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One month on: Coyote Camp Communique from the Gidimt’en Frontline: All Out for Wedzin Kwa!

So-called Canada. One month ago, we reoccupied Ludhis Bin territory by Wedzin Kwa, where Coastal GasLink pipeline wants to drill underneath our sacred headwaters. There’s now a clan cabin on the drill pad site where CGL plans to drill under Wedzin Kwa. In 2010, there were 13 proposed pipeline projects to go through Wet’suwet’en territory. Investors were forced to pull out of these mega-destructive projects through our territory and CGL pipeline is the only one left, from Enbridge, Pacific Trails Pipeline, Spectra, Pembina, and several others. Within the first days of the reoccupation there were violent arrests and police brutality on unarmed welcome guests on Cas Yikh yintah. We put a callout for solidarity from our neighboring nations and from our allies. The Haudenosaunee showed up and walked the RCMP out of the territory and they haven’t returned. 

Originally published by Yintah Access.

Following the militarized raids in 2019 and 2020 on Gidimt’en territory, callouts for solidarity sparked coast-to-coast actions crippling the “Canadian” economy and shutting down major infrastructure across so-called “Canada ”. We have a sacred responsibility to our children and to protect Wedzin Kwa, our clean drinking water, our salmon, and the right to be Wet’suwet’en, for all future generations. We call on our allies everywhere, to rise up, stand up, fight back! Put pressure on investors, on industry, and the government to put an end to the Coastal GasLink pipeline. All out for Wedzin Kwa! 

1 . Gidimt’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation are celebrating a one-month re-occupation of traditional Cas Yikh territory, to protect our sacred headwaters, Wedzin Kwa.


Since the beginning of October 2021, Gidimt’en Checkpoint and supporters have worked tirelessly to establish and fortify Coyote Camp, blocking the pathway of the proposed CGL pipeline. Welcomed to the territory by Dinï ze’ Woos, the house Chief of Cas Yikh house of the Gidimt’en Clan, many guests have arrived to support the effort to save Wedzin Kwa, our sacred and uncontaminated water source. We have taken back the land that is rightfully ours from our oil and gas industry oppressors, and we remain steadfast in our decolonial struggle for self-determination. We are unceded, undefeated, sovereign and victorious. 

TC Energy project Coastal GasLink (CGL) has proposed a fracked gas pipeline cutting across Wet’suwet’en traditional territories, tunneling under the Wedzin Kwa. Starting in Dawson Creek, the pipeline’s route crosses through the Canadian Rockies and other mountain ranges on its route to Kitimat, where the gas is intended to be exported across the Pacific Ocean to Asian markets. Our re-occupation is blocking a critical piece of construction, representing continued resistance over several years against the corporate-envisioned “energy corridor” through the region. The completion of this project would expedite the construction of subsequent bitumen and fracked gas pipelines, and create incentive for gas companies to tap into shale deposits along the pipeline right of way. 

“Liquefied natural gas” or “LNG” is an industry term that conceals the dirty truth of fracking, which the government, industry, media, and NGOs have aimed to silence in their relentless quest for profit. Toxic carcinogenic substances are used in the hydraulic fracturing process, and there have been thousands of gas transmission line accidents, injuries, and deaths. The damage caused by pipeline spills causes irreparable harm to the Earth and lifeways of our people. 

The drill pad site was occupied September 25th and remains today as a testament to the willpower, resilience, and strength of spirit of our frontline Indigenous warriors. We cannot and will not give up this fight for our future. Despite escalated police brutality, threats, and daily harassment, Coyote Camp remains strong as we celebrate a hard-won month of freedom on liberated land. We will not stand by while our territories are destroyed.

2 . The Wet’suwet’en resistance has already defeated several dirty mega-infrastructure pipeline projects over the last 10 years. 

In 2010, there were 13 proposed pipeline projects through these territories to create a Carbon Corridor via the Trans Pacific Partnership. The Wet’suwet’en re-occupation of our traditional territories and an Indigenous wall of resistance all along the west coast forced the investors to pull out of these projects over and over. 

Among those corporations thwarted by Wet’suwet’en resistance:  Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipelines, Chevron’s Pacific Trails Pipeline, Apache Canada, Encana Corporation, EOG Resources (Enron Oil and Gas), Spectra, Pembina and Kinder Morgan.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline company obtained a Site Alteration Permit (SAP) for Ts’elkay Kwe from the BC Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) through a flawed and ineffective consultation process and without the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs. The creek is the home of the endangered Lamprey eel, and runs directly into Wedzin Kwa through an ancient and documented archaeological village site.

The Wet’suwet’en have argued for years that the pipeline route endangers critical species, cultural use and heritage sites, and is not supported by Wet’suwet’en land use plans, particularly around the development of climate change policies. The corporation pushed forward with destroying this culturally significant heritage site just days before the reoccupation near Wedzin Kwa.

CGL continues to violate their own regulations and conditions set forward by governing bodies such as the Oil and Gas Commision (OGC) and their own Environmental Assessment Certificates. Neither CGL nor the BCOGC undertook consultation with Cas Yikh or the Office of the Wet’suwet’en for the permit. Silence does not equal consent. 

This is yet another clear example of corporate rule under the gun, and the colonial attempt to override fundamental Indigenous rights. Canadian government policies align with the interests of Coastal GasLink. Rules are manipulated to conform with their desire to steal Wet’suwet’en land for profit.

Today CGL is the only project left in the wake of a trail of failed projects, and they will suffer the same fate as their predecessors have. This pipeline will not succeed.

Tensions escalated at the beginning of the month, with daily patrols and harassment by the RCMP and the Community Industry Response Group (CIRG) team, notorious for their brutal aggression that has come under Supreme Court scrutiny at Ada istx (Fairy Creek) during the summer of 2021. Officers hid badge numbers and names, made gruesome jokes about genocide, emptied water cisterns, slashed tires, stole ATV keys and harassed media and legal observers. Powerful solidarity from our Haudenosaunee and Lihkt’samisyu Clan allies fortified our resistance at Coyote Camp. 

Timeline of Important Events: 

September 21 

Coastal GasLink (CGL) contractors came in escorted by RCMP and cleared trees and brush at an ancient sacred site along Ts’elkay Kwe. There was no archaeologist on site. CGL refused to show any permits, but continued to clear brush and fall trees in the valley as a Gidimt’en matriarch requested a pause to consult with Cas Yikh’s chiefs, wing chiefs, matriarchs and members. 

September 22 

After days of conflict between Gidimt’en/Cas Yikh Chiefs and members, Coastal GasLink and the RCMP, contractors cleared an archaeological site which has been destroyed with heavy machinery for construction of the pipeline. 

September 23

Coastal GasLink continued to clear the archeology site despite ongoing demands from Cas Yikh Chiefs and matriarchs to cease work. It was discovered that the drill site at Wedzin Kwa had been cleared and grated, indicating drilling is imminent. 

September 24

Fires were lit and Cas Yikh members and supporters gathered the strength and resources needed to engage Coastal GasLink and RCMP at the drill site. It is our responsibility to uphold ‘Anuc niwh’it’en (Wet’suwet’en law), under which all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en have unanimously opposed all pipeline proposals.

September 25 

DRILL SITE OCCUPIED.

On the morning of September 25th, the access road to CGL’s drill site at Wedzin Kwa was destroyed. Blockades were set up and the site was occupied to stop the drilling under the sacred headwaters that nourish the Wet’suwet’en Yintah. Cas Yikh and supporters gained control of the area and refused to allow the destruction to continue.

During the occupation, one supporter was tasered and arrested on the road to the drill pad site. Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs were denied access to their territory, read the injunction, and threatened with arrest. The Hereditary Chiefs stood their ground and were not arrested. RCMP left the site and the road was retaken by Coyote Camp.

September 26 

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs continued to support the occupation, and were successful along with their supporters continuing to hold the line. CGL was unable to access the site or perform any work.

September 27 

The RCMP, trespassing on the Yintah on behalf of Coastal GasLink, made another arrest at the drill site of a supporter locked down to a bus. Their gruesome use of pain compliance on the supporter was unsuccessful in extracting the person, so they sent in CGL contractors with tools instead of a trained extraction team. After release, the person was sent to get medical attention and requires ongoing medical care due to injuries sustained by RCMP. 

September 28  

The presence of the Hereditary Chiefs on the Yintah was disruptive to local police, who were unable to prevent them from accessing their territory. Community members continue to gather at the drill site in solidarity with land defenders.

Sept 30 

NATIONAL DAY OF TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION

“National Day of Truth and Reconciliation” took place across Canada, putting on full display the ongoing colonialism that Indigenous peoples are facing.

Sleydo’ states; “On the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, reconciliation is dead. The government, industry, and police are still invading our yintah. The authority of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary house and clan system was verified in the historic Delgamuukw and Red Top court decisions, but our hereditary system continues to be disrespected by BC and Canada.”

If any true reconciliation is to be achieved all levels of government must honour the authority of Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs. The public must be made aware of the lengths to which the government and industry will go to suppress our rights and title.

As the rest of the nation wears orange shirts the Wet’suwet’en people will be upholding our laws and enacting our title and rights out on the yintah, protecting Wedzin Kwa. 

OCTOBER 3

A new cabin was built on Cas Yikh, directly on the drill site and right of way for the pipeline. Coastal GasLink plans to drill here under the river and build a massive tailings pond. The site is directly above a ceremonial pit house at the edge of the river and a smokehouse belonging to Chief Woos. The cabin will instead house Cas Yikh and Gidimt’en Clan members for generations to come.

OCTOBER 4

Eight RCMP officers entered Coyote Camp despite meetings with Chief Woos. Sleydo’ called out for further support and action in anticipation of further enforcement.

OCTOBER 6

Dinï ze’ Woos ceremonially welcomed supporters at “Coyote Camp” and spoke of the history of this territory. Our people have been protecting our territory and children for thousands of years. We are stronger than CGL and the RCMP. We have our ancestors with us, the Yintah, and Wedzin Kwa support us. Sleydo’ reminded us that we are righteous and spiritually more powerful than them, no matter what violence they bring to us on these territories.

OCTOBER 7

6 RCMP officers entered Coyote camp and were confronted by camp security. They were told to leave, to not come into camp. Police violently entered the camp, pushing and shoving land defenders. They stayed for several hours, making threats of violence and joking about genocide. Coyote camp continued to hold their ground against C-IRG.

OCTOBER 9

The week of solidarity action was launched and supporters were asked to go #AllOutForWedzinKwa, in a mobilization for the biggest battle yet to protect our sacred headwaters, Wedzin Kwa. During the week of action, rails and ports and campuses were shut down as a warning to CGL and its investors that the pipeline will never go through.

OCTOBER 10

RCMP once again entered Coyote Camp, this time with Sgt. Charney, who violently assaulted BIPOC teenagers and youth at Ada istx. They emptied water cisterns, rifled through tents, took ATV keys, and harassed media and legal observers. That afternoon, Dinï ze’ Woos welcomed our Haudenosaunee relatives and allies to the Yintah. 

October 11

RCMP attempted to enter Coyote camp and were turned away by Haudenosaunee warriors and relatives. This victory was a powerful moment in this occupation, asserting Indigenous control and sovereignty over these territories.

October 15

The week of action ended in a CN railway shut down in St-Édouard-de-Maskinongé. Sleydo’ and Skylar Williams discussed impacts of colonization, industry, RCMP and how we are painted by the government and media to distract from our true goal of protecting our land and people.

October 17

Sleydo and Donna Silversmith of Snipe Clan, Cayuga discussed Nation-to-Nation solidarity in the face of MMIW and industrial threat to land and water. The RCMP have not yet returned since they were chased away on October 11th.

OCTOBER 18 

Lihkt’samisyu Clan, Wet’suwet’en chiefs Dsta’hyl and Tse’besa took action as Coastal GasLink workers continued to trespass on the territory in violation of Wet’suwet’en laws. Coastal GasLink was instructed to remove all equipment from Lihkts’amisyu territory immediately, or it will be decommissioned and seized by the Likht’samisyu clan in accordance with our laws. 

4 . Haudenosaunee Warriors Showed up in Solidarity on Wet’suwet’en Territory and Escorted the RCMP Out.

A delegation of Haudenosaunee people, including Skyler Williams from Six Nations,Mohawk, Wolf Clan, and 1492 LandBack Lane, arrived on the territory with a letter of support and unity from The Six Nations “Iroquois” Confederacy. The Wet’suwet’en have strong family ties and children with the Haudenosaunee, and are committed to working together towards the protection of the Wedzin Kwa for all future generations.

Skyler, in a discussion with Sleydo on Gitimt’en territory: 

“The Haudenosaunee people are here in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en, to amplify, to support, to do whatever it is that we need to do in order to make sure that our people are taken care of, and that RCMP isn’t continuing to brutalize people that are, you know, doing what they can to protect their lands for future generations…

We’re sick and tired of watching our children being ripped out of our homes and our lands being destroyed and our water being poisoned. And the fact that we don’t get to be who we are because we’ll get thrown in jail just for trying to be who we are as Indigenous People.

Regardless of all their cops and courts and guns and jails, there ain’t nothing that’s going to dissuade people from understanding that connection to the land. That connection to the land for us is something that you can’t jail that away. You can’t beat that away. You can’t residential school that away, that connection that we have to each other. There’s nothing that they can do to take that away from us…

When our Confederacy chiefs pass a law that says that we’re going to stand behind and support Wet’suwet’en people, that means that’s forever…There needs to be some solidarity. There needs to be some unity within indigenous communities across the country…

If you can’t get here to get boots on the ground…then we need to be making sure that we are on every bit of colonial infrastructure.

Watch the full discussion here:

5 . Wet’suwet’en laws protect our lands and our people. Our clan, and our government, is the highest authority on our sovereign lands.

HEREDITARY LEADERSHIP

Wet’suwet’en House Chiefs have continuous and full jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en territory since time immemorial and must be provided free, prior, and informed consent for industry to do work on Wet’suwet’en lands. Therefore, any forced access to Wet’suwet’en lands is considered trespass.

“The Wet’suwet’en fought for many years in the Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa court case to have their sovereignty affirmed by Canadian law. In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Wet’suwet’en people, as represented by their hereditary leaders, had not given up rights and title to 22,000 square kilometers of Northern British Columbia.”

The 1997 Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the Delgamuukw/Gisdaywa court case affirmed that Wet’suwet’en title, based on the traditional clan governance system, has never been extinguished.

OUR GOVERNANCE

Each House Group has a House Chief (Dini ze or Ts’ake ze’) and supporting chiefs who assist in decision making and hold advisory roles. The House Chiefs are the representatives on behalf of the House, and the 2-3 House Chiefs within the clan, collectively, represent the entire Clan.

Wet’suwet’en decision-making requires the collective House Group Dini ze’ and Ts’ake ze’ to discuss important matters and come to consensus.  All territory decisions must be ratified in the bahlats (feast hall). Supporting Chiefs do not have the authority to speak on behalf of the entire clan. Nobody can speak on behalf of other Clan territories.

6 . In 2019 and 2020 during the raids on Wet’suwet’en territory, our callouts for solidarity sparked coast-to-coast mobilizations disrupting the machine of empire.  

We are counting on supporters everywhere to go ALL OUT in a solidarity mobilization for the biggest battle yet in the decolonial war to protect our sacred headwaters, Wedzin Kwa. 

In January 2019, when Gidimt’en Checkpoint was raided by the RCMP, enforcing an injunction for Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline, your communities rose up in solidarity! You organized rallies and marches. You published Solidarity Statements. You wrote your representatives. You put on fundraisers and donated to the Legal Fund. You pledged to stand by the Wet’suwet’en. The pressure worked to keep Wet’suwet’en land defenders and supporters safe as they navigated the colonial court system. All charges of civil contempt were dropped.

In January 2020, you answered the call to #SHUTDOWNCANADA! The world watched as the RCMP violently confronted unarmed Wet’suwet’en land defenders, on behalf of CGL, in an intense 6-day struggle for control over the territory, following industry’s eviction by Hereditary Chiefs. This invasion ignited a storm of solidarity. The Wet’suwet’en were embraced in beautiful and powerful actions coast to coast and overseas. During February and March, thousands of people rose up in hundreds of demonstrations in solidarity with Indigenous sovereignty and environmental protection against the fracked gas industry.

During a wave of international uprisings, Canada came under fire for its refusal to engage in meaningful Free, Prior and Informed Consent with Indigenous Nations across Turtle Island. Canada’s denial of responsibility and failure to implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples resulted in the fight for #LANDBACK. We are humbled by the power of our allies, friends and supporters. We have love, respect, and gratitude for those that stood their ground beside us on the yintah to defend Wedzin Kwa. We vow to reciprocate the solidarity from everyone that followed, all our allies/relatives and supporters that put their feet in the street defending Indigenous sovereignty. 

Now, we need you to rise up again. In October 2021, solidarity actions have already started popping up around the world, as close as Smithers BC and as far away as Japan!

7 . We are fighting for our children and future generations.

Our way of life is at risk. Wedzin Kwa is the river that feeds all of Wet’suwet’en territory and gives life to our nation. We have a sacred responsibility to our children and to protect Wedzin Kwa, our clean drinking water, our salmon, and the right to be Wet’suwet’en for all future generations. 

Dirty energy industries use the promise of “jobs” as a primary argument to force impoverished communities, who need money, into accepting their destructive plans. But these promises are usually broken, and the fallout is irreversible. Even for such massive projects as the one proposed here there are very few permanent jobs for local residents. And there are no jobs on a dead planet. 

90% of profits go to the company shareholders, in the amount of hundreds of billions of dollars, while our people do all the work and face all the consequences. Should we settle for crumbs from the industry’s feasting table? Or preserve the “critical infrastructure” of our water, air, and lands for the next seven generations? 

Eve, Wet’suwet’en land defender and daughter of Dinï ze’ Woos: 

“We don’t have to be armed. We use our voice and our bodies and people can shut it down…We also have a responsibility to our family…And that’s where we stand…because this river- we want it for our children and our families.”

8 . We call on our allies everywhere to RISE UP in solidarity.

We must employ all the collective strength in our hearts and minds to stop the machine of global empire that is destroying us. The time on the world clock is NOW to unify around our common goal as beings on this planet, to honor Indigenous sovereignty and put an end to end of history! We are in this fight for the long haul and we will not back down. We call on all our allies around the world to RISE UP for our final battle with industry giants, and go ALL OUT FOR WEDZIN KWA. 

Action Steps

Put pressure on Coastal GasLink, the investors, the government:

CGL’s website has a directory map of work sites and their progress here: https://map.coastalgaslink.com/

⭐ Come to the land NOW: There is an immediate need for boots on the ground. Fill out the registration form to COME TO CAMP https://www.yintahaccess.com/come-to-camp

⭐ Find or host a solidarity rally near you. Consider hosting a rally at the site of a regulating, insurance or investment office to send a direct message to those permitting and backing this project that Coastal GasLink for trespassing on Wet’suwet’en lands and will not go through.

⭐ Pressure the government : call the BC Oil and Gas Commission, the Ministry of Forests,and the Environmental Assessment office

BC Oil and Gas Commission (2950 Jutland Rd, Floor 6, Victoria BC): WEBSITE
Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer BC Oil & Gas Commission: Paul Jeakins; (250 419 4411), paul.jeakins@bcogc.ca

Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development
Contacts: WEBSITE
Katrine Conroy; (250 381 6240), flnr.minister@gov.bc.ca

Environmental Assessment Office: WEBSITE
Project Lead: Meaghan Hoyle; (778 974-3361), meaghan.hoyle@gov.bc.ca
Executive Project Director: Fern Stockman; (778 698-9313), Fern.Stockman@gov.bc.ca
Compliance & Enforcement Lead: Compliance & Enforcement Branch (250-387-0131), eao.compliance@gov.bc.ca

⭐ Pressure Banks, Investors, and Partners backing CGL: 

Banks:

  • Australia: National Australia Bank
  • Canada: ATB Financial, Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Western Bank, CIBC, Export Development Canada, National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, TD
  • China: Bank of China, China Construction Bank, ICBC
  • Germany: KfW IPEX-Bank, Landesbank Baden-Württemberg
  • Japan: Mizuho, MUFG, SMFG, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank
  • Singapore: United Overseas Bank
  • South Korea: Kookmin Bank
  • Spain: CaixaBank
  • US: Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Raymond James, Truist Securities (formerly SunTrust Robinson Humphrey)

Investors:

  • TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), is a major North American fossil fuel infrastructure company — and promoter of the now-dead Keystone XL pipeline.
  • KKR is a publicly-traded American global investment firm headquartered in NYC, with USD $429 billion in assets under management as of June 2021. This purchase was made in partnership with South Korea’s state-run pension fund, the National Pension Service of Korea (NPS).
  • AIMCo manages USD $118 billion in assets on behalf of 32 Alberta pension, endowment, and government funds. It is a Crown corporation, which in this case means that it is owned by the government of Alberta.

Partners:  LNG Canada, Korea Gas Corporation, Mitsubishi, PetroChina, Petronas\

Learn more at “Who’s banking the Coastal GasLink pipeline?”

⭐ DONATE: DONATE HERE

⭐ SHARE: Spread the word about our struggle with news and social media outlets. Use the hashtag #AllOutForWedzinKwa

INDEX OF WET’SUWET’EN WORDS

Dinï ze’ – Chief 

Kwa – River 

Kwe – Creek 

Ts’ake ze’ – Chief 

Yintah – Territory 


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