#365 Indigenous : Freda Huson, A Stronghold for her People
Freda Huson was awarded the “Right Livelihood” award — known as the alternative Nobel — “For her fearless dedication to reclaiming her people’s culture and defending their land against disastrous pipeline projects.”
Freda Huson is a chief (Dzeke ze’) from the Wet’suwet’en people in Canada who has been a leading advocate for Indigenous communities reconnecting with their land and reclaiming control, including deciding over construction projects such as pipelines running through their territories.
Realising the importance of living on ancestral land, in 2010 Huson moved into a log cabin on her people’s territory in Talbeetskwa, along the Morice River in British Columbia. Since then, she has been the coordinator of the Unist’ot’en camp that now includes a centre for people seeking to reconnect with the land and heal from colonial trauma.
Even in the face of overwhelming force by Canadian authorities, she remains on her ancestral land to protect it. Huson has demonstrated that the Indigenous struggle for environmental protection and land rights revolve around a much more profound battle for culture and a way of life.
The Unist’ot’en camp also emerged as the main gathering place for people opposing the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which would transport shale gas across British Columbia. In 2020 Canadian authorities carried out a raid on an established checkpoint leading to the camp, which set off nationwide protests. While Huson’s actions have set the pipeline project back by years, it still remains under construction.
Huson’s holistic approach to reclaiming Indigenous culture, land and rights stands in stark contrast to the horrendous crimes committed against Indigenous peoples in Canada, which have increasingly come to light in recent years. Huson has brought cultural renewal by leading Indigenous people back to their land.