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.