RCMP authorized to forcibly enter unceded Wet’suwet’en territory re-occupied and stewarded by the Unist’ot’en Clan

On Friday the 14th, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church issued a temporary injunction granting Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada, the go-ahead to proceed with development for a future LNG pipeline on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory, stewarded by the Unist’ot’en. The Unist’ot’en are a clan of the Wet’suwet’en people. Since 2010, Unist’ot’en has been blocking the road to access Wedzin Kwah / Morice River Bridge to continue work on Coastal GasLink’s 670-kilometre pipeline that would send natural gas from Dawson Creek to LNG Canada outside Kitimat. The particular defendants from Unist’ot’en have been named as Freda Huson and Warner Naziel.

The temporary injunction comes into effect on Monday, December 17th at 3:30pm and will remain in place until May 1, 2019. Coastal GasLink is seeking a permanent injunction but this was ruled against by Justice Church as she felt Huson and Naziel did not have enough time to respond to the permanent injunction.

The Prince George Citizen reports that “Coastal GasLink has agreed that it did not consult with the Unist’ot’en, saying the group was not identified by the B.C. Environmental Office as a governing Wet’suwet’en body.” Coastal GasLink, Justice Church, and The Prince George Citizen all do not acknowledge or recognize that Unist’ot’en is blocking the pipeline because they are exercising Aboriginal Title against the settler colonial province and the corporations that British Columbia is protecting. The re-occupation at Unist’ot’en is exercising Wet’suwet’en law in the name of Indigenous sovereignty.

The settler bias in the court decision and media representation is further cemented by Coastal GasLink’s statement: “The camp established next to the bridge will remain as is. In fact, we see no reason why the camp cannot continue with its activities. We simply need to use the public bridge to access our pipeline right of way.” However, there is no right of way without free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) by the Unist’ot’en; FPIC is upheld by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Coastal GasLink is not “simply using the public bridge;” they are intruding on Indigenous land with the intention of destroying it and with it the Wet’suwet’en land relations that have persisted through the last centuries of genocide.

According to the Prince George Citizen, “the injunction comes with an enforcement order authorizing the RCMP to uphold the injunction if there is push back.” In the same news article, Justice Church claimed: “there is enough…first-view evidence that actions of the defendants are unlawful and pose irreparable harm to the Coastal GasLink to warrant a temporary injunction.” The article continues with Church remarking that she “found the harm to the defendants of allowing Coastal GasLink access for the interim would be ‘relatively minimal.’” Here the harms against the Unist’ot’en are weighed against the expansion of Canadian resource extraction and transportation; the courts, the RCMP, and the media show in unison that Indigenous land relations can and will be violently suppressed in the service of capital accumulation.

Unist’ot’en Camp was constructed in 2010 to reoccupy the traditional land of the Wet’suwet’en people and is the site of a holistic healing lodge. When interviewed by Star Metro, Chief Na’moks said that “the Wet’suwet’en will continue to oppose the pipeline and occupy the healing lodge, where many adults and youth go for spiritual guidance and cultural connection.” The Unist’ot’en have until January 31, 2019 to file a response to the permanent injunction and there is no other work for the pipeline scheduled for the area until June 2021.

Attend the Rally for Unist’ot’en in so called Vancouver, B.C. Monday December 17, 2018 @ 5:30pm in front of CBC Vancouver, 700 Hamilton Street. This is the second article in a series of rolling articles that will cover the defense and solidarity efforts against the Coastal GasLink/TransCanada LNG pipeline. We stand with Unist’ot’en!

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