Wet’suwet’en clans blockade Pacific Trails Pipelines

When Dini Ze’ Toghestiy of the Likhts’amisyu clan and Dini Ze’  Kloum Klun of the Unist’ot’en clan heard word that Pacific Trails Pipeline had started to bring drilling equipment into their traditional territories without proper consultation, they immediately organized a blockade near Gosnell River.

On August 23rd 2010, Wet’suwet’en elder Hagwilakw served Enbridge with a trespass feather with the declaration there “WILL BE NO PIPELINES IN OUR TERRITORIES” and the crowd at the Smithers Council Chambers cheered. For the past few years community members have been actively building a large cabin at Morice Camp, that is on a GPS point that is in direct line for the proposed pipeline.  The positioning of this reclamation of their traditional stewardship was their first blockade action. 

On Monday November 7th Dini Ze’ Toghestiy of the Likhts’amisyu clan and Dini Ze’  Kloum Klun of the Unist’ot’en clan received information from a whistle-blower on the drilling crew that they were starting to bring equipment in. Kloum Klun agreed to give his support to Toghestiy to go out and blockade and evict the drilling crew until proper consultation was held with the Wet’suwet’en people. Soon after midnight Toghestiy had recruited Henry Rosso and stepson Hank Mitchell and they left Smithers for Morice Camp. By 530 they were set up alongside Morice West waiting for the drillers to arrive and attempt entry into the territory.
At 7am Toghestiy, Henry Rosso and Hank Mitchell encountered 2 trucks from the drilling company. Henry moved his truck across the road and Toghestiy informed the trucks they would need to turn around and inquired about some drilling equipment that had been left on Shae Rd. The trucks agreed to turn around and explained that the equipment had been flown in and they would need to return after talking with their superiors to retrieve it. The workers in the blue truck even cheered the blockaders on and a logging truck driver who was waiting to use the bridge joined in with “Kick their ass!! KICK THEIR ASS!!”

The next morning the drilling crew returned at 11am with a low-bed transport truck in tow to retrieve their drilling equipment. After talking it over Toghestiy, Henry Rosso and Hank Mitchell decided to let the crew through but warned them that they were expecting more support and would be making sure they were doing exactly what they claimed. When they traveled up that afternoon to check on them, they passed the white jeep abandoned in the ditch and could hear a helicopter. After verifying that they were loading the trailer on the flatbed, they attempted to turn Henry’s truck around and with the poor weather they too ended up in the ditch. A PTP driller came to assist them and disclosed they they had been instructed last week to move mining equipment in “as soon as humanly possible” while the Wet’suwet’en community was busy dealing with a funeral. He also shared “Nobody wants to see any pipelines in the north, - especially one that operates as dirty as this one. Have a good day guys and good luck”. 

After a lot of maneuvering back and forth they eventually got Henry’s truck out of the ditch and started making their way down to their checkpoint when they ran into Kloum Khun. After reassuring him that the drilling crews were only retrieving their gear they all proceeded to the bridge where they made a fire and waited for the trucks to pass back through. As the flatbed approached they noticed that the low-bed was missing many pieces that had been loaded onto it for transport.
A PTP employee got out and apologized for not having all of the equipment and promised to return the next day. Kloum Khun quickly spoke up and told him “Do you see that sign up there? It says, NO PIPELINES. We want to just be sure that you guys are taking everything out of the territory because we do not want you guys here”.

The flat bed returned for the rest of the equipment the next day.

On November 15 they sent out this press release:

Setting up a road blockade with signs “Road Closed to Pacific Trails Pipeline Drillers”, an alliance of the Unist’ot’en and the Likhts’amisyu of the Wet’suwet’en Nation have evicted and escorted out Pacific Trails Pipeline drillers and their equipment.

According to Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief Toghestiy, “We evicted Pacific Trails Pipeline drillers from our territory this weekend. The drillers in one vehicle actually cheered for our blockade and one driller told us ‘Nobody wants to see any pipelines in the North – especially one that operates as dirty as this one. Have a good day guys and good luck.’”

“Pacific Trails Pipeline had moved in equipment to do directional drilling around Gosnell River where our salmon spawn. Their exploratory drilling and whole pipeline proposal will spell certain disaster in the Peace River area. We have to protect our sensitive aquifers from the destruction of pipelines – from the Alberta Tar Sands to our side of the Rocky Mountains. You cannot make compromises with the life-sustaining force of water” continues Toghestiy.

Kloum Khun, a Likhts’amisyu hereditary Chief who also participated in the blockade, said: “We had a sign that said ‘No Pipelines’ and pointed it out to the drillers. We told them to take out all their equipment from our territory.”

The Pacific Trails Pipeline, official known as the Kitimat Summit Lake (KSL) gas pipeline, is a proposed natural gas pipeline that will move upto 1 million cubic feet per day of natural gas from Summit Lake near Prince George to Kitimat using an underground 36 inch diameter pipeline with an 18-metre right of way on each side. Much of this natural gas is acquired through the environmentally destructive process of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. After processing, the natural gas would be shipped in supertankers from ports in Kitamat to the international market. In February 2011, Pacific Northern Gas sold its stake in the project to the Apache Corporation and EOG Resources (formerly Enron).

The Pacific Trails Pipeline has a similar proposed right-of-way as Enbridge Pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory. According to Toghestiy: “Enbridge is using the fact that Pacific Trails is proposing the same right of way as Enbridge to mitigate their own ecological footprint on our territory.” During a May 2011 interview with Fox News, Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel discussed Enbridge’s move into the natural gas market and the possibility of “synergies” between the Enbridge’s Gateway Project and the Pacific Trails Pipeline.

The $5.5-billion proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would carry 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Alberta to Kitimat. In August 2010, representatives of Enbridge in Smithers, Michelle Perret and Kevin Brown, received formal notice from Wet’suweten hereditary chiefs Hagwilakw and Toghestiy that Enbridge did not have permission to build a pipeline on their lands and was trespassing on unceded Wet’suwet’en lands.

Freda Huson, a spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en, says her community was not consulted about these proposed pipelines: “The corporations never informed us or consulted us about their plans. Pacific Trail Pipeline’s proposed route is through two main salmon spawning channels which provide our staple food supply. We have made the message clear to Enbridge and Pacific Trails and all of industry: We cannot and will not permit any pipelines through our territory.”

The Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en participated in the First and Second Indigenous Assembly Against Mining and Pipelines in BC. Says Mel Bazil: “The plans of Christy Clark and the BC government to push mining and pipeline developments into our territories will fail. We reject the short-term interests of profit that motivates those mining and pipeline developments that are trespassing on our unceded Indigenous lands.

Kleco Kleco
Marika Swan, Tla-o-qui-aht Nation
Redwire Native Youth Media Society
Our Voices, Our Strories, Our Future
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On December 9th there will be a Day of Action in Vancouver… check out the attached flyer for more info.
Related article on Media Co-op
Recent redwiremag.com reportback from the 2nd Indigenous Assembly Against Mining and Pipelines

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