Rally planned to­day to sup­port Unist’ot’en Camp

The Prince George Citizen - - Local/Weather - Frank PEEBLES Ci­ti­zen staff fpee­[email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

A rally is be­ing held in Prince Ge­orge this morn­ing on be­half of a ru­ral Abo­rig­i­nal group about a four-hour drive to the west.

The res­i­dents of the Unist’ot’en Camp – a sprawl­ing wilder­ness re­gion head­quar­tered at the in­ter­sec­tion of Wedzin Kwah and Tal­bits Kwah (the Morice River and Gos­nell Creek, re­spec­tively) south­west of Hous­ton and north­east of Morice Lake – have for years mounted a block­ade of in­dus­trial ac­tiv­i­ties that do not con­form to their in­ter­ests.

A re­cent court in­junc­tion by one of those in­dus­trial pro­po­nents, Coastal Gaslink (a pipe­line that would move nat­u­ral gas from ex­trac­tion sources near Daw­son Creek to the pro­posed LNG Canada ship­ping plant at Kiti­mat), would al­low their work to take its next steps.

A court hear­ing on the mat­ter is sched­uled for Mon­day.

A re­sponse rally is set for Prince Ge­orge in sup­port of the Unist’ot’en Camp.

“These le­gal chal­lenges ig­nore the ju­ris­dic­tion and au­thor­ity of hered­i­tary chiefs and a feast sys­tem of gover­nance, which was rec­og­nized in the 1997 Deglamuukw-Gis­day’wa court case,” said a writ­ten state­ment is­sued by Prince Ge­orge rally or­ga­niz­ers.

“All Wet’suwet’en Clans have re­jected the Coastal GasLink pipe­line.”

The state­ment ex­plained that Coastal GasLink Pipe­line Ltd. has “ap­plied for an in­junc­tion and served no­tice for a civil law­suit, seek­ing an ‘in­terim, in­ter­locu­tory or per­ma­nent in­junc­tion’ and fi­nan­cial dam­ages for ‘oc­cu­py­ing, ob­struct­ing, block­ing, phys­i­cally im­ped­ing or de­lay­ing ac­cess’ to un­ceded ter­ri­tory.”

The com­pany has suc­ceeded in gain­ing the sup­port of the elected Wet’suwet’en First Na­tion lead­ers, on whose tra­di­tional ater­ri­tory the project crosses at that point but the Unist’ot’en Camp res­i­dents claim a deeper ju­ris­dic­tion over that par­tic­u­lar tract of land.

“The Unist’ot’en home­stead is not a protest or demon­stra­tion,” said a writ­ten state­ment from the Abo­rig­i­nal group.

“Our clan is oc­cu­py­ing and us­ing our tra­di­tional ter­ri­tory as it has for cen­turies. Our free prior and in­formed con­sent pro­to­col is in place at the en­trance of our ter­ri­tory as an ex­pres­sion of our ju­ris­dic­tion and our in­her­ent right to both give and refuse con­sent. Our home­stead is a peace­ful ex­pres­sion of our con­nec­tion to our ter­ri­tory. It is also an ex­am­ple of the con­tin­u­ous use and oc­cu­pa­tion of our ter­ri­tory by our clan. Our tra­di­tional struc­tures of gover­nance con­tinue to dic­tate the proper use of and ac­cess to our lands and water.”

The rally is set for the Prince Ge­orge Court­house at 9 a.m. to­day.

It in­cludes a call for fi­nan­cial aid to mount a le­gal de­fense. In­for­ma­tion is avail­able at the Unist’ot’en Camp web­site and the rally’s event page on Facebook.

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