UNIST’OT’EN UNITED AS RCMP AD­VANCE

Po­lice move to­ward last Wet’suwet’en camp as clan mem­bers con­tinue protest

StarMetro Vancouver - - COVER STORY - Jesse Win­ter and Per­rin Grauer More at thes­tar.com/van­cou­ver

MORICE WEST FOR­EST SER­VICE ROAD, B.c.—af­ter Mon­day’s chaotic re­treat from the Gidimt’en check­point, the mood Tuesday at the Unist’ot’en camp heal­ing lodge was sub­dued and tense. Win­dows were cov­ered with blan­kets.

On the bridge nearby, a gate was topped with barbed wire and mon­i­tored by a se­cu­rity cam­era as Unist’ot’en clan mem­bers awaited the in­evitable re­turn of po­lice. The RCMP are en­forc­ing an in­junc­tion au­tho­riz­ing them to clear the way for con­struc­tion of a nat­u­ral-gas pipe­line through Wet’suwet’en ter­ri­tory.

Around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, spot­ters along the log­ging road re­ported po­lice were on the move again, as a he­li­copter took off from an RCMP check­point and po­lice were con­fer­ring with what looked like con­trac­tors with trucks.

“I love wak­ing up to the sound of a he­li­copter,” said one of the Wet’suwet’en land de­fend­ers, clutch­ing a mug of hot cof­fee. An­other rushed to film the air­craft.

Ex­hausted af­ter Mon­day’s events, peo­ple spent the night sleep­ing on mats laid out over the floors of the three-storey build­ing.

By the end of the pre­vi­ous day’s clash at the Gidimt’en check­point, po­lice had ar­rested 14, while oth­ers fled down the Morice West log­ging road to the Unist’ot’en camp, 44 kilo­me­tres out­side Hous­ton, B.C. One of the last to leave Gidimt’en check­point went by snow­ma­chine, felling trees in a bid to stop the po­lice ad­vance.

The Gidimt’en block­ade was the lat­est act of de­fi­ance in a Wet’suwet’en grass­roots up­ris­ing against the First Na­tion’s elected band coun­cil lead­er­ship and its de­ci­sion to ink a $13-mil­lion agree­ment to sup­port a pipe­line.

The pipe­line project by Tran­scanada sub­sidiary Coastal Gaslink will bring nat­u­ral gas through the area to the pro­posed LNG Canada fa­cil­ity in Kiti­mat, B.C.

Speak­ing in the li­brary of the Of­fice of the Wet’suwet’en in Smithers, B.C., Chief Na’moks donned his tra­di­tional re­galia ahead of a ral­lyto sup­port the Wet’suwet’en land de­fend­ers. He spoke fiercely of the con­nec­tion be­tween the land and Wet’suwet’en cul­ture, say­ing both his­tory and the fu­ture are at the heart of the cur­rent con­flict.

“It’s our land, it’s our peo­ple, it’s our air, it’s our wa­ter, it’s our fu­ture, it’s our past, it’s ev­ery­thing,” he said. “No money can buy this … We lose this, we lose our cul­ture.”

“IT’S OUR FU­TURE, IT’S OUR PAST, IT’S EV­ERY­THING.” Chief Na’moks

JESSE WIN­TER/STARMETRO VAN­COU­VER

RCMP lia­son unit mem­bers speak Mon­day with Gidimt’en hered­i­tary Chief Madeek at a re­in­forced check­point his peo­ple erected in Wet’suwet’en ter­ri­tory.

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