Sometime this spring, Dave Ages will make his way to a remote First Nations camp in northern B.C.
The former Vancouver man had made that journey before, drawn by a profound respect for indigenous self-determination and a deep concern for the planet.
For Ages, the encampment by some members of the Unist'ot'en clan of the Wet'suwet'en Nation isn’t just a physical barrier blocking the passage of oil and gas pipelines. It embodies aspirations for an alternative future for everyone.
“It’s the question of climate change,” Ages told the Straight in a phone interview, “and seeing that there are very clearly ways forward for this country, which both allow us to, you know, have a secure future for the country, but which, you know, moves in a direction, which isn’t going to destroy the planet through climate change.”
“To me, if these pipelines get built and the billions of dollars that it would cost them to build get spent,” the Galiano resident also said, “then we’re locking ourselves into a future tied to fossil fuels, instead of tying ourselves into a future of alternative energies and alternative economic strategies.”
The Unist'ot'en camp may be hundreds of kilometres away from Metro Vancouver, and besides, there’s planned twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline that local activists worry about, but for Ages, these are all connected.
“Climate change doesn’t understood borders, right? This is a worldwide issue, and, you know, we have to do what we can. And the fundamental debate in this province is about whether our future is tied to fossil fuels or not, and that means taking a stand on all of those issues, and particular, with pipelines,” he said.
Ages has been helping build the camp with his skills in carpentry.
This spring, he and others will work on the second phase of a planned 6,000-square-foot building that will serve as a “healing lodge” mostly for indigenous youth.
The first phase has been completed: a 2,000-foot-space on two storeys with a large kitchen and dining hall that can sit 50 people.
When completed, the healing lodge will have additional residential accommodations.
A bunk house, which sleeps 15 people, was built two years ago. There’s also a log cabin, which provides additional living space. According to Ages, there are other structures in the camp to store firewood, tools, and snowmobiles.
“It’s a physical embodiment of the sovereignty of the Unist'ot'en people over their land,” Ages said.
A benefit concert will be held on April 1 to raise funds for the camp. The concert will feature Five Alarm Funk, The Boom Booms, Jack Garton’s Demon Squadron, and Ta’kaiya Blaney at the Imperial (319 Main Street). Doors open at 7:30 p.m.