Coastal GasLink has sought a court injunction to access the Morice River bridge, over which access is currently being controlled by the Unist’ot’en, and they are not happy with the injunction.
With LNG Canada’s decision to build a liquefied natural gas plant near Kitimat, Coastal GasLink needs access across the bridge and public access roads beyond to build a 670-kilometre pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat. The bridge is located about 60 kilometres southwest of Houston.
The application and other court documents were served on the individuals involved in the blockade as required by B.C. Supreme Court, according to a statement from Coastal GasLink.
“However, for the Coastal GasLink team, this decision was not taken lightly,” reads the statement. “Unfortunately, after years of attempting to engage the blockade to work through a solution, this step has become a last resort and a necessary action in our efforts to safely gain access to the area. As we have done in the past, we will continue to keep the lines of communications open to work towards a mutually beneficial outcome. At this point in time, we must focus our attention on taking the necessary legal steps in our application for an injunction order through the legal system.”
The Unist’ot’en maintain that the camp is not a blockade, a protest, or a demonstration, but rather a “permanent, non-violent occupation of Unist’ot’en territory, established to protect our homelands from illegal industrial encroachments and to preserve a space for our community to heal from the violence of colonization.”
The Unist’ot’en are upset that instead of naming the Unist’ot’en house group and hereditary chiefs (Dinï ze’ and Ts’akë ze’), who collectively hold title and govern Unist’ot’en territory according to Anuk Nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law), the legal actions target individuals.
Since 2015, the Unist’ot’en have operated a three-storey healing centre and hosted gatherings for Indigenous women and youth. This centre is currently home to Wet’suwet’en community members who are receiving holistic and land based treatment for addictions.
“This is our house group’s work, it’s a shared vision and purpose,” said Dr. Karla Tait, Unist’ot’en house group member. “The fact that this company can make a civil suit thinking that Freda Huson and Warner Naziel are the only ones standing in the way of their project is utterly ignorant and out of touch with all that we stand for as Unist’ot’en and as Indigenous people. It shows that they have no understanding and appreciation for the relationship that we have with our territories, and the relationships we have with one another as members of a house group, of a clan, of a nation.”
She says the Unist’ot’en see the injunction as a direct challenge to the safety of residents and “an extension of the colonial violence from which we are trying to heal.”