On day four of the Building Resistance tour, we traveled from Smithers to the Unist’ot’en Camp located 66km down a logging road just outside of Houston BC. To access the camp, we must cross a bridge over the Morice River where we asked for consent to enter the territory. The Unist’ot’en Camp is a resistance community set up to protect the sovereignty of the Wet’suwet’en territory by stopping ALL pipelines.
Whether it is the Enbridge Northern Gateway Proposal or the Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP), the resistance camp stands along the exact route of these pipelines and where they will be stopped. We were lucky to have been there during the Spring Work camp and have the opportunity to meet all the people volunteering to expand the blockade. The cabin built on the initial pipeline path has forced industry to re-route the pipeline to much more difficult terrain. They are now working on building pit-houses and an impressive permaculture garden on the new path of the proposed PTP.
We were told the the camp was recently visited by RCMP officers who accused the camp of blocking a “public” road. The Indigenous land defenders reminded the RCMP that they were not permitted on the unceded lands which are Unis’tot’en territory. We also heard that suspected RCMP planes were circling the camp, the location of the pit houses, and the permaculture gardens–which would indicate ongoing surveillance. It is clear that the blockade is posing a serious threat to those invested in constructing PTP.
This pipeline would transport unconventional gas from fracking operations in the Liard Basin and Horn River Basin to a processing plant in Kitimat where the gas is liquefied (LNG, liquefied natural gas) and shipped overseas on supertankers. This pipeline would bulldoze precious habitat through unceded indigenous lands and increase the risk of contamination from pipeline leaks and ocean tankers. PTP is part of fracking expansion in BC. Fracking is a source of energy that, in its complete life cycle, can be as bad as coal when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to environmental devastation and major climate change contributions, PTP would pave the way for the Enbridge tar sands pipeline.
For Rising Tide Vancouver Coast Salish Territories it was essential to stop by the Unist’ot’en Camp during our tour. The formation of our group was greatly inspired by our members’ experiences and relationships from the summer action camp last year. It was a great opportunity to build relationships, and compelled us to take action in solidarity with frontline communities when we returned home. Most members of Rising Tide are settlers to this land and with that comes a tremendous amount of privilege and power. We have a responsibility to confront the settler colonial state of so called Canada as well as the corporate and capitalist forces which seek to further pillage and steal the land from the rightful stewards of the land.