Wet’suwet’en First Nation group warns Enbridge: "You're going to be walking out"

A chain has gone up across a bridge over the Morice River near Smithers, B.C.

In a telephone interview, Freda Huson told the Straight that the barrier was erected in response to the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s June 17 conditional approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline.

In a video posted on YouTube shortly after that decision was announced, Huson, a spokesperson for the Unist'ot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, describes how her group plans to respond if Enbridge attempts to begin pipeline construction through the area.

“They can go ahead and try and put their project through here,” Husan states in the video. “They will be considered trespassers. And we'll enforce Wet'suet'en law against any trespassers. You bring any equipment on here, it's going to belong to us. You're going to be walking out.”

Speaking to the Straight, Huson explained that the route proposed for Northern Gateway traverses territory that belongs to the Wet’suwet’en. She described that land as never sold, ceded, surrendered, signed away in a treaty, or lost in war.

“They don’t have any jurisdiction over our territory,” Huson repeated. “So they have a duty to consult, they did consult, and our people said ‘No’.”

The bridge Huson mentioned serves as the lone road into a small settlement called the Unist'ot’en camp that her people began constructing in 2010. Its location was strategically selected using a global positioning system to obstruct the path planned for the Pacific Trail natural gas pipeline. The settlement has since been expanded in opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would follow a similar route across the province.

Originally a lone cabin, there’s now a pit house, permaculture garden, and a bunk house with beds for 20 people. “We’re planning on developing a community there and living there permanently,” Huson said.

She noted that traffic over the bridge has been controlled for some time with a vehicle blocking the passage of people deemed unwelcome in the territory.

“Most people, they have to go through a series of protocol questions,” Huson said. “Who are you? Where are you from? How long do you plan to stay? Do you work for an industry or government that is destroying our lands? And how will your visit benefit my people?”

In 2012 activists from Victoria travelled to the Unist'ot’en camp in support of First Nations people building a settlement there in the path of the Pacific Trail Pipeline.

Northern Gateway is planned to carry 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen and 193,000 barrels of condensate per day between the Alberta tar sands (also known as oil sands) and Kitimat, British Columbia.

The Wet'suwet'en is one of nearly 30 B.C. First Nations and tribal councils that signed their names to a June 17 announcement declaring they would mount a court challenge against the Northern Gateway project.

“We unequivocally reject the Harper Government’s decision to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway tanker and pipelines project and First Nations will immediately go to court to vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project,” that statement reads. “This project, and the federal process to approve it, violated our rights and our laws. We are uniting to defend our lands and waters of our respective territories. Our rights and laws compel us to act.”

According to an Enbridge website discussing Northern Gateway's “benefits” for First Nations, the company has so-far held more than 2,000 meetings and 43 open houses with First Nations groups. It’s also stated there that aboriginal communities located along the pipeline’s proposed route “will have access to existing stewardship and habitat protection initiatives”.

Husan is scheduled to speak in Vancouver in support of the Unist'ot'en camp on June 27 at the Astorino's Ballroom. “We’ll be talking about our camp, what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Husan said. “A lot of people have been providing support and this is our way of giving them a report on what their funds are covering.”

Comments (24) Add New Comment
Forest
Good! BC First Nations are showing us all that they are the Leaders in this battle. I, for one, will follow their lead.
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RUK
Pathetic. Way to empower and justify the state violence monopoly.
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Sharkfin
This is bullshit. I've worked with Enbridge elsewhere and run into First Nations issues that cause a lot of headache and cost. They stopped jobs, held up equipment, and made life difficult for a lot of people just trying to do their jobs. In the end it seems they are just looking for another payout. And this whole concept that First Nations people can just take equipment is completely outrageous. My company has also run into this issue in the past and it is a genuine hindrance on business and completely archaic.
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Zoe
I really don't think this specific group of First Nations is looking for a payout. At the same time, I also don't think anybody is suggesting that actions like this one are not a genuine hindrance on business. That's part of the point of such actions.

These groups' argument is that minimizing climate change and environmental destruction is more important than allowing business as usual to continue in ways that are no longer sustainable.

Sorry for the inconvenience. We are only trying to change the world.
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jusayin
While this tribe is resisting economic growth, they should consider where the money they get from the federal government comes from.
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Meathead
I'll assume Freda Huson is just another Idle No Moron out to get attention by protesting whatever evil happens to be in vogue at the moment. In actuallity the Wet'suwet'en First Nation is in support of both the LNG and the Northern Gateway pipeline. The more rational elements and leadership is fully aware these project will bring prosperity, jobs and a better standard of living to their people. While they are being cautious and expect honest consultation from the Government and the pipeline companies, they feel it would be a net benefit to them, much to the chagin of people like Ms. Huson.

http://wetsuwetenfirstnation.ca/


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Sky
I'm really thankful for what you guys are doing. You actually have the power to stop this project from going through. We owe you.
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Sky
Whoever doesn't realize the potential disasters of this project lacks any kind of spirituality and connection to nature. Without healthy environment economy doesn't mean shit
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Columbia Valley
When are people going to get it through their heads that this was and is Native land - all of it.
What did the white man do when he got here - did he ask if he could come and stay? Did he get along peaceably with the Native population? NO. He gave them blankets infected with smallpox. He starved them out; killed all the buffalo; put these wise people on reserves. Here we are now in the 21st century and what is happening - the same damn thing. What gives Harper the right to put a pipeline across Native territory? So it gives jobs - money is not going to help if there's a rupture and the land gets polluted. I'm not even going to start on the travesty that is the tar sands - big enough to see from space and poisoning all the people downstream. Then there's the tracking - pretty nice to be able to set your tap water on fire!
This land is already very fragile and that's assuming we aren't getting fried by Fukushima radiation. They've already found irradiated fish in the Fraser and now you want to add the possibility of an oil spill if you can call it oil which it isn't.
We need to start healing this land and start getting along with each other not start a war. I can see where people who work in the oil industry are coming from and get it that you're putting a roof over your head and feeding your kids - so are the Natives. This is their backyard and they get a lot of their food and all their water from it. How would you like a pipeline going across your back yard?
Mr. Harper and his party have a lot to answer for already as well as our Provincial Liberal party who are the most hard hearted, greedy bunch I've ever witnessed.
If the Natives need a hand I'd be proud to stand beside you. The government should be spending their energy righting the wrongs of the past and listening to these original inhabitants of this beautiful and fragile country. I'm sick and tired of people saying that Natives are looking for handouts and even if that were true - don't they deserve something for all they and stolen from them?
Thanks for standing up to these bullies as another person commented - we owe you.
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Bear_Code
This is BC's time to make its point against those that have no regard for how we choose to live. We will stand firm, we will not back up, we will not harm, and if they shoot us Harper loses. We won't fail and Ottawa and Alberta can go entertain themselves elsewhere.
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devils advocate
we cant allow a very small group of eco-anarchists stop development...We know they don't like the project but too bad as it is beneficial for the other 35 million or so Canadians.

Pathetic that these two main people think they can just go back to living off the land contributing nothing to society....Yet, they will want to drive to a hospital if someone gets hurt for immediate attention. Guess where the money came from for the hospital you idiots??? yes, resource development.

As for 'unceded land', this means nothing...as you haven't successfully made a claim to it. BC govt supports land selection model of land claims not vast generic areas like natives want...So, unceded really means not decided.

Lastly, the Supreme Court says native rights can be infringed in certain cases. Projects like this is one of those cases. We cant let half a dozen anarchists control development for the country.
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cathy
Standing up for the land, water and clean air to big greedy corporations and governments who give 'permission' to destroy forever-this is something to be supported.
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Crystal
Pffffft looking for payout come on use your head they only get $$$$ if the pipe goes through there saying NO not now or ever!!!
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Taylor Summerfield
This is a great forum, I like it when we can read other peoples remarks regarding the undiplomatic actions of Harper. It is easy to see who's side people are on, unfortunately it has come to that in our country in terms of land claims and management of natural resources. You are on the aboriginal side or the governments side.....because the gov only wants to appear like they are passionate about our interests when all they want is to cash in on Canada's natural resources. Sure the gov gave payouts to the generation of aboriginals who deserved it, because let us all face it, a tiny percentage of the population of Canada really knows who an aboriginal is or how aboriginals continue to survive in this Country. Not many people have the right to comment on indigenous issues, because it is the aboriginals indigenous MINORITY of Canada who live on reserves (an encampment strategically established to keep "Indians" away from the new populations who arrived in Canada with money or ambition to change things for their own will) Our Canadian history books are not as accurate as many believe, much is left out, genocide, murder, torcher, starvation and more which was inflicted by our own Canadian government. These facts still live in the minds of elders who actually survived residential school (an effort to conform aboriginals in violent ways.)
This paragraph goes out to RUK!! You are pathetic, I am just guessing but judging by your attitude(sorry I do not normally judge people, but this is an exception to my rule), "Way to empower and justify the state violence monopoly.".
Nice try, you are trying to put a stigma on aboriginals as being pathetic, well fuck you and your oppression. Because what our countries do on a global scale is happening to our own Canadian indigenous populations. Maybe you are too stupid to see the parallels, or your motive is to jump on the oppressive bandwagon and keep us from living our lives the way we want to in peace with nature, because we need to give our planet some attention, because nature has sacrificed too much already for us. It has to be a symbiotic relationship, which humankind is obliterating. Incidentally RUK, if you wanna share your thoughts on this drop me a line anytime partner, because anyone with any sense does not want to hear what you have to say. Have a nice day.
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Big Deal
The pipeline will be built and those bands that get on board will be doing better for their people than the bands that oppose the program. Linking this to "Idle No More" is ridiculous. INM was an effort to distract internal dissidents within the national aboriginal organizations from questioning poor management and misuse of funds at dozens of bands nationwide. People who began to question the salaries of Chiefs higher than that of the PM, salaries and expenses of band officials, as well as payments to individual band members being taken by band leadership and sought audits independent of Ottawa. They wanted internal investigation and accountability but those opposed to the potential airing of dirty laundry took action.

Teresa Spence's "hunger strike" was closer to a diet or fast but was the perfect distraction and the demands of unity stopped the infighting. Old line leadership that distrusts Chiefs from successful bands saw the opening and needed something more than a woman with questionable dealings as a Chief eating less and helped AstroTurf Idle No More into the news. Now any aboriginal leader who doesn't toe the party line is subject to censure. Chiefs who led their bands to self-sufficiency by demanding accountability & responsibility while fulfilling their duties as community leaders by assisting rather than enabling those in need don't fit into the INM narrative.

The Wet’suwet’en band leadership have an opportunity to leverage Enbridge's needs into their people's long term gain. Enbridge will pay through the nose for access through the history of the pipeline and the power of the Wet’suwet’en position is such that no reasonable demands could be refused. Guarantees of training & work for youth, establishment of an account set aside for cleaning of any spills of Wet’suwet’en land, annual payments for the pipeline itself as well as regular condition checks in concert with a Wet’suwet’en employed engineer would be straight forward enough. Opposing the pipeline won't stop it being built and failing to exploit Enbridge's need would leave the Wet’suwet’en worse off than reaching a negotiated settlement.
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Taylor Summerfield
Dear Devils Advocate,

You must be Harpers son, or possibly Harper himself, who knows but typical responses like yours only convey ignorance. You do not know what you are talking about because aboriginals still live off the land for the most part. I can't sit here and type all day to explain to you all the pieces your thought processess are lacking. Aboriginal peoples protect the land from people like you, or at least we have tried to approach the government in your diplomatic way, but you are RIGHT it does not work against 30 million or so immigrants you dumbass. Oh yeah devil, all land is aboriginal land in Canada, from which you have infringed on, and monopolized and continue to do so. I am all for development, but there is a smarter way to work. Lil' devil, you better be careful in what you say in the real world, something bad could happen to you if you keep that talk up. But you are a coward hiding behind a computer name so I doubt you are strong enough to stand up for what is right...as irritated as I am at your successful attempt in instigation, I ultimately feel sorry for you. I hope you get smarter with age, but in your case I doubt it...lol.
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Taylor Summerfield
Dear big deal,

I see what you are saying with the finger pointing and accountability, thank you for clarifying that, because it is a home run for federal politicians to set up indigenous groups who have little or no background in any of the skills required in comparison to the professionals who have done the pushing. I live on a reserve so I have witnessed and experienced much of what others wish they knew about. Education and maintaining health is where we should have already succeeded by now. But we need focused individuals in power who will stick by their guns and appreciate integrity. Feds are to slippery when it comes to anything. Remember when our mothers gave us shit when we were children, for covering a lie with a lie, well our federal government has to live by this constant smoke and mirrors.
I thought about how Canada let's many immigrants in, and how many do not understand our governments Mandate....or even what a democracy is.(not that we are operating in a democratical state) You can see how easy it is for them to minipulate a population who's English language is turning out to be secondary to whichever multicultural tongue who has arrived.
Thank you from your concerned aboriginal Taylor.
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teth adam
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

Getting a better price for our oil from asian rim countries will only help pay for these moonbats' social programs.

Reminds of spoiled teenagers living off their rich parents while sprouting leftist rhetoric. Only possible due to their parents.
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Taylor Summerfield
Teth,

I agree the needs of many are at stake, and we all want what is best for humanity in establishing a healthy relationship with eachother and preserving our environment.

I have to tolerate peoples ignorance in this monopoly, from both sides, I am not pretending to know all the answers, but I know when we find that common ground we can all move forward in harmony.

I wish great things for all of us and our children, a few tweaks in parliament and we could be running like a well oiled machine.

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tony james
I live in the UK you have my utmost support we only have one world .It seems as though there are a minority out there ,hell bent on trying to destroy it ,and what for ? short term personal gain . resources such as oil/gas are only finite .Where as the sun and the wind are almost infinite ... its not ignorance its common sense ...
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