At “Chasm,” the first night’s stopping point of 1200km journey up to unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.
Psychedelic Cedar artwork on the Vancouver Island Community Action Network’s badass Action Bus.
The action bus, also known as the vibrating oven, gets packed with thirty people and hundreds of pounds of food and gear, and takes two and a half days to reach Unist’ot’en territory. The bus reaches top speeds roughly equivalent to an out-of-shape cyclist while traveling up any degree of upward slope.
Finally in Wet’suwet’en territory.
About to depart from Klanada and enter unceded Unist’ot’en land. The Unist’ot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en first nation has reasserted their ancient custom of requiring free, prior, and informed consent from each person wishing to cross into their territory. If they cannot answer questions like, “how will your visit benefit our people,” or “do you work for industry or government who are destroying our lands,” they will be turned away.
The bridge across the Wedzin Kwah sends a clear message to industry aircrafts seeking to gain access to the territory without following the free, prior, and informed consent protocol. On July 22nd, the day after the action camp concluded, land defenders evicted a group of Transcanada employees in the back of Unist’ot’en territory who were carrying out prerequisite work on the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline.
This was the third and final pipeline company to be evicted from Unist’ot’en territory.
The Warrior-Up Bunkhouse (which was completed at the end of the action camp) sleeps thirty-plus people and has a woodstove, two huge lofts, a shower, covered storage, and, best of all, is wheelchair accessible.
Installing the stove pipe in the bunkhouse.
Anti-pipeline screen prints.
Mural painted during the action camp.
Devils Club on the walk up to the pithouse.
After building a solar-powerd log cabin home directly in the path of the proposed Pacific Trails pipeline, the company shifted their route by 2km. This traditional Wet’suwet’en pithouse stands directly in the pipeline’s new route.
Each log of the pit house is charred to protect it from insects. The pit was dug with hand tools and took 17 days to complete. It took an additional full month to char-preserve all the logs used in construction.
Toghestiy speaks about the pit house. The structure is the first in a slough of cultural revitalization projects the Unist’ot’en camp has in the works.
After seeing the success of the pit house project, neighboring clans have formed plans to build pit houses in their territory. In this way, the camp functions as a gateway to decolonization for indigenous people across turtle island waging struggles against illegitimate colonial powers.
“It’s the first time a pit house has been built on this territory in probably 180 years,” Toghestiy said. There are several pit house depressions in the area which indicate continued Wet’suwet’en occupation of this land since time immemorial.
A land defender sits atop the pit house he took part in constructing. In the background, the forest battles a pine beetle infestation linked to global warming.
Because of heavy insulation and a sunken floor, the structure will stay cool in the summer and retain heat in the winter, making it a perfect dwelling for a family living out on the land with limited access to petroleum for modern heating systems.
The next step in construction is to cover the logs in burlap, place the excavated dirt back onto the structure, and then cover the dirt with native plants. Once the grasses take root, the roof will be water-tight.
Pie not pipelines! Meals at the action camp are cooked by a rotating volunteer kitchen staff and served three delicious times a day. Traditional foods such as moose and salmon are served at meal times in a diversity of forms.
Freda and Toghestiy, our generous camp hosts, about to indulge in some anti-pipeline pie. Traditional Wet’suwet’en music was played at many of the meals, to the delight of everyone.
An image from the 22 hour, non-stop bus ride from Unist’ot’en territory back to the south coast. For more information and to learn how you can support the Unist’ot’en struggle, visit: http://unistotencamp.com/