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T'karonto Rallies to Support Unist’ot’en Camp

Valerie Lannon

December 11, 2018

In solidarity with the Unist’ot’en Camp, about 100 activists in T’karonto protested downtown on December 10 at the RBC Centre that houses an office of TransCanada Corporation. This is the company that is scheduled to build the pipeline that will transport fracked gas from the northeast of the area known as British Columbia to Kitimat, as part of the massive LNG Canada project.  The project was recently approved by Canada and  BC’s NDP government. The 670-kilometre pipeline will cross several indigenous territories, but none better defended than that of the Wet’suwet’en people where the ten-year old Unist’ot’en Camp is located. Originally built to protect the land from the now defeated Northern Gateway pipeline and other proposed tar sands-related pipelines, the Camp now houses a healing centre for Indigenous people seeking to heal from trauma typically resulting from colonization. The company wants an injunction to “legally” build the pipeline through Wet’suwet’en land. The application for the injunction was to be heard in court in Vancouver December 10, the same as International Human Rights Day.

There were chants of “Hey Canada no way. Unist’ot’en is here to stay” and “Can’t drink oil. Leave it in the soil.” Banners proclaimed “No access without consent” and water/land defenders held conventional “No trespassing signs” that added the words “TransCanada” or “Unist’ot’en.”

The event featured indigenous women playing traditional hand drums and singing. Speakers included Vanessa Gray, well-known water defender from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation located by Sarnia’s “Chemical Valley”, an area poisoned for decades by the oil refineries and other chemical industries. She had just returned from the Camp and said “Our healing requires our land to be healthy and our community to be strong…Canada benefits from stolen resources…People at the healing lodge are incredibly stressed by the police and company workers trying to get on the site. Please donate to defend the land. We are better off with clean air and clean water.”

Eve Saint, whose background includes the Attawapiskat First Nation, urged everyone to mobilize support for the Camp and all those who defend land and water: “Now is the time to get behind indigenous resistance…TransCanada wants to sue Freda and partner Smogelgem for financial losses, and force the RCMP on indigenous lands where they have no jurisdiction. But the Camp has turned away police and industry in the past. And the Tiny House Warriors (further south in the Interior of “British Columbia”) are not going anywhere either.”

Local Idle No More activist Crystal Sinclair addressed the crowd saying “We oppose Canadian support for the pipeline… We support indigenous sovereignty and any First Nation standing up for its rights…Support Bill 262 to ensure UNDRIP (the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People) is implemented.”

Spoken word artist Mori told us “They told me this was a ‘resource’ but it looked like trees to me…They told me I was a ‘resource’ to have children and perform sexual acts… But I’m not for sale and I’m taking my sovereignty back.”

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