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Unistoten Camp, BC, Canada


Description:

On the Beautiful Widzin Kwa (Morice River): The Grassroots Wet'suwet'en people are fighting to stop the onslaught of 7 multi-billion dollar proposed pipeline projects from entering their unceded and occupied lands.

These proposed pipelines are part of an 'energy corridor' aiming to connect Tar Sands and shale gas extraction projects with ports and LNG processing terminals in Kitimat and Prince Rupert on BC's west coast. Three companies: Kinder Morgan, Pembina Pipelines, and Endbridge Inc., each propose dual pipelines to transport not only dirty bitumen, but also condensate as a diluent, along with a cocktail of heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and poisons from the extraction and slurry process. Several shale gas pipelines are also proposed to run from Summit Lake and the Horn River Basin, fracking fields in northeastern BC's Montney Shale Formation.

The first threat to Wet'suwet'en territory was the Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP), part of the Kitimat LNG project , which intends to transport shale gas through a 42' diameter bidirectional pipeline. Chevron and Woodside hold 50% each of the Kitimat LNG project. PTP is the intended trailblazer of the prospective 'energy corridor,' and plans dual pipelines to stretch 463km from BC's fracking fields, all the way to the Douglas Channel on the west coast. It would initially carry 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

Coastal GasLink is another shale gas pipeline LNG terminal project proposal. The project is owned by a consortium of Companies called LNG Canada led by Shell Canada Limited, including Mitsubishi Corporation, KoreaGas (KOGAS), and Petrochina.  TransCanada corporation, the same company trying to force through the notorious Keystone XL Pipeline, is contracted by LNG Canada to build Coastal GasLink. Early January 2016, the consortium got its permit to build a liquefied natural gas export facility in Kitimat together with a 40-years export licence.

To stop the PNP, the first pipeline slated to be built, in its path, a log cabin, which was started in 2010, was finally completed in July of 2012, directly on the GPS centerline of the proposed pipeline corridors, at Talbits Kwah at Gosnell Creek and Wedzin Kwah (Morice River which is a tributary to the Skeena and Bulkley River).  The cabin is now a full time home and a resistance community where a grassroots Wet'suwet'en family lives sustainably off their ancestral lands while honouring their responsibility to protect the earth. In Dec. 2012, the clan evicted surveyors working on the Apache Canada's Pacific Trails Pipeline from their territory, declaring that they were trespassing, they also seized equipment and set up a roadblock against all pipeline activity. The clan has also built a traditional pit-house and Healing Lodge, along the pipeline route and they hold annual action camps to train activists in direct action. As a result of the unsanctioned PTP work on Unist'ot'en yintah, an active checkpoint at the entrance to the territory was set up. All visitors upon arrival wishing to enter the territory, must introduce themselves and answer questions before being granted permission to enter. This is part of a Free Prior and Informed Consent Protocol, a re-actualization of natural law and the implementation of a new emancipatory standard of autonomy within first nations territories. In BC, First Nations have never signed any treaties and thus defend their right to exercise sovereignty over their lands.

The Unis'tot'en (C'ihlts'ehkhyu / Big Frog Clan) are the original Wet'suwet'en distinct to the lands of the Wet'suwet'en. The Unis'tot'en recent history includes taking action to protect their lands from Lions Gate Metals. They have also defended the land against clear cutting by the logging company Canfor, who built the world's largest sawmill at the forest service road entrance that leads into Wet'suwet'en territory.

Impressed by the promise of job opportunities, 16 Native Nations whose territory is situated along the proposed PTP signed the First Nations Limited Partnership Agreement (FNLP) with Chevron. One of the outcomes of such treaty is the creation in 2010 of the PTP ASEP Training Society, responsible for the employment of Native communities’ members in the oil and gas mega-infrastructures. Such developments bring to light the current divide among Native American communities from British Columbia State regarding the fossil fuels industries. The divide has actually spread nation-wide.

"The camp has grown to a whole community in resistance. Volunteers helped build a permaculture garden, a solar powered mini-grid, and a healing lodge/cultural centre, under the guidance of hereditary indigenous leadership to help create a working vision for future generations" [2].

The Wet'suwewt'en elected chief and council approved the CGL pipeline, but the hereditary chiefs opposed. The 13 hereditary chiefs argue that the elected chief only has jurisdiction over the band’s reserves, and that hereditary chiefs retain jurisdiction over the traditional territory where the checkpoint and camps are located [1].

After successfully slowing, stopping or rerouting all proposed pipelines projects, in January 2019, CGL, a subsidiary of TransCanada, filed for an injunction to be able to access and start clearing land for the construction of the CGL pipeline. The BC Supreme court granted the injunction. RCMP were brought in to remove Gitemden check point. Many land defenders were arrested. CGL is now working in Unist'ot'en territory.

The community at the Unist'ot'en camp remain and continue to resist and organize and rally support. This is not over.

Timeline:

1997: Delgamuukw Supreme Court Case:

Landmark decision recognizing that aboriginal title is not extinguished in the areas claimed by Wet’suwet’en and Gixtsan. This case sets criteria for future rulings on aboriginal title. Plaintiffs in the case are all hereditary chiefs [2].

2007: Interest and Use study on proposed PTP project: Wet’suwet’en express will to prevent all pipelines [2].

2008: Decision by all Wet’suwet’en Clans to unanimously opt out of the BC Treaty Process, asserting rights and title on ancient jurisdiction belonging to them

April 1, 2009: Checkpoint established at Unist'ot'en camp to block access to territory at the bridge [1].

2010: Construction begins on log cabin, directly on the exact location of the proposed pipeline corridors [2].

December 2011: Unist’ot’en supports their grassroots neighbors, the Gitxsan nation, who blocked entry to their treaty office to contest a deal with Enbridge [2].

2012: Speaking tours educate wider audiences on Unist’ot’en resistance to fracking and tarsands expansion [2].

August 2012:  3rd Annual Unist’ot’en Action Camp: 200+ people attend a 5 day series of educational workshops, from all over Turtle Island and beyond [2].

2013: Construction of traditional Pithouse on the territory [2].

2014: Construction of bunkhouse for visitors [2].

2015: Construction begins on the Healing Centre [2].

September 3, 2015: "Hereditary chiefs from all five clans, and Office of the Wet’suwet’en staff, visit camp at the Wedzin Kwa. They assert their support for Unist’ot’en and affirm their position being NO to ALL pipelines" [2].

November 2018: Coastal GasLink applied for an injunction [1].

January 4, 2019: Injunction expanded to include Gitemden Checkpoint [1].

January 7, 2019: RCMP arrive to remove check point. 14 people were arrested and taken to Houston, B.C. [1]. RCMP blocked road from being accessed by media and shut off internet access at the Gitemden checkpoint

January 8, 2019: Support rallies mobilized in 30 cities [1].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Unistoten Camp, BC, Canada
Country:Canada
State or province:British Columbia
Location of conflict:Houston
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Shale gas fracking
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP):

The $1-billion Pacific Trails Pipeline would deliver natural gas from northern B.C. and Alberta to the LNG terminal for shipment overseas. Kitimat, the future home of an Apache Canada liquefied natural gas plant and the tanker port for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. pipeline which would transport fracked gas from northeastern BC to the Pacific Coast.

Shell Canada Limited

Mitsubishi Corporation

KoreaGas (KOGAS)

Petrochina

All are involved as members of the LNG Canada consortium

Coastal Gas Link (CGL Pipeline):

Approximately 670 kilometres in length, the Coastal GasLink pipeline would deliver natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to the proposed LNG Canada facility near Kitimat, B.C. After Coastal GasLink delivers the natural gas to a facility near Kitimat, LNG Canada will prepare it for export to global markets by converting the gas to a liquefied state (LNG).

The CGL project is owned by TransCanada, which operates one of North America’s largest natural gas pipeline networks – 91,500 kilometres.

Project area:463 km long pipeline
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2012
Company names or state enterprises:Apache Corp.
EnCana Corp from Canada
EOG Resources
from United States of America
Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands
Shell Canada Limited from Canada
Mitsubishi Corp. from Japan
Korean Gas Corporation from Republic of Korea
LNG Canada consortium from Canada
Coastal Gas Link from Canada - Hold the contract to build the CGL pipeline
TransCanada from Canada - Proponents of Coastal Gas Link
Relevant government actors:BC Provincial Government
BC Courts
Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs
RCMP
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Algonquins of Barriere Lake, Anishinabek Oshkimaadiziig Unity Camp, Anti-Colonial Solidarity Collective-Montreal, Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) Land Defenders, Boreal Forest Network, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group, Climate Justice Research/Action (Science for Peace), Council of Canadians, Deep Green Resistance, Independent Jewish Voices-Toronto, Indigenous Action Movement, Indigenous Defenders of the Land Network, Indigenous Environmental Network, Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement-Ottawa, Indigenous People’s Solidarity Movement-Winnipeg, Indigenous Reoccupation of Ancestral Lands- Ancestral Pride Ahousaht Sovereign Territory, Indigenous Sovereignty and Solidarity Network-Toronto, International League of People’s Struggles-Canada, Leadnow, Média Recherche Action, Mining Justice Alliance, Mother Earth Justice Advocates, Native Youth Movement, No One Is Illegal-Toronto, No One Is Illegal-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories, Rising Tide-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories, Rising Tide-Toronto, ShitHarperDid, Sierra Club-Prairie Chapter, Stop the Pave, Streams of Justice, Submedia.tv, Tadamon, Toronto Bolivia Solidarity, Truth Fool, Turning the Tide Bookstore, Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network.

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Women
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Media based activism/alternative media
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Development of a network/collective action
Land occupation
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Blockades
Development of alternative proposals
Re-occupation of their territory, building a traditional pithouse and Healing Lodge on the pipeline route. Action camps to train activists.
Public campaigns
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Official complaint letters and petitions
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Other environmental related diseases, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Other Health impactsMan camp will be built on territory, raising risks of sexual assault.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession

Outcome

Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Fostering a culture of peace
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
The PTP pipeline route had been redirected. The Northern gateway pipelines project was cancelled in 2016.
However, as of February 2019, workers for the Coastal Gas Link pipeline are on Unsit'ot'en territory clearing land for the construction of the pipeline.
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Project cancelled
Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of alternatives:The Unistoten work in solidarity with neighbouring communities who want to stop all pipelines, reverse climate change, shut down tar sands and hydrofracturing for shale gas, and also communities who see through the false solutions to climate change via Carbon Marketing, Carbon, Boreal and Biological Offsets and REDDs in 3rd World Countries.
They advocate a system of natural Laws that are based on their Indigenous Laws or Responsibilities, including Responsibilities to ourselves, our families, and the lands and waters we have relationships with. The project also includes a permaculture garden and attempts to use sustainable energy generation methods using junk technology and water and wind powered energy.
They have built a large Healing Lodge. Espousing their message "Heal the People, Heal the Land", the Healing Lodge offers experience of healing to their community members "to live on the land and have a connection with the natural world and our teachings... It is a chance to return to some of our traditional teachings and land-based wellness practices of our ancestors".
The leadership at Unist'ot'en helped forge the Sacred Fire Network to coordinate and share information and resources between many Indigenous front lines in BC.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Several proposed pipeline projects has been diverted or cancelled, many action camps have been held successfully with throusands of participants. The camp is a powerful symbol for a movement that is not based on Not in My Backyard concerns nor is simply resistance to a pipeline and the defense of a territory, but based on the building and rebuilding of a radical alternative and traditional living. The philosophy espoused by the clan goes beyond a rights-based discourse to one of responsibility that has the potential to be truly transcendent.
This has fully been a win for environmental justice for the last decade. However in January 2019, CGL filed for an injunction to enter Unist'ot'en territory. The injunction was granted, and after fierce resistance of incursion by the RCMP by Wet'suwewt'en land defenders and supporters, CGL workers are now beginning construction work in the territory. This struggle has inspired support from around the world

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Delgamuukw Decision on Native land entitlements, based on a court case brought by the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Nations in 1984.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

A lay Persons Guide to Delgamuukw
http://www.bctreaty.net/files_3/pdf_documents/delgamuukw.pdf

Developing Oil and Gas Resources On or Near Indigenous Lands in Canada: An Overview of Laws, Treaties, Regulations and Agreements, Laura Wright, Jerry P. White, August 2012
http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1089&context=iipj

Chevron Canada Fact Sheet
http://www.chevron.com/documents/pdf/canadafactsheet.pdf

First Nations (PTP) Group Limited Partnership (FNLP), Chevron and Woodside Petroleum initiative, May 2015
http://havlikmetcs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/FNLP-Backgrounder-May-12-2015-FINAL.pdf

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Unistoten pages
http://unistotencamp.wordpress.com/

Earth First
http://onkwehonwerising.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/standing-in-the-way-the-unistoten-resist-ecocidal-carbon-corridor/

Unist'ot'en Camp facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/unistoten?fref=ts

B.C. first nation members evict pipeline surveyors, set up road block, The Globe and Mail, 22/11/2012
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-first-nation-members-evict-pipeline-surveyors-set-up-road-block/article5547325/

Pacific Trail Pipeline, Chevron official web page
http://www.chevron.ca/our-businesses/kitimat-lng/pacific-trail-pipeline

The PTP Aboriginal Skills to Employment Partnership (PTP ASEP), outcome from Chrevon’s First Nations Limited Partnership Agreement
http://www.ptpasep.ca/

Native leaders divided on oil-sands pipelines, The Globe and mail, 30/09/2015
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/indigenous-leaders-divided-on-oil-sands-pipelines/article26604248/

LNG Canada gets permit for export facility in Kitimat, B.C., The Globe and Mail, 05/01/2016
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/shell-led-joint-venture-obtains-key-permit-for-lng-facility-in-kitimat-bc/article28024982/

LNG Canada Project overview Official webpage
http://lngcanada.ca/the-project/overview

Major Projects, KITIMAT
http://www.kitimat.ca/EN/main/business/invest-in-kitimat/major-projects.html

OFFICE OF THE WET’SUWET’EN POSITION ON PACIFIC TRAILS PIPELINE
http://www.wetsuweten.com/media-centre/news/office-of-the-wetsuweten-position-on-pacific-trails-pipeline

[1] (Ducklow, 2019) Nine Things You Need to Know about the Unist’ot’en Blockade. The Tyee.
https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2019/01/08/LNG-Pipeline-Unistoten-Blockade/

[2] Heal the People, Heal the Land. Unist'ot'en Zine.
http://unistoten.camp/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/UZINE_View.pdf

Indigenous Canadians take leading role in battle against tar sands pipeline, J. Stonington, The Guardian, 18/10/2015
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/18/canada-indigenous-first-nations-tar-sands-pipeline-oil

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

UnistotenCamp You Tube channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/UnistotenCamp

The Action Camp, Stop the flows, August 2012
http://stoptheflows.tumblr.com/

Imagen del plan preliminario de la pipeline (chevron website)
http://www.chevron.ca/sfimages/default-source/default-album/ptp-map-dec6-2014.jpg?sfvrsn=0

Other documents

Unist’ot’en Camp human chain The Unist’ot’en Camp, in the path of TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline, Chevron’s Pacific Trail Pipeline and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline

Feunte: leveller.ca
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Unistoten_camp_canada.jpg

Healing Lodge at Unist'ot'en Camp (Photo Credit: Warner Naziel)

Sourced from (https://www.thestar.com/vancouver/2018/12/15/unistoten-camp-faces-temporary-injunction-over-pipeline-protest.html_
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Healing_Lodge.jpg

No Access without Consent Print by Annie Banks. Sourced from (http://unistoten.camp/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/UZINE_View.pdf)
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/No_Access_without_Consent.JPG

Heavily armed RCMP officers arrive to shut down Indigenous checkpoints blocking CGL natural gas pipeline. Photo by Michael Toledano. Sourced from (https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2019/01/08/LNG-Pipeline-Unistoten-Blockade/)
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/RCMP_in_Unist_ot_en_territory.jpg

Unist'ot'en Camp Residents and supporters of the Unist'ot'en Camp have sent a loud and clear message to pipeline developers. Photo courtesy of Unist'ot'en Camp.

Sourced from: https://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/what-you-need-know-about-unistoten-pipeline-standoff
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/unistotencamp.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:Leah Temper & Jen Gobby
Last update10/04/2019

Images

 

Unist’ot’en Camp human chain

The Unist’ot’en Camp, in the path of TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline, Chevron’s Pacific Trail Pipeline and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline Feunte: leveller.ca

No Access without Consent

Print by Annie Banks. Sourced from (http://unistoten.camp/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/UZINE_View.pdf)

Unist'ot'en Camp

Residents and supporters of the Unist'ot'en Camp have sent a loud and clear message to pipeline developers. Photo courtesy of Unist'ot'en Camp. Sourced from: https://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/what-you-need-know-about-unistoten-pipeline-standoff

Healing Lodge at Unist'ot'en Camp

(Photo Credit: Warner Naziel) Sourced from (https://www.thestar.com/vancouver/2018/12/15/unistoten-camp-faces-temporary-injunction-over-pipeline-protest.html_

Heavily armed RCMP officers arrive to shut down Indigenous checkpoints blocking CGL natural gas pipeline.

Photo by Michael Toledano. Sourced from (https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2019/01/08/LNG-Pipeline-Unistoten-Blockade/)