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Scene from international rally in support of Unist’o’ten clans of northern BC at Nathan Phillips Square on January 8, 2019. I counted 2000-plus protestors at Yonge-Dundas Square. Many more would join the walk to the Financial District where several round dances stopped traffic.

The demonstrators were friendly and engaged at Tuesday’s (January 8) rally in Toronto in support of land protectors of the Unist’ot’en clan in northern BC. But they’re also testy over news the RCMP had moved the day before on the Unist’ot’en protest camp that has been blocking a number of pipeline plans, including TransCanada’s Coastal Gas Link, since 2009. Fourteen people were arrested.

A bit of excitement breaks out near the end of the Toronto action as some protestors try to pay an impromptu visit on the officers of one of TransCanada’s investors at 100 University.

Most were stopped by security before they were able to get on the elevators but a dozen or so people managed to get up to the offices to make their point and back down again without being arrested.

For many Canadians, the idea that Canada is on the road to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, died that day.

As Indigenous rights activist Jesse Wente told the crowd at Yonge-Dundas Square, “Reconciliation does not come at the end of a gun.” It’s called the TransCanada Coastal GasLink Pipeline – CGL for short.

The proposed pipeline starts in the fracked gas fields of northeastern British Columbia and will snake through more than 670 kilometres of rugged mountain to Kitimat, where a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Plant will compress the methane into a super-cooled liquid for shipping.

The purpose of the pipeline and the $40 billion LNG facility is to enable five multinationals based in Korea, Holland, Malaysia, China and Japan to ship BC’s gas reserves in tankers through its coastal fjords post-haste and onto an increasingly iffy global petroleum market.

But what happens to those who refuse to sign on to last century’s vision of energy and employment? Or to those who have a deep history and connection to the surrounding landscape, whose stewardship doesn’t line up with the ambitions of governments and multinational corporations?

The Canadian public found out on January 7 when the RCMP sent heavily armed police to break up the Unist’ot’en clan’s protest camp in unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.

The Unist’ot’en established a checkpoint in the path of several proposed pipelines by a bridge that is the only access to the area in 2009. They’ve held off construction ever since, building a community at the camp with a permaculture garden and a healing centre.

Freda Huson of the Unist’ot’en says, “All Wet’suwet’en clans have rejected the pipeline because our medicines, our food and our water are all here and not replaceable.” Huson and her partner Warner Naziel (aka Chief Smogelgem) have been spokespeople for the Unist’ot’en camp.

Last month, CGL went to court to request an injunction to stop them, “and all other persons unknown to the Plaintiff, [from] occupying, obstructing, blocking, physically impeding or delaying access, at or in the vicinity of the area.”

Though the Unist’ot’en Camp people were given until January 31 to prepare further arguments for the judge to consider, BC Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church awarded CGL an interim injunction effective December 17.

John Ridsdale (aka hereditary Chief Namoks) told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network he was “heartbroken” by the decision. Other clans quickly moved in to support the Unist’ot’en land protectors. On December 18, CGL employees were stopped by a new checkpoint set up by the neighbouring Gitdumt’en clan.

The camp had been on tenterhooks throughout the holidays as nearby towns started filling up with RCMP , the […]

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