9 Things You Need to Know About the Pipeline Blockade in B.C.
By Zoë Ducklow
1. Where Is the Unist'ot'en blockade, and What's It About?
The gated checkpoint is on a forest service road about 120 kilometers southwest of Smithers in Unist'ot'en territory at the Morice River Bridge. Two natural gas pipelines are to cross the bridge to serve LNG terminals in Kitimat. Unist'ot'en is a clan within the Wet'suwet'en Nation.
Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs claim title to the land, based on their pre-Confederation occupation and the fact that they've never signed a treaty. Their claim has not been proven in court.
The gated checkpoint is meant to control access to their traditional territory. A protocol for entry, based on principles of free, prior and informed consent, is publicly available. While the first checkpoint was built by the Unist'ot'en clan, all the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation have affirmed that their consent is required prior to any development.
TransCanada's Coastal GasLink pipeline will carry natural gas from Dawson Creek to Kitimat. It's in the early construction phase. The proposed Pacific Trail pipeline, run by Chevron, proposes to transport natural gas from Summit Lake to Kitimat for conversion to LNG. This pipeline received an environmental assessment certificate, but the investment agreement has yet to be finalized. (The Northern Gateway pipeline, run by Enbridge, was also planned to go through the region, but was scrapped in 2016.)
2. Hasn't the Unist'ot'en Camp Been Around for Years Now? Why Is It Suddenly the Center of Attention?
Yes, the checkpoint was established on April 1, 2009. Since then, annual work camps have added a cabin, healing lodge, pit house and bunkhouse for visitors. The camp is used year-round for healing retreats, culture camps and living.
Coastal GasLink applied for an injunction in November 2018 because workers have been unable to cross the checkpoint to start clearing the pipeline route. The B.C. Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction in December, prohibiting anyone from blocking the bridge. The court also ordered the checkpoint to be dismantled within 72 hours.
A few photos from #Gidumten a few hours ago as RCMP moved in to enforce the injunction for Coastal GasLink #bcpoli… https://t.co/rw3KSTRWt8— ChantelleBellrichard (@ChantelleBellrichard)1546915842.0
It's in the news now because not only did Unist'ot'en camp refuse to take down the checkpoint, but their neighboring clan, Gidimt'en, established a second checkpoint. (The injunction was expanded on Jan. 4 to include that checkpoint.)
Throngs of people are traveling to join the camp in solidarity, and on Jan. 7 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police mobilized to enforce the injunction. Rallies were planned in more than 30 cities around the world.
3. Who Called in the RCMP to Raid the Camp?
The RCMP's job is to enforce the injunction on behalf of the court, and it's not necessarily raiding the camp. On Jan. 7, tactical teams began to dismantle the Gidimt'en checkpoint. On the evening of Jan. 9, RCMP reported 14 arrests of people who refused to comply with the court order. The individuals were taken to Houston, B.C.
By the night of Jan. 7 the RCMP had breached the Gidimt'en blockade but had not reached the Unist'ot'en blockade or camp. The Unist'ot'en camp beside that blockade, which has been in operation for nearly 10 years, is not part of the order, and because it's not in the way of construction access, can likely remain as is.
4. How Is the B.C. Government, Which Supports the LNG Export Terminal, Reacting to the Raid?
The government has not made an official statement, but Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson, minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development, visited the Gidimt'en checkpoint on Jan. 6. He arrived with a box of food in hand as a show of support and was admitted into the camp after going through the entry protocol with a Gidimt'en member.
Premier John Horgan is an enthusiastic supporter of the Kitimat LNG project. He has also vowed to implement the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes such principles as free, prior and informed consent for activities on the territories of Indigenous people, the right not to be forcibly removed from traditional land and the right to maintain connection to the land.
5. Aren't the Wet'suwet'en Among the First Nations Who Have Approved the Pipeline?
It's complicated. The elected chief and council signed the agreement, but the hereditary chiefs are opposed. The 13 hereditary chiefs argue that the elected chief only has jurisdiction over the band's reserves, and that hereditary chiefs retain jurisdiction over the traditional territory where the checkpoint and camps are located.
The band with the elected council who have the reserve is called the Wet'suwet'en First Nation. The hereditary chiefs are leaders of the Wet'suwet'en Nation. The difference has been described like a municipal government versus the federal government. The two governance structures are different and have different jurisdictions. The elected council was established by the federal government when they made reserves. The hereditary chiefs are how the Wet'suwet'en Nation have always governed themselves.
6. Who Are the Wet'suwet'en Nation?
The Unist'ot'en clan is one of five clans that make up the Wet'suwet'en Nation. The camp is on their territory, and the injunction was initially filed against them, but five hereditary chiefs came to the checkpoint Jan. 7 to show their support and solidarity for resisting the pipeline. Wet'suwet'en traditional territory spans 22,000 square kilometers in northwest B.C. west of Smithers.
7. How are First Nations Leaders in B.C. and Canada Reacting?
Some First Nations leaders support the Coast GasLink pipeline, including a chief from the Skin Tyee band, which is part of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation. Up to 20 First Nations (including the elected council of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, as noted earlier) have signed agreements with the pipeline. Agreements provide opportunities for work and training on the job.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs released a statement condemning the RCMP's tactics of "intimidation, harassment and ongoing threats of forceful intervention and removal of the Wet'suwet'en land defenders from Wet'suwet'en unceded territory."
8. What Do the People at the Checkpoint Facing Arrest Say?
Freda Huson is one of the people named in the injunction. She works at the healing lodge at the Unist'ot'en camp.
"We didn't agree with the injunction because they didn't hear our side, and we have too much to lose. We don't want them to say that we can be in a reservation and stay in my buildings here, but they can destroy the rest of the territory," Huson said in a Facebook video on Jan. 7.
"I'm here now because this is my home, this is where I live. This is an unjust system that we live in. My people have been pushed aside, pushed aside for hundreds of years. And it hasn't stopped, it's still happening right now. My people live off these lands.
"The gate is for our protection. We had racists coming in and shooting rifles, ramming my gate with vehicles and using explosives to blow up my gate. And the police in Houston know, and they did nothing about it. They said not enough evidence.
"And now the state. I blame Justin Trudeau, John Horgan. If you guys are listening to this, you guys are behind this project. You guys are behind approving these police to come in and treat me like a criminal. And all I am doing is living on my lands that my clan has title and rights to. You say reconciliation? This is not reconciliation. You're treating my chiefs and us as criminals. We're not criminals. This is our land."
9. When People Say this Could be "Another Gustafsen Lake," What Do They Mean?
The Gustafsen Lake standoff happened in the summer of 1995 in the Secwepemec (Shuswap) region. A Sundance ceremony, which takes a month to complete, was being held when relations with a rancher who claimed ranging rights over the land turned hostile.
The standoff began Aug. 18 and ended Sept. 17. More than 400 RCMP officers, supported by military advisers, blockaded the camp. Landmines were used to block access, police were heavily armed, and helicopters and airplanes were used for surveillance. The police operation cost more than $4.5 million.
No one died in the standoff, although tens of thousands of shots were fired and two people were wounded.
The Sundancers surrendered, and 18 people were charged with trespassing. RCMP tactics—including a smear campaign to spread misinformation about the Sundancers—were criticized during the court proceedings. Fifteen people were found guilty, mainly of tresspass, and jailed.
The fear in this case is that the RCMP will employ similar tactics. Officers have set up an exclusion zone around the area, as they did during Gustafsen Lake.
In my 2nd @EcoWatch post today, #FirstNations @UnistotenCamp activists call Canadian police action against… https://t.co/YV6CqMJT2n— Olivia Rosane (@Olivia Rosane)1546954794.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.
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By Taison Bell
"Hospital Capacity Crosses Tipping Point in U.S. Coronavirus Hot Spots" – Wall Street Journal
This is a headline I hoped to not see again after the number of coronavirus infections had finally started to decline in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. However, the pandemic has now shifted to the South and the West – with Arizona, Florida, California and Texas as hot spots.
Hard-Hit States Quickly Learned Value of Masks<p>As a respiratory virus, SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted mainly through droplets that leave the mouth and nose as a person talks, sneezes, coughs or exhales. It thrives in environments where there are lots of people in enclosed spaces – <a href="https://theconversation.com/aerosols-are-a-bigger-coronavirus-threat-than-who-guidelines-suggest-heres-what-you-need-to-know-142233" target="_blank">especially if they are laughing, talking, singing</a> or otherwise coming into close contact. It thrives physically in the same settings where we thrive socially.</p><p>This is why the early hard-hit areas were able to crush the curve by closing businesses and implementing stay-at-home orders. Without significant close human interaction, the coronavirus couldn't spread.</p><p>While other states are now seeing hospitals fill with COVID-19 patients, most of the Northeast is maintaining control of community spread as its economies reopen. The difference reflects, at least in part, each state's behavior expectations and the willingness of residents to keep up safety precautions like wearing masks, avoiding large crowds, maintaining social distance of at least six feet and staying isolated when they are ill or may have been exposed to the virus.</p>
How Rhode Island's Daily COVID-19 Case Numbers Fell<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ2MTAwOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDE1MDUxMH0.Ce8r6qCwhkJm8D8vUnTl5CblhFPXj_eBIlYqJ5yobqE/img.png?width=980" id="32ce3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f15da39d4dab6393216510dbed678840" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Northeastern states now <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/26/politics/maskwearing-coronavirus-analysis/index.html" target="_blank">lead the nation</a> in mask-wearing and adherence to other best practices. An <a href="https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/26/which-part-of-the-u-s-leads-the-country-in-mask-wearing/" target="_blank">Axios/Ipsos poll</a> showed that in states with high mask use, virus circulation is at <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/covid-19-coronavirus-face-masks-infection-rates-20200624.html" target="_blank">lower levels compared to states with less mask use</a>. Studies on the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-020-0908-8" target="_blank">effects of how quickly coronavirus restrictions have been lifted</a> around the world have found that slow, careful strategies have led to fewer illnesses and deaths during reopening.</p><p>In many parts of the Northeast, the months of illnesses, deaths and the struggle to turn the COVID-19 tide are still <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/06/23/most-americans-say-they-regularly-wore-a-mask-in-stores-in-the-past-month-fewer-see-others-doing-it/" target="_blank">fresh in people's minds</a>. The progress isn't uniform, however. <a href="https://gothamist.com/news/coronavirus-cases-among-20-somethings-nyc-rise-prompting-de-blasio-issue-new-mask-guidance" target="_blank">New York City's mayor has expressed concern</a> about an uptick in positive cases among people in their 20s.</p>
The Problems of a Political Divide<p>Elsewhere in the country, the current surge in COVID-19 cases <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-surges-of-the-coronavirus-across-the-nation-could-force-more-shutdowns/2020/06/12/e6985b94-acd9-11ea-a9d9-a81c1a491c52_story.html" target="_blank">began to pick up after Memorial Day weekend</a>, when people in several states that hadn't seen the same toll from the pandemic let their guard down. <a href="https://theconversation.com/covid-19-messes-with-texas-what-went-wrong-and-what-other-states-can-learn-as-younger-people-get-sick-141563" target="_blank">Video and pictures</a> showed parties, barbecues, crowded beaches and political rallies – all with very little social distancing or mask-wearing – giving more fuel for the coronavirus to spread.</p><p>Despite the overwhelming evidence for what we should be doing, following the advice of public health experts has also, sadly, become politicized. Depending on the news sources people listen to, they might hear warnings from health officials being taken seriously or being dismissed by pundits and politicians.</p><p>A <a href="https://www.axios.com/axios-ipsos-poll-coronavirus-index-15-weeks-e4eb53cc-9bc8-4cac-8285-07e5e5ef6b2b.html" target="_blank">recent national poll</a> shows that Democrats report consistently wearing a mask 68% of the time, while Republicans reported doing the same only 34% of the time. The national conversation has devolved into a false dichotomy: Either you're on the side of prioritizing safety or you're on the side of personal freedom and opening the economy.</p><p>In reality, the two should be partners, as these preventative measures are the best tools we have to reach our common goals of reopening businesses and schools safely. It's the same reason we stop at stoplights and go through metal detectors at the airport – we make a small sacrifice for the greater public good.</p><p>For the foreseeable future, Americans will have to collectively agree to live life a little differently. Until we can all agree on this, the coronavirus will continue to have the upper hand, and our health and wealth will suffer.</p>
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By Zahida Sherman
Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.
Falling in Love With Food All Over Again<p>Slowly, through my most intimate relationships with friends and partners, I began to see the beauty — and rewards — of cooking.</p><p>I got tired of giving in to defeat and always bringing chips or paper products to social gatherings. I started asking my mom to send me her Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes. I even volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my place.</p><p>Each time I heard my loved ones sing the praises of the foods I prepared for them, I felt a tinge more confident that I could carry out our traditions my way.</p><p>In reaching out to other relatives for their favorite recipes, I learned that they had a little help of their own. They didn't rely solely on their ancestral cooking instincts. They turned to Black chefs for guidance.</p><p>These 7 cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired my family and fed us in nutrients, joy, and spiritual sustenance. They're also helping me overcome my personal fears of cooking.</p>
Get CookingWhether you're in recovery from cooking fears like me, or are just looking to expand your culinary confidence with dishes honoring Black heritage, these Black chefs are here to support you on your journey.Turn on some music, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and throw down for yourself or your loved ones. Glorious flavors await you.
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By Tara Lohan
The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.
The History<p>The Middle Fork Nooksack drains glacier-fed headwater streams that run off the icy summit of 10,778-foot Mt. Baker. The Middle Fork joins the North Fork and then the mainstem of the Nooksack River, which travels to Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound. The entire Nooksack watershed stretches 830 square miles across Washington and into British Columbia.</p>
A Plan Comes Together<p>The Middle Fork dam is not a pool dam built for water storage. Much of the time, water flows over the top until dam operators drop a floodgate to divert water to new locations. That water travels about 14 miles through tunnel and pipeline to Mirror Lake, then Anderson Creek, and to Lake Whatcom before finally being delivered to residents' taps.</p><p>Before removing the dam, engineers had to move the water intake 700 feet upstream and situate it at an elevation that still enabled city water withdrawals throughout the year, regardless of flow conditions.</p><p>They also needed to make sure that the rushing water didn't sweep up fish and accidentally send them through the water-supply system.</p><p>"The solution required a fairly complex design in the intake structure, including a fish exit pipe out of that structure to put fish back into the river in a way that meets current environmental permit standards," explains LaCroix.</p>
Project layout for the removal of the Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam and rebuilding of water intake. City of Bellingham<p>Despite the cost and the work, she says, being able to continue to meet their municipal water obligations while opening up habitat for threatened species has been a win-win.</p><p>"I think there's a lot of benefits to having a dam removal versus fish passage — the main one being that you get a free-flowing river that can be a dynamic ecosystem and change over time," she says. "A static fish ladder just can't provide that same level of ecosystem benefit."</p>
Restoration Success<p>Despite local authorities' championing dam removal on the Middle Fork, the project has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by heated discussions about a much larger potential project — removing <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/feds-reject-removal-of-4-snake-river-dams-in-key-report/" target="_blank">four federal hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River</a>, a major tributary of the Columbia River.</p><p>Proponents of dam removal there see it as the best chance for recovering threatened salmon populations, including Chinook, which could help starving Southern Resident killer whales. Those dams also provide irrigation water, barge navigation and hydropower, so there's been more pushback against removal efforts.</p><p>Previous dam removals around the country, however, have proved successful at aiding fish recovery and river restoration.</p><p>Most notably the 1999 demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/edwards-dam-removal/" target="_blank">Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River</a> restored the annual run of alewives, a type of herring essential to the food web. The fish run has gone from zero to 5 million in the two decades since dam removal. Blueback herring, striped bass, sturgeon and shad have also extended their reach. And the resurgence has brought back osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife, too.</p><p>The overwhelming success of river restoration on the Kennebec helped to spur a nationwide dam removal movement that's now seen 1,200 dams come down since 1999. Last year a record <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/a-record-26-states-removed-dams-in-2019/" target="_blank">90 dams</a> were removed in 26 states, including <a href="https://therevelator.org/cleveland-forest-dam-removal/" target="_blank">20 dams in California's Cleveland National Forest</a>.</p>
Spider excavators remove on dam on San Juan Creek in California's Cleveland National Forest. Julie Donnell, USFS<p>The results have been seen in the Pacific Northwest, as well, which boasts the largest dam removal thus far in the country. In 2011 and 2014, the demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/" target="_blank">two dams</a> on Elwha River, which runs through Washington's Olympic National Park, opened up 70 miles of habitat that had been blocked for a century. Scientists have started seeing all five species of salmon native to the river coming back, particularly Chinook and coho. Bull trout, they've observed, have increased in size since the dams were removal.</p>
Benefits on the Middle Fork Nooksack<p>McEwan hopes to see a similar outcome on the Middle Fork.</p><p>Like the Elwha the Middle Fork Nooksack is a relatively pristine river with little development, and dam removal is expected to provide a big boost to fish. The additional miles of spawning habitat are important, but so is the temperature of that water.</p><p>The dam removal will open access to cold upstream waters, which are ideal for salmon and getting harder to come by as climate change warms waters and reduces mountain runoff.</p><p>"This is really great for the climate change resiliency for these species," says McEwan.</p><p>Steelhead will get back 45% of their historic habitat in the river, and scientists expect Chinook populations to increase in abundance by 31%.</p><p>That <em>could</em> help Southern Resident killer whales.</p><p>"When you get to the ocean, it's a little bit of a black box in terms of what you can model and say definitively is going to help, but more fish is better for orcas," McEwan says.</p><p>Upstream habitat will see benefits, too.</p><p>Oceangoing fish like salmon enrich their bodies with carbon and nitrogen while at sea. When they return to their natal rivers to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients they carry back upriver become important food and fertilizer for both riverine and terrestrial ecosystems — aiding everything from trees to birds to bears.</p><p>"Once the fish start making their way back, it will start changing the whole ecological system," says Delgado.</p><p><span></span>But any ecological benefit from salmon restoration, either in the ocean or the upper watershed, won't be immediate.<br></p><p>"The population of salmon on the Middle Fork is so low that we expect it's going to take quite a while to rebound," she says. "But the big picture is that what's good for salmon is good for the region — our history and our destiny are intricately intertwined."</p><p>After decades of work, that process of restoration has finally begun.</p>
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