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Is shit about to get real at BC's pipeline blockade?

Maybe. Here's how we'll know.

by Zoe Blunt

Photo by Aaron Lakoff
Photo by Aaron Lakoff

Also posted by Zoe Blunt:

(Disclaimer: I don't speak for Unis'tot'en Camp. This analysis comes from first-hand reports, anonymous tips, and public sources. The situation could change at any time. Updates are posted at the Caravan page, http://facebook.com/nopipelines, and the Unis'tot'en Camp page, http://facebook.com/unistoten.)

Unis'tot'en Camp, the indigenous pipeline blockade on Wet'suwet'en territory in Northern BC, is in its fifth year. The camp is located on so-called "Crown land" that the government of BC claims to own. (The Wet'suwet'en people have a pre-existing claim, of course.) The log cabin, bunkhouse, and permaculture garden are in the middle of the right-of-way for three pipelines bound for Kitimat: Enbridge Northern Gateway, Coastal Gas, and Pacific Trail. The road into Unis'tot'en Clan territory is closed to pipeline crews.

The camp is surrounded by supporters at the Morice River bridge blockade and across Turtle Island. They are in high spirits, even though they are supposedly facing a deadline for eviction on June 15. Or so said one Pacific Trail Pipeline representative at a public meeting last month.

So are cops and pipeline workers getting ready to come into the camp?

The short answer: It's possible. But there's no sign of any crackdown yet. We are asking everyone to keep their eyes and ears open.

In April, the camp hosts got a tip that the pipeline company was meeting with the Premier of BC about seeking a court order to evict the indigenous blockaders from their land. (A senior company official denies any such plans.)

A court order is the usual legal method for removing protesters. However, anyone who tries to get an injunction against Unis'tot'en Camp will have to deal with me and Forest Action Network and our lawyers. We've moved to intervene in that process by putting the companies on notice that we will fight them in court. This will buy time at least, and the odds are good that we can defeat an application and stave off any eviction attempts. More info on that: http://forestaction.wikidot.com/news.

It's possible that the authorities may try to get around the injunction requirement, but trying to flout established legal process is risky and liable to fail.

In summary: no injunction application has been made, and the camp is not breaking any laws. There are no reports of police harassment or surveillance at the camp or on the road.

The grassroots Wet'suwet'en people are asserting their right and responsibility to defend their land. The Supreme Court has ruled that outside of treaty areas, indigenous people hold title to their own land.

Will we have any warning when shit's about to get real?

Yes, probably. We need to be vigilant. Here are some warning signs:

- We would expect to see police on the road and near the camp, watching or hassling people. They might use helicopters or even drones.
- We should be alert for attempts to question or coerce activists.
- We should watch for misinformation and slander aimed at the camp and the caravan.

Aside from a few instances of slander and misinformation, these things are not happening yet.

What if we are caught by surprise? Will people have a chance to leave without arrest?

Yes, probably. It is standard procedure to give people the opportunity to leave and not face arrest.

How do we deal with this?

We're calling on our allies to be united, prepare for the worst, and encourage everyone to be brave. Don't spread rumours. Exercise caution and use activist security measures. Follow the instructions of the camp hosts. Don't talk to police for any reason.

We can win this, but it will be the fight of our lives. You don't have to be on the frontlines, but we are asking you to be a supporter.

Support the Eco Warriors legal defense fund: http://gofundme.com/ecowarriors

Keep your ear to the ground. Send anonymous tips to our secure account at wildcoast(at)riseup.net.

Join us on the frontlines. Get info and sign up here: http://wildcoast.ca/caravan

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