Unist’ot’en is in court June 12-14 and urgently needs your support!

Coastal Gas Link has applied for an interlocutory — effectively a permanent injunction — allowing encroachment on Unist’ot’en traditional territory at Wedzin Kwa (Morice River) in northern BC, to make way for the construction of a fracked gas pipeline and a “man camp” to house workers.

Unist’ot’en oppose both the injunction and the pipeline.  They are asking for urgent assistance from allies so they can push back against industry occupation on their lands.  

 

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The proposed pipeline is a threat to a healthy watershed with pure water and  abundant plant and animal populations, on which the community depends. In opposing Coastal Gas Link and its injunction, the Unist’ot’en are protecting their traditional hunting, trapping, and fishing rights, and ensuring that the natural beauty and bounty of their territory will be enjoyed for generations to come.



 

 

 

 

Canada’s highest court has affirmed that the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have jurisdiction over their 22,000 square kilometres of territory. This video explains Wet’suwet’en governance and why chiefs oppose pipelines.

More about the Unist’ot’en Case

If granted, Coastal Gas Link’s  injunction would prevent Unist’ot’en members from carrying out traditional activities – such as trapping, gathering and healing ceremonies – on Unist’ot’en land.   Coastal Gas Link would be permitted to (drill, build roads, erect construction camps and import hundreds of migrant workers) to build a fracked gas  pipeline. The Unist’ot’en (“people of the headwaters”) are one of the 12 House groups of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, whose inherent rights on the land were established in the groundbreaking Delgamuukw Supreme Court of Canada judgment, are united in opposing the pipeline. This case seeks to uphold both Canadian and Indigenous law.


“Our people’s belief is that we are part of the land. The land is not separate from us. The land sustains us. And if we don’t take care of her, she won’t be able to sustain us, and we as a generation of people will die.”

Freda Huson, Unist'ot'en Hereditary Spokesperson

Since 2010, the Unist’ot’en have operated a cultural camp at Wedzin Kwa in order to reclaim land-based practices and revitalize traditional ways. The camp features a traditional pithouse, permaculture gardens, and a Healing Centre that supports people in recovery.  

Members of the community report that Coastal Gas Link, BC and Canada have responded to opposition to the fracked gas pipeline project by consistently attempting to ignore and bypass the authority of Wet’suwet’en chiefs, conducting “consultations” with individuals who have no standing to represent the Nation. In December 2018, Coastal Gas Link asked the BC Supreme Court for an injunction ordering removal of a a gate that the Unist’ot’en had installed on the site to protect the camp and prevent encroachment on the territory in accordance with Wet’suwet’en laws. In its arguments to the Supreme Court, the company stated that it had obtained all the necessary permits – failing to mention the fact that it had not undergone a federal regulatory review or obtained any federal permits.

Since then, Coastal Gas Link has used its own security forces and the RCMP to prevent the Unist’ot’en from following their law and exercising their Indigenous rights. Members of these forces have arrested Unist’ot’en members, destroyed a trapline, and threatened Healing Centre clients and matriarchs attempting to gather traditional foods,  access traplines and conduct ceremony. They have also bulldozed a heritage site containing Wet’suwet’en artifacts.


“The Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision determined that Wet’suwet’en rights and title have never been extinguished across 22,000 km2 of British Columbia. As plaintiffs in the court case, and title holders on our land, we are exercising our right to exclusive use and occupation of land, and our right to determine its use. We ask for your support in our fight to have our Aboriginal title upheld, and to keep our lands healthy, clean, and Wet’suwet’en.”

Wet'suwet'en, Hereditary Chiefs

About the pipeline: Coastal Gas Link is proposing a 670-km pipeline carrying fracked gas from Dawson Creek to a proposed LNG facility in Kitimat. The pipeline is owned by  TransCanada, the same corporation funding the Keystone XL and Energy East Pipeline projects.

Coastal Gas Link is part of a recently-approved $40 billion LNG Canada project which is the single largest private sector investment in Canadian history. The Malaysian company Petronas, which abandoned its own Pacific NorthWest LNG project when faced with First Nations opposition (link to victories page), has a 25% stake in LNG Canada.

According to the Pembina Institute, LNG Canada’s carbon footprint would be 8.6 million tonnes (Mt) by 2030, making it impossible to achieve even the targets mandated BC’s recently-weakened climate legislation. Another concern is the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) used to obtain the gas, which pollutes groundwater and causes large amounts of methane to escape into the atmosphere, which has a serious impact on our climate and public health. The pipeline will cross hundreds of salmon-bearing streams, terminating in an LNG liquefaction and export facility in the Skeena River estuary.


“We honored the terms of the injunction…we honored all the terms of the agreements we’ve made…We are witnessing police break all of the agreements they have made with our chiefs, watching them actively protecting CGL and its contractors as they violate the Wildlife Act and the conditions of their permits, and watching the agencies responsible for enforcing these conditions do nothing…Coastal Gaslink is breaking all their own Canadian laws while we are upholding Wet’suwet’en laws and responsibilities to the land.”

Freda Huson, Unist'ot'en Spokesperson

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