Tag Archives: Unist’ot’en Camp

B.C. Bands Want Senior Leadership To Defuse RCMP Tensions With Unist’ot’en Camp


By Jorge Barrera | APTN National News

Four First Nation bands in British Columbia’s interior are looking to meet with the province’s main chiefs organizations in hopes of defusing a potential showdown between the RCMP and the members of the Unist’ot’en camp which has dug-in along the path of two proposed natural gas pipelines.

Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Karen Ogen said requests have been sent to the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Summit and the B.C. Assembly of First Nations to set up a meeting this week that would include representatives of the camp anchored by the Unist’ot’en clan, which is part of the Wet’suwet’en nation.

Ogen, along with Nee Tahi Buhn Chief Ray Morris, Burns Lake Band Chief Dan George, and Skin Tyee Nation Chief Rene Skin issued a statement Monday saying the Unist’ot’en cland did not speak for all the communities.

The Unist’ot’en camp has dug-in over the past five years in an area along the routes for Chevron’s proposed 480 kilometre Pacific Trail Pipeline and TransCanada’s 670 km Coastal GasLink pipeline. Both pipelines are slated to carry natural gas from the province’s interior to a proposed LNG facility in Kitimat, B.C., on the coast.

The camp sits roughly about 66 km south of Houston, B.C., and about 1,000 km north of Vancouver.

TransCanada filed a complaint with the RCMP after some of its workers were turned away at a Unist’ot’en check-point on a road leading to Coastal GasLink’s planned corridor. Workers with Chevron’s Pacific Trail Pipeline are said to be clearing a pipeline corridor about 2 km from the Unist’ot’en camp.

“We want to sit down with the Unist’ot’en, we need to find a way through this and at the same time, protect our environment,” said Ogen. “We are asking the leadership council to help us resolve it.”

Ogen they are looking for “balance” between the need for jobs and the environment.

UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Philip and BC AFN regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson travelled to the Unist’ot’en camp Monday to get a handle of the situation on the ground.

Tensions escalated last week after rumours emerged that the RCMP was planning to raid the camp. The RCMP tried to douse those rumours saying it had no plans to take down the camp and was operating in a neutral role maintaining the peace.

Ogen said TransCanada is considering re-routing its pipeline around the camp to prevent any potential conflict. She said there are about 20 First Nations along the Coastal GasLink route and the majority have signed onto the project.

Ogen said 16 First Nations have also signed onto the Pacific Trail Pipeline, including the Moricetown band which counts two Unist’ot’en clan members as band councillors, including Freda Huson, the main spokesperson for the camp, and her uncle Warner William, a clan leader.

“They have contractual obligations with Pacific Trail Pipeline they have to abide by,” said Ogen.

Huson said she recently ran for band councillor to educate the band leadership about Indigenous rights and to prevent the First Nation from signing onto the GasLink project. She said the agreement signed by the band with Pacific Trail does not apply to the Unist’ot’en’s unceded land.

“We are not treaty, we never ceded and surrendered our land,” she said.

Huson said GasLink won’t be allowed through, even if TransCanada tries to build around the camp.

“They are not coming through either way, no matter what,” she said. “They are just thinking it’s just this location. This location was chosen strategically,” said Huson. “Band councils only have jurisdiction like municipalities and our hereditary system does not give over authority to band councils.”

Huson said the clan leadership needs to discuss whether they would accept a meeting with the bands and the regional chiefs organizations.

She said Unist’ot’en representatives also have a meeting scheduled with the RCMP on Tuesday.

The RCMP has transmitted a position to First Nations leadership that the federal police believes the Unist’ot’en camp is blocking a public road which is a criminal offence. The RCMP believes this gives the police grounds to take down the camp without a court injunction.

Huson said the camp’s legal advice has determined the road to be a forest service road on Crown land. Huson said the road is blocked most of the winter by snow and the province makes no effort to keep it open year-round. Huson said the camp is not blocking the road as it has allowed tree-planters, some loggers and wilderness guides through its check-point.

Huson also said Supreme Court decisions on Aboriginal rights and title are on the side of the Unist’ot’en assertion of its sovereignty over the territory.

“I wrote a letter to (Chief) Karen Ogen asking why she has our territory on her map. How do you own these territories? We know this is ours, she doesn’t have any stories of her ancestors being out here trapping,” said Huson.

The Unist’ot’en camp is also in an area along the corridor for Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline which faces widespread resistance from First Nations in British Columbia.


UPDATE: RCMP Have No Intentions Of “Taking Down” Unist’ot’en Camp

RCMP say they will not take down any part of the Unist'ot'en Camp. Photo courtesy of Unist'ot'en Camp Facebook page.

RCMP say they will not take down any part of the Unist’ot’en Camp. Photo courtesy of Unist’ot’en Camp Facebook page.

Vancouver Observer

British Columbia RCMP have “no intention of taking down the Unist’ot’en Camp” according to an official press release issued early Friday evening.

The statement was made in response to rumours and media reports that residents of the northwestern B.C. encampment faced threat from an imminent “mass arrest operation” co-ordinated by RCMP near Smithers, Houston, and surrounding detachments.

The BC RCMP respects the rights of individuals to peacefully protest said Cpl. Janelle Shoihet, on behalf of North District RCMP in the release. To clarify, the BC RCMP has no intention of ‘taking down the camp’ set up by the Unist’ot’en. We value the Wet’suwet’en culture, the connection to the land and traditions being taught and passed on at the camp, and the importance of the camp to healing.

Despite what has been portrayed on social media, Shoihet emphasized that police remain “impartial” in the dispute between the Unist’ot’en Clan and the oil and gas companies vying to build pipelines through its territory. Without providing details on what “progress” she is referring to, she further maintained that the RCMP is “very pleased” with recent progress.

“Our Aboriginal Policing Members continue to remain in contact directly with the Unist’ot’en and we will continue to assist in any way we can,” Shoihet promised.

Vancouver Observer has sent multiple requests to the RCMP for details on the possibility of arrests at Unist’ot’en Camp, police occupancy in local hotels, and pressure from provincial and national representatives to cease plans to raid the camp.

So far, the RCMP has only said it  has “nothing further to add” to its statement, other than that its focus on remains “fruitful” negotiation between all parties.


New War In The Woods?

Camp 'checkpoint' in the Bulkley Valley; Freda Huson

Camp ‘checkpoint’ in the Bulkley Valley; Freda Huson

An escalating conflict in traditional wilderness territory is unfolding in near real time through YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, culminating this week in a July 30 rally in downtown Vancouver.

The powder keg that is the Unist’ot’en camp in the Bulkley Valley of B.C.’s Central Interior is the top issue behind a rally tonight (July 30) CBC Plaza, 700 Hamilton St., 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The event, organized by Rising Tide, will be in support for Unist’ot’en camp’s continued effort to turn away RCMP, security contractors and pipeline employees attempting to enter unceded territory, access necessary to connect oil to tankers on the West Coast near Prince Rupert.

“This event hopes to confront the police violence brought to people all over the world. This is not an isolated issue,” a press release from the Unist’ot’en camp states. “Join us to hear from those who have been to the camp and learn about how powerful life on the land has been.”

Freda Huson, spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, has maintained a checkpoint at the bridge into her territory for the last six years.

“I am not demonstrating. I am not protesting,” she is quoted as saying in the Rising Tide call to action. “I am occupying our traditional homelands.”

Confrontation Escalates As LNG Battles First Nations For Land Access

ACCESS DENIED: A still from video footage shows Houston RCMP officers requesting Unist’ot’en Camp spokesperson Freda Huson for access on July 15. When that failed, Chevron American officials tried on July 23 and got the same response.

ACCESS DENIED: A still from video footage shows Houston RCMP officers requesting Unist’ot’en Camp spokesperson Freda Huson for access on July 15. When that failed, Chevron American officials tried on July 23 and got the same response.

Vancouver Observer, Posted Jul 27th, 2015

‘We’re blocking pipelines; we’re not blocking everyone’, Unist’ot’en Camp spokesperson Freda Huson tells RCMP

A month after the B.C. government conditionally approved a liquefied natural gas project led by Royal Dutch Shell in Kitimat, the Unist’ot’en Camp has reported escalating confrontations as RCMP and the LNG industry seek access to its unceded territory.

In recent days supporters of the Unist’ot’en Camp have uploaded three videos showing clashes with RCMP and pipeline officials.

The latest recording, posted on July 26, shows TransCanada employees for the Shell project arriving in the area by helicopter. They were soon grounded by supporters who stood in the path of the rotor blades:

A July 15 video posted on YouTube shows attempts by the Mounties to pass a “checkpoint” set up by the First Nations camp, and on July 23, another video shows Chevron officials requesting access. Both were denied.

“It is becoming clear that the situation here is moving toward an escalation point,” states a July 18 letter from Unist’ot’en Camp. ”Today at one o’clock a low flying helicopter flew over the ridge line and crossed the river a couple kilometers south of the bridge,” according to the “call out” letter. “They flew low enough to take photos of activity happening at (the) bridge and our camp.”

Chevron American executives request permission to pass First Nations checkpoint

A still from a video posted on the Unist’ot’en Camp’s facebook page on July 23 documenting Chevron American officials, each wearing cameras, requesting road access.

“Camp supporters blocked the RCMP from entering,” reads the text in the uploaded video. “The following day, the RCMP threatened to arrest supporters at another checkpoint, but supporters built a gate.”

Gate constructed on the bridge in the Unist’ot’en Camp

Above, a still from a video posted on YouTube.

While police at the Houston detachment have maintained that they intend to “ensure the work crews can do their work safely” and have the lawful right to arrest anyone blocking a public road, the Camp letter states, “We have made it clear to the police and industry that we are not blockading the road. We are establishing check-points on the boundaries of our unceded Unist’ot’en territories. People and companies who gain our consent are allowed to enter.”

The Unist’ot’en Camp has requested “physical support from allies” as the situation escalates. This raises the spectre of another Kinder Morgan-style conflict.

(Developing story)