I often don’t know what I will write when I sit to try to capture the day’s story. It is a spiritual practice, to try to hear what the Spirit is saying to me. Recently I was led to begin to learn about the Wet’suwet’en peoples.
January 13, 2020, I first learned about the Wet’suwet’en peoples in British Columbia,Canada, and their struggles against the construction of fossil fuel pipelines on their land. What caught my attention was the headline, “All CGL workers have now been peacefully evicted from Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en territories.” I watched the following video, “Coastal Gaslink Evicted from Unist’ot’en Territory.”
This was amazing. All my adult life I have been asking people to stop burning so much fossil fuel. Including giving up personal automobile, as I had done over 40 years ago. I had no success in convincing others to do so.
In 2013 I was trained as an Action Lead in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, where I learned how to plan nonviolent direct actions, and train people in Indianapolis how to participate in those actions. Then beginning in 2016 I helped others work to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.
One of the tools we used were actions to divest from banks funding fossil fuel projects. In Indianapolis that included MorganStanley, Chase bank, and PNC bank. I was blessed to join other water protectors in a demonstration in front of USBank in Minneapolis (on Super Bowl weekend). https://jeffkisling.com/2019/11/19/black-snake/
It was also transformative for me to spend a week with Native and non-native people as we walked 94 miles along the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline, from Des Moines to Fort Dodge, Iowa, on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March. I had long wanted to learn more about Indigenous peoples and their cultures of protecting Mother Earth. I’m thankful to have made new friends, people with passion to protect Mother Earth.
Another benefit of these new friendships was being able to check whether new things I was learning were valid. There is so much misinformation today in social media and news channels.
When I began to learn about the Wet’suwet’en peoples and their work for more than the a decade to protect their ancestral lands, I was told by some of my Native friends these stories are true. I also learned from Miriam, who walked on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, that she had visited the Wet’suwet’en territory and what a moving experience it was.
The more I learn about the Wet’suwet’en people, the more impressed I am. They are building community and structures to practice their beliefs about honoring the land and All Their Relations. They are doing what I have long wanted to do, build a self sustaining community.
Here are a people who have put their lives on the line, to protect the land they live on. Literally putting their lives on the line. There are numerous reports the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) discussed using lethal force when they raided the ancestral lands of the Wit’suwet’en Nation last January.
Canadian police were prepared to shoot Indigenous land defenders blockading construction of a natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia, according to documents seen by the Guardian.Exclusive: Canada police prepared to shoot Indigenous activists, documents show by Jaskiran Dhillon in Wet’suwet’en territory and Will Parrish, The Guardian, Dec 20, 2019.
Notes from a strategy session for a militarized raid on ancestral lands of the Wet’suwet’en nation show that commanders of Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), argued that “lethal overwatch is req’d” – a term for deploying an officer who is prepared to use lethal force.
The RCMP commanders also instructed officers to “use as much violence toward the gate as you want” ahead of the operation to remove a roadblock which had been erected by Wet’suwet’en people to control access to their territories and stop construction of the proposed 670km (416-mile) Coastal GasLink pipeline (CGL).
This video, RESIST:The Unist’ot’en’s Call to the Land gives an excellent presentation about the various Wet’suwet’en territories, the planned paths of several pipelines and what the Wet’suwet’en are doing.