UNIST’OT’EN UNITED AS RCMP ADVANCE
Police move toward last Wet’suwet’en camp as clan members continue protest
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
RCMP liason unit members speak Monday with Gidimt’en hereditary Chief Madeek at a reinforced checkpoint his people erected in Wet’suwet’en territory.