Thousands take pledge to stand with Unist’ot’en as TransCanada applies for a court injunction to force through their pipeline
An injunction application and civil litigation filed by TransCanada Coastal GasLink aims to criminalize Unist’ot’en Camp and forcibly facilitate pipeline construction across unceded Wet’suwet’en territory. The pipeline company’s Supreme Court injunction hearing is scheduled to take place on Monday December 10th. TransCanada is applying for the Court to award them police support to build a pipeline and for financial compensation from Unist’ot’en clan leaders who have been thus far interrupting this pipeline construction by “occupying, obstructing, blocking, physically impeding or delaying access” to unceded Wet’suwet’en homelands.
Within hours of the Unist’ot’en releasing a call for support, hundreds of organizations and thousands of people signed a “pledge” to stand against this pipeline and the threat of court injunction. A mass movement against TransCanada’s (and Canada’s) pipeline is unfolding and what’s at stake is the climate, the politics of pipeline and oil and gas extraction, and, most urgently and critically, Wet’suwet’en sovereignty.
Unist’ot’en sovereignty under attack
The TransCanada injunction application singles out a couple of individual leaders in Unist’ot’en’s years-long struggle against the pipeline. “This is our house group’s work. It’s a shared vision and purpose,” stated Dr. Karla Tait, Unist’ot’en house group member. “The fact that this company can make a civil suit thinking that Freda Huson and Warner Naziel are the only ones standing in the way of their project is utterly ignorant and out of touch with all that we stand for as Unist’ot’en and as Indigenous people. It shows that they have no understanding and appreciation for the relationship that we have with our territories, and the relationships we have with one another as members of a house group, of a clan, of a nation.”
A statement from the Unist’ot’en Camp argues that this injunction application is illegitimate and illegal, even under Canada’s colonial law. It reads: “For more than a century, Canada’s federal and provincial governments have assumed ownership and jurisdiction of unceded lands without legal basis for doing so. Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa determined that Wet’suwet’en rights and title have never been extinguished across 22,000 square km of northern British Columbia. As plaintiffs in that 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.”
Decolonized healing practices threatened by police invasion
As unextinguished title holders, the Unist’ot’en are using their territories to live, survive, and to heal from hundreds of years of colonial violence. Their statement says: “The Unist’ot’en Camp is not a blockade, a protest, or a demonstration – it is a permanent, non-violent occupation of Unist’ot’en territory, established to protect our homelands from illegal industrial encroachments and to preserve a space for our community to heal from the violence of colonization.”
This healing work includes a 3-storey healing centre that has hosted gatherings for Indigenous women and youth that include land-based addictions healing work. The Camp explains, “We see TransCanada’s legal threat, which requests that the RCMP enter our territory by force, as a direct challenge to the safety of our residents and an extension of the colonial violence from which we are trying to heal.”
“Our clan discussed this dream of a healing centre that would be land based, with all of the programming stemming from our teachings and our ancestral ways of wellness that are much more holistic and that recognize the impacts of colonization and of trauma on our youth and our families and communities,” stated Dr. Karla Tait.
“I see the projects proposed to run through our territory as a threat to us reclaiming and self-determining our own health and wellness,” stated Tait.
The Time is Now: Join the pledge to stand with Unist’ot’en
As evidenced by the statement signed by thousands of people and hundreds of groups, Unist’ot’en is not alone as they face down TransCanada, the Supreme Court of Canada, and, potentially, the RCMP. Due to the catastrophic and irreversible impact of fracking on water ways, land, food systems, and cultural practices, all of the Wet’suwet’en Clans have rejected the Coastal GasLink pipeline. According to Freda Huson, Unist’ot’en Hereditary Spokesperson, “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.”
To join-in and sign the pledge to defend Unist’ot’en, follow this link, and pass it on to your friends and networks. And because Unist’ot’en will need financial resources to continue this struggle, a group of tattoo artists has donated time and art that is being raffled off to those who make sustaining donations to Unist’ot’en. You can find the link to this raffle here.
We Pledge to Stand with Unist’ot’en
The Unist’ot’en camp, a permanent Indigenous re-occupation of Wet’suwet’en land in northern B.C., is currently on high alert. Coastal GasLink Pipeline has applied for an injunction, as well as served notice for a civil lawsuit to claim financial damages for “occupying, obstructing, blocking, physically impeding or delaying access” against Unist’ot’en camp on their own unceded territory. Instead of recognizing the collective hereditary leadership of the Wet’suwet’en, the legal notices target two individuals Freda Huson and Warner Naziel.
Coastal Gaslink’s application for an injunction will be heard on Monday December 10. Let Unist’ot’en Camp know they are not alone.
- WE COMMEND the courage and vision of Unist’ot’en Camp.
- WE ARE WATCHING across the province, country and internationally.
- WE DENOUNCE any attempt by Coastal GasLink Pipeline, federal government, provincial government or RCMP to interfere in the rights of the Unist’ot’en to occupy, manage or maintain their lands.
- WE DEMAND that any and all actions taken by the federal and provincial government, industry, and policing agencies must be consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Anuk Nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en laws) and collective Title.
- WE PLEDGE support to the frontline land defenders of Unist’ot’en Camp and affirm the collective hereditary governance of the Wet’suwet’en who are enforcing Wet’suwet’en laws on their unceded lands.