No. 42Ocober 8, 2021
– www.yintahaccess.com –
All Out for Wedzin Kwa!
Renewal Update is producing below the most recent recap of events from the Gidimt’en Checkpoint, Wet’suwet’en territory, issued October 4, 2021.
“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” –Sleydo’, Spokesperson for Gidimt’en Checkpoint.
Under ‘Anuc niwh’it’en (Wet’suwet’en law) all Hereditary Chiefs of the five clans of the Wet’suwet’en have unanimously opposed all pipeline proposals and have not provided free, prior, and informed consent to Coastal Gaslink to drill on Wet’suwet’en lands.
[Since September 25], as Wet’suwet’en members of Cas Yikh and their supporters maintain control of a Coastal GasLink drill site that threatens their unceded territories, the RCMP has utilized excessive use of force and torturous pain compliance on land defenders.
What Is Happening at the Archaeology Site?
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 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. This archaeological site in particular is significant to the Wet’suwet’en in the protection of our cultural heritage for future generations and for protecting our oral histories and heritage values for ongoing rights and title negotiations. The creek is the home of the endangered lamprey eel, and runs directly into Wedzin Kwa through an ancient and documented village site.
The company continues to violate their own regulations and conditions set forward by governing bodies such as the 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. The consultation process and the permitting system is deeply flawed and acts merely as a rubber stamp process to allow industry to continue. Files sent to the Office of the Wet’suwet’en were encrypted and password protected. They were unable to be opened during the time frame for appeal, despite efforts to access them by Wet’suwet’en leadership. Silence does not equal consent and to push forward with destroying a culturally significant heritage site is deeply disturbing.
An archeologist working with Cas Yikh recently stated:
“A site alteration permit was granted for the purpose of clearing GbSs-8 to make way for the Coastal GasLink pipeline, but no information on the proposed work/clearing activities has been shared with OW, Wo’os, Cas Yikh, or this report’s author. What is known about the archaeology of Ts’elkay Kwe (Creek) is dismal. This is especially concerning given the sheer intensity with which the landscape was inhabited and used (according to oral and written testimonies) and the concentration of habitation and use sites (lithics, trails, and cultural depressions). As a result, any destruction to archaeological heritage in Ts’elkay Kwe (Creek) should be seen as a gross miscalculation on behalf of the proponent and their archaeologists. Indeed, given that no consultation or consent was granted for the site alteration permit, the course of site destruction is highly irregular and likely illegal.”
Many measures were taken to prevent the destruction of this site, including a Cease and Desist letter sent to all parties, including provincial ministers in charge of lands and forests, in which hereditary chief Dini ze’ Woos stated:
“To be clear, we do not authorize or consent to the removal of, or any “alteration” or impacts to, our archaeological heritage. According to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — a declaration implemented by the BC Government under Bill C41.”
What Is Happening at Wedzin Kwa?
Coastal Gaslink is preparing to drill under the Wedzin Kwa to construct their 670km fracked gas pipeline. We know this would be disastrous, not only for Wet’suwet’en people, but for all living beings supported by the Wedzin Kwa, and for the communities living downstream. Wedzin Kwa is a spawning ground for salmon and a critical source of pristine drinking water on the territory.
Wet’suwet’en members, including Freda Huson of Unist’ot’en, have been tirelessly working to maintain their access and jurisdiction to their territories for the last decade. The fight to save this river has been long and nuanced, with many wins and losses over the years. Many pipeline companies have sought to drill under these waters, and have used many colonial tactics of intimidation and violence against Wet’suwet’en people and supporters to wear us down. Yet the river still runs clean, and Wet’suwet’en still remain strong. This fight is far from over.
On the morning of September 25th, 2021, the access road to CGL’s drill site was destroyed. Blockades were set up and the site has been occupied to stop the drilling of these sacred headwaters that nourish the Yintah and all those within its catchment areas. Cas Yikh and supporters have taken control of the area and refuse to allow this destruction to continue.
Here is a recap of events from September 21-30:
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 also 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.
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 the construction of a methane gas pipeline.
Coastal Gaslink continued to clear the archeology site despite ongoing urges from Cas Yikh Chiefs and matriarchs to cease work. It is discovered that the drill site at Wedzin Kwa has been cleared and grated, indicating that drilling is imminent.
Fires are lit and Cas Yikh members and supporters gather 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.
DRILL SITE OCCUPIED
On the morning of September 25th, the access road to CGL’s drill site at Wedzin Kwa was destroyed. Blockades have been set up and site was occupied to stop the drilling under the sacred headwaters that nourish the Wet’suwet’en Yintah. Cas Yikh and supporters have gained control of the area and refuse 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.
Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs continue to support the occupation, and are successful along with their supporters to continue to hold the line. CGL is unable to access the site or perform any work.
The RCMP, trespassing on the Yintah on behalf of Coastal GasLink, made another arrest at the drill site. 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 in an ambulance.
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.
NATIONAL DAY OF TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION
“National Day of Truth and Reconciliation” takes 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.
What Can I Do?
Last year, the Wet’suwet’en and our allies saw a massive resurgence of solidarity and support in the #SHUTDOWNCANADA movement. Inspired by the recognition and belief in Indigenous Sovereignty and jurisdiction over their territories, many people rose up together and demonstrated a serious rejection to Canada’s agenda of land theft and genocide against Indigenous Peoples.
This year, we must go #AllOutForWedzinKwa!
The time is now to return our energy to this movement after the long slow pain of the past few isolating years. The river is imminently under threat, and the people on the ground in this remote community need your engagement, action and support.
Ways to Support
Come to the land: for information click here.
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 is 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)
– Commissioner and CEO, Paul Jeakins; (250 419 4411), email@example.com
– Katrine Conroy; (250 381 6240), firstname.lastname@example.org
– Project Lead, Meaghan Hoyle; (778 974-336), email@example.com
– Executive Project Director, Fern Stockman; (778 698-9313), Fern.Stockman@gov.bc.ca
– Compliance & Enforcement Lead, Compliance & Enforcement Branch (250-387-0131), firstname.lastname@example.org
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