area, but our traps are outside of the 10 metres.”
Hereditary chiefs and some other members of the nation have questioned the validity of the interim injunction, since the company used support from contested leadership, as evidence of consent. Wet’suwet’en leaders, hereditary chiefs, matriarchs, spokespeople and community members, continue to demand that they are the only authority over their traditional territories, through a governance system that was also recognized and upheld in the Supreme Court of Canada in ‘Delgamuukw v. British Columbia.’ MORE
…It is certainly true that, where an Indigenous nation brings a title claim in court, the court will expect that nation to prove its claim. The procedural double standard in this approach has been pointed out by observers such as Professor John Borrows, who rhetorically asks: “Why should the Aboriginal group bear the burden of reconciliation by proving its occupation of land? After all, the Crown is the subsequent claimant. Why should the Crown not have to prove its land claims?” Nonetheless it is obvious that Canadian courts accept Crown title based, as Professor Borrows puts it, on “bare words,” while expecting Indigenous nations to prove their claim to pre-existing Aboriginal title.
Aboriginal rights are inherent – not granted by Canadian law
What the RCMP statement does not address, however, and what is often overlooked in the “prove-it” approach, is that Aboriginal title and governance exist and apply in Canadian law now, even if the bounds of title lands have not been delineated in a court case.
Peter Grant, a lawyer for the Wet’suwet’en, summarized this well in his recent response to the RCMP’s media statement: “it’s not that title doesn’t exist pre-declaration, it’s that the government is refusing to recognize title before a court declaration.” MORE
Decade-old protest camps on Wet’suwet’en lands were violently breached by the police to make way for a TransCanada Corp. oil pipeline, which will be part of the largest private sector project in the country if completed.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) violently evicted activists and arrested 14 to make way for a 670-km long pipeline. (Photo: Mike Hudema/Twitter)
In yet another case of a stand-off between an oil pipeline and First Nation communities, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) violently evicted activists and arrested 14 to make way for a 670-km long pipeline. Indigenous activists have been fighting a long-drawn legal battle to prevent the pipeline, planned over the traditional Wet’suwet’en lands in British Columbia, Canada.
The planned pipeline, estimated to cost over CAD 6.2 billion (approximately USD 4.8 billion), is a project by Coastal GasLink which is a subsidiary of the TransCanada Corp. of the Keystone XL infamy. The pipeline, if completed, will be a part of the largest private sector project of the country, LNG Canada, which will rake in an investment of around USD 40 billion, mostly from foreign sources.
The violent breach of the checkpoints and the arrests have attracted condemnation and protests from across the nation. In Toronto, hundreds of protesters took to the streets under the banner of #ShutdownCanada, in a demonstration of solidarity, even shutting off the road leading up to the Parliament for a brief period. MORE
B.C. judge granted a temporary injunction for access by Coastal GasLink on Friday
Freda Huson speaking to supporters outside the Prince George courthouse before a hearing last week regarding the injunction application made by Coastal GasLink. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)
A second checkpoint has been put up on a remote B.C. forestry road to block construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, days after a court ordered that the first one must stop preventing the company from accessing the road and a bridge.
An interim injunction order from a B.C. court last Friday ordered the individuals at the Unist’ot’en camp, a self-described re-occupation of Wet’suwet’en land, to stop impeding Coastal GasLink from gaining access to the logging road and bridge it argues is on a critical path it needs to access as part of pipeline construction.
The pipeline is part of an estimated $40 billion natural gas project slated for construction in B.C. The nearly 700 km long pipeline is meant to transport natural gas from northeastern B.C. to a liquefied natural gas plant slated for construction in the north coast community of Kitimat. MORE
An Indigenous camp was ordered Friday to remove a gate that’s blocking a bridge in northwestern B.C. and holding up a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline project.
Judge Marguerite Church of the B.C. Supreme Court sided with Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp., which filed an injunction to get construction going on the $40-billion LNG Canada build.
“People were crying but I feel emboldened because we are getting so much support,” said Warner Naziel of the Indigenous Unist’ot’en Camp – a land-based healing centre on Wet’suwet’en traditional territory south of Houston, B.C. MORE