On this week’s episode, Terra Informa speaks to Toghestiy, hereditary chief of the Likhts’amisyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, about Wet’suwet’en resistance to pipelines in their territories. In the second part of the program we investigate the challenges and downfalls of using peat moss in backyard gardens. Finally, from the archives, Terra Informa speaks with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! about the importance of independent media.
Pipelines the latest challenge to First Nations Federal, provincial governments must respect their responsibilities Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/technology/Pipelines+latest+challenge+First+Nations/7160125/story.html#ixzz25Mgjp7fs
By Dorothy Field, Times Colomnist
Recently, I spent a week in Wet’suwet’en territory in northwestern B.C. I drove up in an old school bus with a group determined to help the Unis’tot’en (the Big Frog clan) and Lhe Lin Liyin (the Guardians). We were prepared to block the Pacific Trail Pipeline that will carry fracked natural gas from B.C.’s northeast to Kitimat.
With all the attention on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, the approval of the Pacific Trail Pipeline in April has received little notice. The pipeline is opening the energy corridor that Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and Pembina will use if they also get approval. It will create a swath of devastation several kilometres wide.
In all the necessary talk of Enbridge’s abysmal record of spills and pipeline malfunction, the war between Alberta and B.C. for profits and the possible refinery at Kitimat, the issue of First Nations’ sovereignty has been all but ignored. My experience up north tells me this is a glaring blind spot.
Our bus arrived at the bridge across the Morice River, an hour southwest of Houston, at 4 a.m. A sign told us to honk and wait. After some time, two elders arrived. We came forward one at a time, stated our names and our purpose and were nodded across the bridge. The leaders at the Wet’suwet’en camp allow allies through.
When contractors for the pipeline arrive at the bridge, the elders talk to each one and explain their position before they send them back. This land is unceded territory. No treaty has ever been signed. This protocol represents indigenous people’s stand for their nation against further industrialization of their birthright.
Over our five days, we were hosted magnificently by the Wet’suwet’en people. They danced and drummed for us, fed us a moose they’d hunted and salmon they’d caught. They taught us to make “Indian ice cream,” squeezing tiny sopallalie berries until they foamed pink.
We learned how industrialization has changed the land. The caribou, once plentiful, are gone; the forest we camped in is a spectre of dark spars due to the pine beetle. Few rivers in the area are safe to drink from. The Morice River is still pure, a resource the Wet’suwet’en are determined to protect. We heard straight talk about race relations, learning we each had to take to heart.
I was struck by the resolve of these people. The Unistoten, along with the Yinka Dene Alliance and Gitxsan traditional leadership, have taken a stand to protect their lands from further industrialization, a stand for the health and fruitfulness of generations to come.
Around campfires, we heard stories of shattered culture and personal grief – stories similar to those I’d heard at the Victoria peace and reconciliation process, but even more powerful there on the land. We watched kids passionate to dance with their elders, kids learning traditional skills almost lost, now being reclaimed.
I came away with the deepest respect for our hosts. They, like so many of us, oppose fracking for natural gas and diverting enormous quantities of fresh water to extract bitumen from oilsands, clearcuts and mines that devastate traditional lands, and turning Canada into a petrostate where democracy shrivels as foreign companies take the money and run.
Premier Christy Clark seems to think this is a showdown over profit share. She’s missed the point. This is no game. First Nations are deadly serious. Canada would be in better shape if our federal and provincial governments had half the vision of our hosts.
Unfortunately, as opposition to Enbridge builds, I see few signs that our federal government is listening. The joint review panel on the Enbridge proposal appears to be window dressing. If Prime Minister Stephen Harper is determined to ram these pipelines through, I fear a western Oka.
Back home, I can still taste the sharp sweetness of sopallalie ice cream and the richness of my first oolichan. These memories are a kind of trust. I challenge all of us who care deeply about the integrity of this great land to stand strong with northern First Nations who, following their protocol, stand on guard for themselves and for us.
Dorothy Field is a Victoria artist and writer.
Fractured Land Demo
Caleb Behn is a young, indigenous warrior fighting to save his people’s land and culture. Deep in the exquisite wilderness of northeastern British Columbia, the ancestral home of Caleb’s Dene people, the multi-billion-dollar oil and gas industry emits chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, the killing of brain and blood cells, and environmental harm. Caleb himself was born with a birth defect and spent long, painful years under the surgeons’ knives, face cut, lips sewn. He cannot show that emissions from the industry caused his condition; still, it made him tough, gave him a deep aversion to gambling with children’s health, and helped drive him to action.
Though adept with a high-powered rifle and throwing knife for hunting, a vital part of his culture, Caleb needs stronger weapons to battle Big Oil and Gas, so he decided to get his law degree. Now, with his Mohawk, tattoos, and three-piece suit, Caleb is equally comfortable hunting moose on his land as he is fighting the oil and gas industry in corporate boardrooms and the courts.
Filmmakers Fiona Rayher and Damien Gillis have been documenting Caleb’s journey, including following him to New Zealand. There he learned from the Maori, shared his experiences dealing with Big Oil and Gas, and explored common strategies. Both Maori and Canadian First Nations are facing the ravages of this industry, and are now raising powerful new Indigenous leaders. They are forging alliances using ancient knowledge and the modern weapon of the law.
All Caleb ever wanted to do was to live off the land and teach his future children the traditional ways of the Dene. But before he can do that, he and his allies must first do battle with the Goliath industry that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear. The industry is powerful; but, like many great leaders, Caleb was born with natural talent, eloquence, and passion, tempered by hard work and hard challenges. And he has arrived at a moment in history when his people and territory need him.
Directed by Fiona Rayher and Damien Gillis
Executive Producer – Daniel Conrad
Digital Strategist & Community Manager – Hilary Henegar
Music by Ben Rogers (benrogers.bandcamp.com)
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I recently spent 6 days on unceded Unis’tot’en/Wet’suwet’en territory as part of a group of activists invited by the Unis’tot’en (the Big Frog Clan) and Lhe Lin Liyin (the Guardians) to witness their stand against the Pacific Trails Pipeline (one of 7 pipelines proposed to run through that territory.)
“The Unis’tot’en and Lhe Lin Liyin, along with other strong uncompromising allies will stop this destructive path, for the future generations, for the biodiversity, and for solidarity with our neighbours living amidst the heavy impacts in the Tar Sands affected areas in northern Alberta, and regions heavily affected by fracking natural gas and shale oil, as well as communities impacted by refineries, pipelines, and fuel terminals and port expansions.” reads the Unis’tot’en Action Camp website.
The camp was a very profound experience for me, and I am still processing the lessons.
To begin with, I learned that the Pacific Trail Pipeline, which has already been approved and is scheduled to begin construction any day now, follows along most of it’s route the exact path of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
The Office of The Wet’suwet’en and dozens of other First Nations along the pipeline route and coast have vowed resistance to the Enbridge pipeline, in which environmental organizations and the NDP also oppose. None but a small handful of grassroots groups like the Lhe Lin Liyin and Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network (of which I am a board member) are speaking out about the Pacific Trails Pipeline.
If you have not heard of the PTP, then you are not alone. Most haven’t. Aside from the fact that it runs along the right-of-way for the Enbridge pipeline, (which will make it easier for Enbridge or anyone else to ram their crude pipelines through), the PTP pipeline will carry Liquid Natural Gas to a refining facility in Kitimat, where it will be processed for export to Asia.
The source of this LNG are fracking fields in BC and Alberta. If you know a bit about fracking, you may have concerns about the damage that this extraction method has on watersheds and habitat. But that’s not all.
If it doesn’t bother you that LNG from the fracking process is being piped through unceded territories via a pipeline most of us never heard about, you may be concerned who is paying for all this.
BC Hydro intends to sell the hydro needed for the LNG terminal (1,600 KW worth) at a subsidized rate of almost 50%, and letting BC Hydro residential customers like yourself pay the rest. Here we have a very clear case of wealth being redistributed upwards at a massive scale.
As if that weren’t enough, where is BC Hydro getting this electricity? Well, that’s what the controversial Site C dam is for. If you haven’t already heard of the Site C dam, you may be alarmed to hear about the massive flooding required, or the $8 billion dollar price tag. If the environmental impacts of this mega-dam don’t alarm you, then consider the fact that 100% of this hydro is going to be sold (at a rate subsidized by you) to the LNG industry, who will then ship it to Asia, where it will then contribute to this global warming thing we’ve been hearing a bit about.
Hmm, good deal, eh?
So for these reasons, I find it very important we support the Unis’tot’en and Lhe Lin Liyin, who have taken a very strong stand against not only Enbridge and the Pacific Trails pipeline, but the entire pipeline/energy corridor boondoggle that threatens to bankrupt us all as it destroys the land and the cultures that are of that land.
If what we have been hearing from the Unis’tot’en and Lhe Lin Liyin is to be believed, and I believe them, they will be putting their bodies in the path of this pipeline, as I witnessed them doing when a CANFOR logging contractor attempted to pass through the territory on the way to cut trees for the right-of-way for the pipeline.
This kind of stand will no doubt bring inevitable police state action, and the media will be quick to vilify this stand as yet another dangerous and annoying native blockade. This we have seen, and this we have been warned by people at the camp who have witnessed these kinds of conflicts. We must begin now to head off this smear campaign that will make it easier for the police state to roll over the Unis’tot’en and Lhe Lin Liyin and force this pipeline through.
The Unis’tot’en and Lhe Lin Liyin are doing this for all of us, because this pipeline will affect all of us. These folks know exactly what these projects mean and how they tie together in a way that has schooled many of us who consider ourselves knowledgeable activists, and they are taking their stand at a very key point in this whole interconnected mess. To not stand with them would be foolish and counter-productive to everything we claim to believe in.
Construction on this mega-energy infrastructure is already well underway. Much of this mess has already passed the ‘proposed stage’.
One important thing I heard from one of the organizers, Mel Bazil, which is something I have been trying to communicate as well for the past many months, is that we need to stop thinking about what we are facing as just Enbridge, or just Kinder Morgan. “Instead of stop Enbridge” Mel Said “Stop the Energy Corridor”. Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, Keystone, PTP, Site C, and dozens of other new and proposed mega-projects are a combined effort, a whole new wave of industrialization that is being rammed through largely under the radar, with Enbridge being the straw-man/patsy that we are supposed to waste all our energy opposing. It’s time to take a broader view of what’s going on, and take serious action.
That action has begun, on the banks of the Morice river in Unis’tot’en/Wet’suwet’en territory. This is your wake-up call.
|By Maryam Adrangi, Wednesday, August 29th, 2012||More Sharing ServicesShare|
If you want to build a pipeline on Unis’tot’en territory, you better ask. The over 150 participants who went to the third annual action camp a few weeks ago, however, were not trying to build a pipeline; but rather were trying to build support and solidarity for communities who will be impacted.
This sign on the bridge to Unis’tot’en territory shows that those who want to come onto the land must have the consent of the community.
BC approved the Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP) this past April to be built through the territory on which the Unis’tot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation has been hunting and fishing since time immemorial. They have never ceded nor surrendered their territories through the Treaty process and thus assert that neither BC nor the government have the right to approve industrial projects happening on their land.
The Unis’tot’en explain on their website: “In ancient times and even today in canoe journeys, and community resistance building gatherings, there exists Protocols where people show who they are in relation to asking permission to enter the Traditional Lands from the Traditional Chiefs and Matriarchs.
Free Prior and Informed Consent is written into today’s United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Many sovereigntists take issue with the so called ‘rights’ as they are created by man and not by the Creator.”
This video put out by SubMedia TV shows interviews from members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation as well as organizers and participants of the camp.
The Pacific Trails Pipeline is a natural gas pipeline that would bring natural gas from northeastern BC to a Light Natural Gas terminal which is being built in Kitimat, BC. This would increase tanker traffic in the precarious (due to high winds, extreme weather conditions, and many small islands which leave little room for large tankers to maneuver) Douglas Channel, as well as expand BC’s dirty natural gas sector which is largely used to fuel the tar sands. To add fuel to the fire, part of the route of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline follows the path of the PTP. This means that if the PTP route is clear-cut and becomes accessible to industry, it is easier for companies like Enbridge and others looking to build tar sands pipelines to Kitimat.
The camp brought supporters from a number of First Nations including Secwepmec, Nuu-chah-nulth, as well as Fort Chipeweyan. Supporters also attended from across Canada and the USA, as well as a caravan from Vancouver Island.
The week begun with workshops on decolonization and race relations, which was a large theme of the camp: How can settler communities and allies work together to fight these projects and Harper’s colonial agenda to expand the tar sands and tar sands projects (associated pipelines and tanker projects) without the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples? Organizers and allies of the camp said that there would be uncompromising resistance from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities working in solidarity. The large attendance and support for the community was a testament of exactly that.
There were also workshops on traditional medicines, de-escalation, campaign strategy, as well as a Council of Canadians’ System Change, Not Climate Change Project.
While PTP is a natural gas pipeline, the project is connected with other energy privatization schemes and the expansion of Canada’s fossil fuel industry (oil and gas), all of which undermines Canada’s ability or political will to take action on climate change. More articles about the camp and recent articles about the Pacific Trails Pipeline:
Filmed at the 3rd Annual Unis’tot’en Action Camp at Unis’tot’en Territory, August 6 – 10, 2012.