WetsuwetenCoastal GasLink EvictionNov2021_14

In photos: inside the Gidimt’en eviction of Coastal GasLink

Almost two years after Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs issued an eviction order to the pipeline company, land defenders are now enforcing it along a remote forest service road

On Sunday, Nov. 14, pipeline company Coastal GasLink was given eight hours to immediately evacuate Gidimt’en clan territory near Houston, B.C. Hereditary chiefs served the mandatory order for all company workers and sub-contractors.

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Dinï ze’ (Chief) Woos, Frank Alec, granted a two hour extension to the evacuation timeline, but of the estimated 500 individuals housed at Coastal GasLink’s two remote work camps, only a handful left. Since then, land defenders seized a Coastal GasLink excavator and bulldozer and used them to dismantle parts of the Morice Forest Service Road, the main point of access to project sites and work camps.

The Gidimt’en clan and supporters have occupied a Coastal GasLink drill site near the Wedzin Kwa, or Morice River, to prevent drilling under the glacial river, since Sept. 25, 2021.

Gidimt’en camp spokesperson Sleydo’ Molly Wickham said inaction from B.C. and the federal government and failure to address and resolve Right and Title claims forced land defenders to take matters into their own hands and enforce an eviction order originally issued on Jan. 4, 2020, by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who oppose construction of the 670-kilometre pipeline.

“We were sending a clear message to the province, to Canada, and they weren’t acting on it — they weren’t hearing what we were saying — so we had to get a little bit louder,” Wickham told The Narwhal in an interview. “They’re destroying absolutely everything that is important to us in our territory. And they have been continuing to do work, despite the eviction order last year.”

Opposition to any pipeline’s construction has been strong from the Wet’suwet’en and their supporters for well over a decade. In December of 2019, a court issued an injunction against blockaders, giving RCMP officers authorization to make dozens of arrests last year, when land defenders blockaded the road and prevented work by the pipeline company and contractors.

Supporters stand guard to secure a road closure along the Morice Forest Service Road at kilometre 39 in Gidimt’en territory on Sunday, Nov. 14. Up until the road closure, the service road was a major thoroughfare for the pipeline project. The people who keep watch at Gidimt’en camp logged a convoy of six heavy trucks running through the road twice each day, carrying supplies, as well as a convoy of seven semi-trailer trucks carrying pipe each morning around 7 a.m. These individuals estimate hundreds of pickup trucks also travel the road each day carrying workers, security and police patrols.
Sleydo’ Molly Wickham greets supporters after they enforced the road closure. Wickham said she was happy to hear of Gitxsan solidarity actions taking place that included the temporarily closure of a rail line in New Hazelton.
Haudenosaunee supporters, left to right, Logan Staats, Teka’tsihasere (Corey Jocko), who also goes by the artist name Jayohcee, and Skyler Williams ride a seized Coastal GasLink excavator as they work to close the service road.The Haudenosaunee have been allies for the Wet’suwet’en since the 2020 enforcement action, and contributed to the #shutdowncanada movement those arrests sparked. This year, Mohawk supporters have walked police out of Coyote camp twice.
Teka’tsihasere (Corey Jocko) whoops and issues a war call in response to a Coastal GasLink security worker reading a statement from the company. “We’re here from the Coastal GasLink project,” the worker read. “We are here to conduct work on behalf of the Coast GasLink project and you are impeding us. Can you please move your blockade out of the area?”
Supporters burned the copy of the injunction Coastal GasLink workers delivered to the blockade.
Coastal GasLink pipeline’s right of way cutting through Gidimt’en territory. The 670-kilometre gas pipeline crosses over 190 kilometres of relatively intact Wet’suwet’en territory.
Haudenosaunee supporters Skyler Williams, back, and Aktsi’io look on as trees are felled along the service road.
A Coastal GasLink worker leaves Gidimt’en territory in the early morning of Nov. 14.
Freezing breath is caught in a flashlight beam used to help signal to oncoming drivers that there are obstructions on the
road while land defenders and their supporters stand guard.
Haudenosaunee supporters help to maintain the road closure.
A supporter uses a flare to mark the road closure.
Staats smudges himself after helping to enforce the road closure.
An excavator is hung with red dresses to signify the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls at Coyote camp.

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We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

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