Unist'ot'en camp

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Unist'ot'en Camp (and vid)


"Yesterday Coastal Gaslink contractors illegally bulldozed through one of our traplines. Damage to the trapline is a direct attack on our healing center and the well being of our Wet'suwet'en people. CGL continues to disrespect our yintah, our culture and our traditions."


From Red River to Unist'ot'en: An Unconventional Timeline of Police Repression


"Settlers don't always like to admit their mistakes..."

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CGL temporarily shuts down pipeline work due to safety concerns

Coastal GasLink says it temporarily shut down work in Wet’suwet’en territory Thursday due to safety concerns.

CGL says a number of unauthorized people entered an active construction zone to place traps, which it says puts both heavy equipment crews and trappers at risk.

Unist’ot’en members say Coastal GasLink workers blocked access to Wet’suwet’en traplines.  They say they’re also concerned about their sweat lodge, which they fear might be damaged in the future.

The developments follow accusations earlier this week by Unist’ot’en members that CGL crews conducting preliminary work for the Coastal GasLink pipeline bulldozed through one of their trap lines.

In a Facebook post, the Unist’ot’en said the damage represented a direct attack on their healing center, the wellness of the Wet’suwet’en, and is a violation of the Wildlife Act.

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Broken Promises: CGL, RCMP Block Unist’ot’en Matriarch from Accessing Land, Violate Wildlife Act

Coastal GasLink continues to bulldoze our trap lines and destroy our land, pushing Wet’suwet’en people aside with support from the RCMP. The destruction of our trap lines is a direct threat to the programming of our Healing Centre and the wellness of our clients. We know from our oral histories that this area, now being destroyed for a CGL man camp, has been used by our trappers for thousands of years.

To date, Coastal GasLink has still not undertaken proper consultation or made any agreement with our Hereditary Chiefs. We do not consent to any aspect of this project. We have notified CGL that they are in violation of the Wildlife Act, but they continue to deny us access and destroy our traps.

Under the threat of imminent police violence, our Chiefs reached an agreement with the RCMP to comply with CGL’s temporary injunction. That agreement states “there will not be any RCMP interference with our members regarding access to the territory for the purposes of trapping and/or other traditional practices.”

Now, our trappers are being told they face arrest if they attempt to access their traplines, while CGL bulldozers are being permitted to plow through them.

In this video, Unist’ot’en member Brenda Michell speaks to CGL contractors and RCMP. RCMP Officer Cook is seen consulting with CGL employees before threatening Michell with arrest.

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Round dance for Wet'suwet'en occupies downtown Edmonton intersection

Rush hour drivers in downtown Edmonton saw an unusual traffic disruption Tuesday afternoon — a protest in a busy intersection.

The intersection on 104th Street and Jasper Avenue was blocked for nearly an hour starting at 5:45 p.m., as about 100 people took part in a round dance. Police helped re-direct traffic around the drummers and dancers.

Members of Indigenous Climate Action and Climate Justice Edmonton organized the event to show solidarity with members of the Wet'suwet'en Nation in northern B.C., who have been protesting the construction of a natural gas pipeline on traditional territory.


"This event with the RCMP going in with militarized equipment onto unceded land is Canada again committing settler-colonial violence," said Thundering-Antler, who noted his family is made up of residential school survivors.

"I wasn't able to stand up against the government and the RCMP when they were taking children away, but I am able to do something today."

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Statement of Support for Unist’ot’en Camp and Wet’suwet’en Leadership

The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC) stands in support with Unist’ot’en Camp and Wet’suwet’en Leadership in their peaceful defense of Wet’suwet’en lands in northern British Columbia against Coastal Gaslink Pipeline. The 1997 Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa case confirmed Wet’suwet’en’s title and rights to these lands as represented and held by their hereditary leaders; moreover, these lands are unceded.

DEWC membership is comprised of majority Indigenous women, low-income and working class women, most of whom are survivors of violence. DEWC recognizes that the same systemic violence that deeply affects Indigenous women takes many forms: in this case, militarized enforcement by the government removing unarmed women and Elders from their traditional lands, disrespecting hereditary leadership, and disrupting healing work and ceremony. Unist’ot’en conducts invaluable work for Indigenous people affected by intergenerational trauma, substance use, abuse, and other lasting effects of colonial violence (ex. residential schools and cultural genocide), work that is imperative to women in the Downtown Eastside community and to true reconciliation. We condemn the actions of the federal and provincial government, the courts and police in granting the injunction to TransCanada’s Coastal Gaslink project and criminalizing Indigenous people protecting their traditional lands and territory.

In 2016, the government of Canada signed onto the United Nations Declarations of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) as a full supporter, without qualification. UNDRIP mandates free, prior and informed consent for any project crossing Indigenous land, which has unequivocally been denied by all five Wet’suwet’en clans. Article 10 of UNDRIP clearly states that “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their land or territories,” while at Gidimt’en Access Point, militarized RCMP arrested land defenders with snipers and automatic weapons on hand. We strongly urge the implementation of UNDRIP at every level, the fulfillment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s 94 Calls to Action, and concrete acknowledgement — and sustained action — on the severity of violence faced by Indigenous women.

DEWC is a non-profit that receives government funding for our work of providing refuge, vital needs, and a spectrum of support to women in the Downtown Eastside. We call on all levels of government to recognize that violence against Indigenous land, violence against water protectors and land defenders, and violence against women are interrelated: in the Downtown Eastside and across Turtle Island (North America).

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Coastal GasLink and RCMP Violating Gidimt’en Sovereignty and Own Agreement

Over the weekend Coastal GasLink willfully, illegally, and violently destroyed Gidimt’en cultural infrastructure and personal property on Gidimt’en territory without our consent. This was our infrastructure to be on our land and exercise our land-based culture. Coastal GasLink’s attack on our cultural practices - with RCMP’s active complicity - is an attack on our sovereignty and an attack on our way of life.

This is an area, at 44 km, where Coastal GasLink have not obtained permits and is not even included in their proposed plans. Coastal GasLink did not provide any copies of permits for work to be undertaken in Gidimt’en territory, nor does our cultural infrastructure constitute an ‘obstruction’ within the limits of the interim injunction. Therefore, Coastal GasLink has no permits, authority, or legal rights to dismantle our cultural site or property. They illegally destroyed Gidimt’en cultural infrastructure and property with the support of the RCMP, who watched this happen and acted as industry’s private bodyguards. The RCMP have been notified of Coastal GasLink’s illegal activity under their own law, and the Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt’en territory is pursuing criminal charges into destruction of property and mischief by Coastal GasLink....

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RCMP on sidelines as TransCanada bulldozes Wet’suwet’en land


Pipelines over traplines

Since the truce, TransCanada has continued construction activities, working between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., as mandated by the interim injunction.

The latest developments occurred on Friday, Jan. 25, as company workers bulldozed a trapline belonging to members of the Unist'ot'en House. This trapline had been set well before the injunction was served, and Huson said that TransCanada had no authority to destroy it. Huson also alleged that the recent activities violate Section 46 of the provincial Wildlife Act, which says "a person who knowingly damages or interferes with a lawfully set trap commits an offence."

Under conditions of the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC), pipeline companies are required to complete site-specific archeological surveys, before undertaking any clearing work on proposed man-camp sites. In their injunction application, TransCanada acknowledged that these archeological surveys had not yet been completed, and the Office of the Wet'suwet'en and Unist'ot'en House both confirm that they have not received evidence of these legally required site-specific surveys.

Huson said the surveys are critical, as many of the proposed work sites include historical encampments, artifacts and grave sites.

The Unist'ot'en House has called for immediate stop-work orders, to address and investigate potential and ongoing violations of the conditions of their Environmental Assessment Certificate and BCOGC permits. They are currently consulting with legal experts to understand how to continue to assert their rights and address violations under Canadian laws. Their rights and responsibilities under ‘Anuc niwh’it’en (Wet'suwet'en laws) remain clear, members stress.

"It feels like our hands are tied," Huson said. "Our people keep getting threatened for arrests. Our ceremony sites are blocked. They're backing an illegal project that's destroying peoples' livelihoods."

The Environmental Assessment Certificate also requires that the pipeline company notify all tenure holders in the area affected by pipeline construction, six months before construction activity that could impact their tenure. "Chief Knedebeas holds trapline tenure for the Unist'ot'en territory and was notified by the company that site clearing and construction on Camp 9A would not begin until 2020," Huson said.

Kent Karemaker, media relations spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources confirmed that the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) Compliance and Enforcement (C&E) received complaints relating to the construction activities of the Coastal Gaslink by the Wet'suwet'en.

"EAO C&E has since been in contact with the Oil and Gas Commission (OGC), the Conservation Officer Service as well as other relevant provincial agencies," Karemaker told National Observer in an email. "The EAO C&E will be conducting a joint site inspection with the OGC this week to evaluate the complaint directly. We anticipate that it will take some time subsequently to determine whether any non-compliances are evident and, if so, the appropriate enforcement action."

"Everybody is so exhausted. The company doesn't work on Sundays, so we did ceremony all day Sunday," she said. "They're not telling us anything. The only time we get information from them is when they're making demands. It feels like all the officials, the government, and police, are all backing the project and acting as security for the company."

The agreement made between the RCMP and hereditary chiefs on Jan. 10, states that "there will not be any RCMP interference with Wet'suwet'en members regarding access to their territories for the purposes of trapping and/or other traditional practices," but Huson said the agreement has not been upheld. RCMP officers have threatened trappers with arrest for attempting to access their traplines, and warned patients of the Unist'ot'en Healing Centre that they could be arrested for participating in ceremony, she said.

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..more from above


On Jan. 25, TransCanada employees destroyed Gidimt'en cultural infrastructure and personal property on Gidimt'en territory, also without the clan's consent, Wet'suwet'en members say. According to a press statement released by the Gidimt'en Access Point, TransCanada destroyed property in an area where the company has not obtained permits, and an area not included in their proposed plans.

"Coastal GasLink did not provide any copies of permits for work to be undertaken in Gidimt'en territory, nor does our cultural infrastructure constitute an 'obstruction' within the limits of the interim injunction," Monday's press statement said. "The RCMP have been notified of TransCanada's illegal activity under their own law, and the Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en territory is pursuing criminal charges into destruction of property and mischief."

Jen Wickham, a spokesperson for the Gidimt'en Access Point, told National Observer that they would be seeking thousands of dollars in compensation for damages done to their property.

"They have no legal permit to enter our territory," Wickham said over the phone. "They said they have a work permit, but they have yet to produce one. They said they would leave one at the RCMP office in Houston, but it's not there yet. I suspect they will be running out to apply for a permit."

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..at the bottom of this support piece is a very long list of musicians who have signed on.

To Unist’ot’en Camp, Land defenders in Wet’suwet’en territory,

On January 7th, 2019 we watched, infuriated as a militarized RCMP forced the removal of 14 land protectors from Wet’suwet’en territory at gunpoint. The continued invasion of unceded Wet’suwet’en land by Coastal GasLink pipeline workers without your consent violates Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People and ‘Anuc niwh’it’en (Wet’suwet’en Law). We have heard your hereditary chiefs say “No” to the Coastal Gaslink development and we intend to amplify it. 

We call the Canadian government to account.  As musicians, we know a PR campaign when we see one: since 2015 Justin Trudeau has promoted a message of Truth and Reconciliation and professed the goal of building meaningful nation-to-nation relationships, but his government’s actions don’t align.  Meaningful nation-to-nation relationships are not made at gunpoint.  In response to questions regarding the violence in Wet’suwet’en last week, Trudeau said that it wasn’t “ideal” but that Canada is “a country of the rule of law” inferring that his hands were tied. In fact, he was sidestepping the inconvenient truth that the Supreme Court of Canada found in the 1997 Delgamuukw decision that Indigenous land rights and title were not extinguished at the time of colonization.  As such, the Canadian rule of law states that Wet’suwet’en nation’s hereditary leaders have decision making power on their unceded territory.

Many of us grew up in Canada as uninvited guests, misinformed about Canadian history and the settler-colonial project of expansion. It’s 2019, and we refuse a willful ignorance, and take seriously the responsibility dealt to all Canadians by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to learn about Canada’s legacy of colonial violence. We recognize the pattern of the RCMP’s role in expanding Canadian influence over Indigenous peoples’ lands for the purpose of resource extraction. We are horrified by the violence of last week and the RCMP’s continued harassment of your people, and troubled by the exclusion zones erected to keep the press from reporting and Wet’suwet’en citizens from returning to their homes....

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..watch the video to see the speaker make his case.

Canada Hates Indigenous People

Our Elders wept as they surveyed the damage left behind by CGL at a trapping site our people have always used. A day after a sweat ceremony, with RCMP threatening the arrest of our trappers and healing centre clients, CGL contractors illegally destroyed the rest of one of our traplines.

We see daily how RCMP permits CGL to break Canadian laws, while we are threatened with arrest for exercising our rights and title. We have never ceded or surrendered our rights to this land, and we never will.

We abide by their injunction and all that we have asked is that they uphold their own laws. The RCMP has openly violated its agreement with our chiefs. They waste our time daily. CGL continuously harasses our healing centre clients, while RCMP threatens enforcement.

Canada hates us. Canada hates Wet’suwet’en, Mi’kmaq, Tahtlan, Nehiyaw, Anishinaabe, Kaska, Denesuline, Secwepemc, and the list goes on. Canada hates us all.

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Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions continue from coast to coast to coast

January 30, 2019

On January 7, 2019 militarized RCMP invaded and occupied unceded Wet'suwet'en territories to try to forcibly clear a path for a fracked gas pipeline owned by Coastal Gaslink (TransCanada), arresting 14 Indigenous land defenders. The temporary agreement that was reached has since been breached as the company has illegally destroyed traplines of two different clans of the Wet'suwet'en Nation.

But Wet'suwet'en land defenders have been fighting to protect their land and sovereignty for decades -- including the 1997 Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa court case and the Unist'ot'en Camp that has blocked pipelines and healed the land since 2009 -- and they will not stop here.

Council of Canadians supporters and chapter activists have been taking part in solidarity actions from coast to coast to coast, and there are many more planned. Find an upcoming event near you here, and find more ways to stand in solidarity via the Wet'suwet'en Strong Supporter Toolkit that has been released....

A round dance in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en blocks an intersection in Edmonton on January 22. Photo by Abdul Malik.


epaulo13 wrote:

..watch the video to see the speaker make his case.

Canada Hates Indigenous People

Our Elders wept as they surveyed the damage left behind by CGL at a trapping site our people have always used. A day after a sweat ceremony, with RCMP threatening the arrest of our trappers and healing centre clients, CGL contractors illegally destroyed the rest of one of our traplines.

We see daily how RCMP permits CGL to break Canadian laws, while we are threatened with arrest for exercising our rights and title. We have never ceded or surrendered our rights to this land, and we never will.

We abide by their injunction and all that we have asked is that they uphold their own laws. The RCMP has openly violated its agreement with our chiefs. They waste our time daily. CGL continuously harasses our healing centre clients, while RCMP threatens enforcement.

Canada hates us. Canada hates Wet’suwet’en, Mi’kmaq, Tahtlan, Nehiyaw, Anishinaabe, Kaska, Denesuline, Secwepemc, and the list goes on. Canada hates us all.

couldn't get angrier after this.

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How B.C. quietly found a way to permit natural gas plants without environmental reviews

On April 16, 2014, the B.C. government was forced to rescind a controversial piece of legislation just two days after it came into force.

The slap-dash rule in question exempted proposed natural gas plants from undergoing environmental assessments.

It was a change fossil fuel companies and major donors to the then-ruling BC Liberals had been clamouring for as they ramped up drilling and fracking for natural gas in the northeast of the province.

Yet 48 hours after the exemption was put in place through an Order in Council, B.C.’s Environment Minister, Mary Polak, was forced to issue a mea culpa that hinted at an embarrassing lack of consultation with First Nations.

Nearly five years later, the events surrounding Polak’s jaw-dropping turnaround are worth revisiting in light of the current government’s overhaul of B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Actthe same piece of legislation that Polak so ill-advisedly set out to change.

Internal documents show industry request for exemption

Thanks to documents the Fort Nelson First Nation obtained through a Freedom of Information request, we know more about what happened back in Polak’s day.

Those documents clearly show that Canada’s preeminent fossil fuel industry lobby organization — the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers — wanted the change that Polak signed into law.

So did Encana Corporation — one of the province’s top natural gas producers and a substantial political donor, primarily to the BC Liberals but also to the NDP.

With the stroke of her pen, Polak formally ended the requirement that “upstream” natural gas processing plants must undergo provincial environmental assessments.

The change paved the way for speedy approval of such plants, of which Encana was known to want to build three. The plants, now built, owned and operated by Veresen Midstream LP, were designed to take raw gas from the growing network of drilled and fracked natural gas wells in northeast B.C., strip the gas of valuable liquids such as condensate, and then send the processed gas on its way to customers.

The same documents also show that Polak’s staff and others in government knew that what they were doing would be vigorously opposed by First Nations, whom they had pointedly failed to consult.


Current B.C. government upholding back door exemption

This is the legacy that the current government inherited.

It knows that allowing the Environmental Assessment Office to retain broad discretionary powers to exempt major projects from formal environmental assessments is an affront to the very idea of free, informed prior consent — a cornerstone of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the current government has sworn to uphold.

Unfortunately, the government’s recent revisions to the Act would see the Environmental Assessment Office retain the same sweeping discretionary powers as before, with the only caveat being that if the office recommends a project be exempted from review, then the minister would have to sign the actual exemption order itself.

This minor change marks a tiny step forward by placing the onus on the minister, but it is hardly one that should comfort First Nations or the general public.

All major industrial projects have environmental impacts.

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Colonial frontlines in the city: urban Indigenous organizing

In so-called Canada, urban Indigenous organizers are re-energizing a decades-old struggle by redefining Indigenous sovereignty in the city streets.

“I brought you all some water,” I said to the ragtag crew of six holding our “All Nations Unite With Wet’suwet’en” banner across the lane of semi-truck traffic heaving out of the Port of Vancouver. We had been standing, rotating positions, for five hours now.

A hundred feet away, 200 people formed a square around the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive, blocking semis, buses, and drivers headed to the glass towers of downtown. At the center of the intersection, Elders from local nations sang and drummed. With a pivot of their feet, they honored the four directions: north, south, east, and west.

I walked back to the intersection and stood with the man from yesterday’s march. He had been making his way through the crowd, offering people sage for smudging, a common cleansing ceremony. He held out his hands.

“I have to go soon. I didn’t smudge you yet. I want to give you this.” His hands held the abalone shell, the burning medicine, and feathers. Then, he looked me steadily in the eye and said, “I see you. We see you.”

Tears blurred my vision. I brought the smudge bowl to the table under the tent and cleared away bags of chips and plastic containers of muffins. I smudged. The medicine drifted through the air, and Dennis, the man from Moricetown on the Wet’suwet’en nation, walked away, toward the east. I held the feathers until, exhausted and triumphant, we marched out of the intersection as the winter dusk fell in the late afternoon.

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..more from the above piece.


That day, January 9, 2019, urban Native organizers led a six-hour blockade of the Port of Vancouver. We were responding to attacks by the RCMP, Canada’s paramilitary police force, on Wet’suwet’en people who have reoccupied their territory since 2010. The RCMP have been authorized by the British Columbia Supreme Court to forcibly clear a path for the construction stage of Coastal GasLink’s fracked gas pipeline. We targeted the Port because it is one of the most valuable economic sites in Vancouver, with goods worth hundreds of thousands of dollars passing through each hour. We targeted the Port to show the colonial state that Indigenous people will not sit quietly by while our cousins and comrades are under attack.

Since December 10, 2018, we have organized five other solidarity actions in Vancouver. We have occupied Coastal GasLink’s corporate offices; organized three simultaneous sit-ins of New Democrat Party (NDP) politicians’ offices (the “progressive” Party in BC under whose direction the RCMP is acting); led a march through downtown that blocked two bridges; mobilized 1,500 people into the streets of Vancouver to hear inspiring speeches; and, most recently, blockaded a rail line that leads into and out of the Port.

These actions have been strong, righteous acts of solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation in northern British Columbia. As urban Native organizers, we stand by our cousins and comrades at Wet’suwet’en.

This moment of organizing is fierce, but within our own communities, we talk quietly about the absence of sustained urban Native organizing, outside of the “flashpoints” of solidarity actions that we often lead in the city for Indigenous land defenders on the remote frontlines. In settler-colonial Canada, these flashpoints inevitably come every few years, but our organizing does not sustain itself beyond our reactions to violations of Indigenous sovereignty on the land.

Many of us wonder: where is our movement?

Red Power Roots

There is an incredible history of urban Native organizing in Canada and the United States. One of the most famous was the Indigenous sovereigntist Red Power movement, which was most active and visible between the 1960s and the 1980s. Many groups organized during Red Power, but perhaps the most popularly known organization is the American Indian Movement.

Red Power was sparked when Indigenous fishing rights, secured through treaties, were threatened. In response, Indigenous activists in Washington State staged “fish-ins,” risking arrest to fish in their own waters. Then in 1969, the 19-month reoccupation of Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay gained massive mainstream media attention and pushed issues of Native sovereignty and rights into the public discourse. Red Power was a pan-Indian movement that focused on unity between diverse Indigenous nations in the face of the colonial states of the US and Canada.

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..my final addition from the above piece.


Urban Natives in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

In between these two tendencies, I have quietly fought to carve out space for urban Natives to make connections with our cousins and comrades at Wet’suwet’en, and elsewhere. In Vancouver, I have been organizing with an ad hoc coalitional group that includes both settlers and Indigenous people. We come from different organizations and different politics and backgrounds. Our greatest shared point of unity is the political principle of Indigenous sovereignty, and a belief, different as it may be given our social and historical positions, in our responsibility to respond to this moment of colonial attack on Indigenous sovereignty in the streets.

Our work responds to two challenges: one is to create a place in Indigenous sovereignty movements to ensure that land defense politics also see the city as land; the second is to find a place for Indigenous struggles within class-based urban grassroots movements, which tend to elide the very real forces of colonialism that also structure the city.

In addition to my involvement with Wet’suwet’en solidarity organizing, I have been a member for the past seven years in an anti-capitalist and anti-colonial organization, Alliance Against Displacement. Our community organizing work has tended to focus on low-income struggles, homeless tent cities, and renter’s struggles. More recently we have started a campaign led by trans women called Bread, Roses and Hormones and a campaign against the police in the suburb of Surrey, called Anti-Police Surrey.

From the first years of being involved with Alliance Against Displacement, the urban Indigenous people within the group have wanted to start an urban Indigenous campaign. We have yearned to do this, ached over it, spent many hours dedicated to theorizing what an urban Indigenous campaign would look like in the second decade of the 21st century. We met with homeless Indigenous people in tent cities. We held talking circles for self-identified Indigenous people in Vancouver. It was hard to find the spark that could sustain a movement, and that is ultimately what we hoped to build through a campaign.

In the past two months of organizing Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions and support in Vancouver, I have felt a shift. We urban Native people are in the streets blocking ports, rail lines, speaking freely about our right to our land, our sovereignty, our nationhood. We are drumming and singing unapologetically, leading marches of thousands of people, some of us dressed in our traditional regalia happily standing beside some of us dressed in jeans and Wu-Tang sweatshirts. We are meeting each other spontaneously in the streets, building connections, and sharing politics. We are connecting with political elders, like Ray Bobb, who was involved with the Native Alliance for Red Power in the 1960s and 70s in Vancouver. We are meeting youth, like the young Stó:lô woman Sii-am, who spoke in the whipping wind and pouring rain just after we shut down a major transportation route in downtown Vancouver one evening.

While the violence against Wet’suwet’en people, and Wet’suwet’en land, is yet another mournful example of colonialism in Canada, I also see great potential in this moment. Urban Native people are being catalyzed through the Wet’suwet’en assertion of sovereignty. We are rekindling our voices, hearing new voices, developing a more explicit politics of sovereignty that takes us into the streets.


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“Wet’suwet’en Strong”: Indigenous resistance in Canada


An act of Indigenous sovereignty

It is also important to acknowledge that other Wet’suwet’en people have reoccupied their territories over the years as well; Unist’ot’en is not an exceptional reoccupation. What is exceptional about it is that it happens to lie in direct route of multiple proposed tar sands and fracked gas pipelines, including three projects that have failed to receive consent from the Unist’ot’en. These three pipelines are the currently halted Northern Gateway Pipeline funded by Enbridge, and the in-progress Pacific Trails Pipeline funded by Chevron as well as the Coastal GasLink Pipeline funded by TC Energy.

Until last week, TC Energy was known as TransCanada. They changed their name in the midst of widespread criticism and ongoing Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions across the world. Coastal GasLink/TC Energy has been constructing a 670 kilometer liquified natural gas (LNG) pipeline that would carry fracked gas from Dawson Creek, BC to the coastal town of Kitimat, where LNG Canada’s processing plant would be located.

The permits for Coastal GasLink’s LNG pipeline were approved by the BC government under the Liberals. More recently, the permits were enforced by the BC government under the New Democrat Party (NDP), Canada’s party of labor which, like New Labour in the UK, has adopted “third way” neoliberal policies and has led multiple attacks on Indigenous sovereignty and land defense movements when it has been in power in BC.

Whether at the hands of the Liberals or the NDP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the paramilitary police force that has attacked Indigenous nations since the time of Canadian Confederation. The RCMP was initially founded in order to wage war against Métis, Cree, and allied non-Natives during the anti-colonial and anti-capitalist Red River Resistances in the 1870s and 80s. The RCMP was born through Indian Wars, and it continues to thrive on them.

In the context of unceded land, colonial resource extraction and transportation, and a paramilitary police force founded through Indian Wars, the Wet’suwet’en struggle is a key political and symbolic battleground for a militant Indigenous movement. Wet’suwet’en is not negotiating a treaty with BC; they are actively reoccupying traditional territories without colonial “permission.”

This is a profound act of Indigenous sovereignty, and it is fitting that it would be occurring in BC. Although Canada itself has never fully solved its “Indian problem,” BC’s lack of treaties is a glaring admission of violent colonial occupation.

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Judge asks B.C. attorney general to intercede in Unist'ot'en arrests

B.C.'s attorney general has been asked to intervene after the controversial arrests of 14 people in a dispute between an LNG pipeline company and Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.

The intervention request came Monday from a B.C. Supreme Court judge in Prince George. Madame Justice Church agreed with a defence application, stating it is in the "public interest to invite the Crown to intercede."

The ruling came as most of the 14 people arrested by RCMP last month made their first appearance in court. 

All are facing contempt proceedings for defying a court order while blocking Coastal GasLink's access to a potential pipeline route.

'Asserting jurisdiction'

A dozen of those arrested filed quietly into a large court room in Prince George on Monday. Several carried eagle feathers. Molly Wickham, a spokesperson for the Gidimt'en​ group, held a talking stick.

Wickham welcomed the referral to the Crown.

"The bigger issue has to do with our hereditary system and with government and industry asserting jurisdiction on our territories," she said outside court.

"They have to look at the evidence and see if they want to proceed with these charges. It may not be in the public interest."

The case has been adjourned until April 15 to give the attorney general time to consider the matter.

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'We're showing our presence': Group marches in Halifax for Indigenous rights

The Macdonald Bridge in Halifax was closed to traffic for about an hour Saturday afternoon — but it didn't mean the bridge was quiet.

About 100 people took part in an Indigenous rights march, walking from Dartmouth to Halifax over the bridge.

"You can take up the whole road," organizer Suzanne Patles called out to the crowd, who cheered and spread out in response.

The group sang songs, played drums and chanted loudly: "Water is life, respect Indigenous rights."

Several people donned purple T-shirts with the words "Stop violence against Indigenous women," while others carried banners and signs which read "Indigenous rights matter" and "No justice on stolen land."

Many of the signs were in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, where 14 people were arrested last month for protesting a planned natural gas pipeline in British Columbia.

Members of the Wet'suwet'en Nation have also alleged that Coastal GasLink has unnecessarily destroyed traplines and bulldozed tents on their land....


Statement on Reconciliation Process Between Province and Office of the Wet'suwet'en


"The Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs, Premier John Hogan and Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation have issued the following statement to mark the start of a new reconciliation process...To support this work, the Province has appointed Murray Rankin as BC's representative to help guide and design the Process between the Province and the Office of the Wet'suwet'en..."


Murray Rankin


"Murray Rankin is a Canadian politician who is a member of Parliament for the New Democratic Party...In 1990, Rankin joined up with friend Joseph Arvay to become managing partner for the boutique law firm Arvay Finlay. In 1994, Murray Rankin was appointed by Premier Mike Harcourt as the lead treaty negotiator for the Province of British Columbia. As treaty negotiator for the Province of British Columbia, Rankin negotiated the first agreement in principle under the auspices of the BC Treaty Commnission with the Sechelt Indian Band. He also represented the Blueberry River First Nation in the negotiation of the first economics benefit agreement relating to national resource revenues in British Columbia..."


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B.C. Oil and Gas Commission warns Coastal GasLink over pipeline construction

Coastal GasLink must submit a notice of construction at least 48 hours before it starts work under its permit to build a pipeline that is opposed by some members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission said.

The commission has warned the Calgary-based company after it received complaints from the Office of the Wet’suwet’en that alleged that Coastal GasLink engaged in construction without an archaeological impact assessment and also destroyed traplines and tents.

A letter from the commission dated Thursday says Coastal GasLink didn’t submit the required notification on Jan. 22.

Hereditary Chief Na’Moks said the 48-hour notice won’t help because the process isn’t being followed.

“There is no consultation with us,” he said.

The ideal step would be to go back to the drawing board and talk to the proper rights and titles holders, he said, adding that it should be the province and federal governments consulting with the Indigenous people, not industry....


Unist'ot'en Do Not Consent To Man Camps Increasing Violence Against Our Women


"Coastal Gaslink (CGL) is establishing a proposed industrial work camp (aka: man camp) site in Unist'ot'en Territory..."

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Following Illegal Bulldozing By CGL Supporters Responded With Solidarity Actions  At Multiple MLA Offices

Urban Indigenous Supporters and Allies rally outside Minister of the Environment George Heyman's office Feb 4 after staff lock doors. But he got the message.

Supporters have forced BC Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum, Michelle Mungall, to indefinitely close her Nelson office.

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Significant Archaeological Finding Pauses CGL Work on Unist’ot’en Territory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Significant Archaeological Finding Pauses CGL Work on Unist’ot’en Territory

On February 13th, 2019, two stone tools were recovered from the construction site of Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd.’s (CGL) proposed man camp, Site 9A, marking a significant archaeological discovery that indicates a longstanding and continued tie between Wet’suwet’en people and their ancestral territories. Coastal GasLink is legally obligated to stop work in order for a full archaeological assessment to be conducted.

Presently, Coastal GasLink has paused work on this archaeological site, but has not indicated to the Unist’ot’en if they intend to cease work until they are compliant with existing Canadian laws.

In the absence of an adequate Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA), and continued breaches of the conditions of Coastal GasLink’s permits, the Unist’ot’en clan has been combing Site 9A for evidence of cultural use. This is made possible by the heavy machinery turning up the forest floor and exposing potential archaeological features and artifacts.

Two Unist’ot’en supporters with limited archaeological knowledge conducted a pedestrian survey comprising about a quarter of the worksite. A complete biface stone tool was recovered alongside a partial base fragment of a stem point. Archaeologists from the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. Chelsey G. Armstrong and her colleagues as well as Dr. Chris Springer estimate that the stem point is likely associated with the Shuswap Horizon dating between 3500-2400 years before present...

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Archaeology Branch and BCOGC Trespass on Unist’ot’en Territory, Steal Artifacts

On Friday, February 15, inspectors from the Archaeology Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations along with the BC Oil and Gas Commission trespassed on Unist’ot’en yintah (territory). They did not stop to go through the required Free, Prior and Informed Consent protocol, and thus had no consent to enter the territory. At no point did they inform Unist’ot’en spokespeople or chiefs of their presence or intentions. We were not able to witness their inspection of the site or notify professional archaeologists advising us on this matter. According to a member of the police Division Liaison Team,

While unattended and unobserved by Unist’ot’en members and hereditary chiefs, they removed stone tools that Unist’ot’en supporters had left in situ. They trespassed, tampered with an archaeological site, and stole gifts from the ancestors of this territory....