I just got home from a quick ten-day trip to Wet'suwet'en territory in response to an urgent call for support. A couple of weeks ago a small group of Wet'suwet'en land defenders used a trailer and a school bus to block a road and occupy a site where pipeline company Coastal Gaslink is preparing to drill under the headwaters of the Wedzin Kwa, a pristine glacier-fed river that feeds 22,000 sq km of unceded Wet'suwet'en territory. RCMP were soon on the scene and violently arrested two people (content warning!). But the land defenders hung on and the police retreated without managing to dismantle the camp.
I arrived a day or two later, just in time for national Truth and Reconciliation Day. No police showed up at the camp on that day. Instead, hereditary chiefs, leaders, community members and children representing all five Wet'suwet'en clans came to the site to show their support and speak powerful words about the pain caused by residential schools and the connection between the theft of children and the theft of land. It was a beautiful event. You can see some highlights in this video.
Over the next week, more infrastructure was built up around the camp, including barricades, structures where people could lock down, a log cabin and a teepee. More supporters arrived, some coming from Fairy Creek bringing expertise in creative tactics of nonviolent resistance.
It was an intense experience that stretched me in many ways. It was also very moving and powerful to see such beautiful resistance to the forces of fossil fuel capital and colonialism that are threatening not just Wet'suwet'en land but the life systems that all of us depend upon. The pipeline is being built to carry liquid natural gas to the coast. The extraction, transportation, and consumption of natural gas releases both CO2 and methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than CO2.
Police have been visiting the camp almost daily, harassing and threatening people, pouring out drinking water and clearly making preparations for a major invasion that could happen any day. If you want to follow what's happening, the camp posts daily video updates on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and at https://www.yintahaccess.com/videos.
This is also a good article summarizing what's happening
Molly Wickham--her Wet'suwet'en name is Sleydo--sends her thank you to the community in Winnipeg for supporting the struggle. And the hereditary chiefs and Wet'suwet'en community members who visited the site also expressed their gratitude.
If you want to support this struggle, there's a snap rally in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en land defenders tomorrow (Wednesday Oct 13) at 4:30 PM in front of the RCMP building at 1091 Portage Ave (Facebook link here) as part of a week of solidarity actions.
- Josiah Neufeldt, MEJC volunteer organizer