Aboriginal Entitlement – Pipeline Blockades
NOTE: As new information comes to us we will update this article, inclusive of corrections
The untold other side of the story.
Recently we saw aboriginals signing lucrative deals with pipeline companies, while none of the non-aboriginal communities get any cash deals. There is close to a billion dollars on the table with the vast majority of it available for First Nations.
Having watched the videos and listening to what many of the elders are saying about this pipeline, is so wildly distant from reality it makes one have to wonder if the instigators behind this movement are intentionally feeding lies to the elders to gain their support, who in turn gain the support of their families when they speak or in many cases cry. Example: “We will no longer be able to pick berries on our territory, the fish will all die as a result of the pipeline, comments like these are clearly the results of intentionally misleading elders.”
Below is a clip from a video used to emotionally gain support against the pipeline, an intentional misinformation campaign from their Unist’ot’en Facebook page.
They are intentionally invoking the fears that might have been true for the Enbridge pipeline, in fact almost all of the fears seem to have been adopted by the chiefs who are opposed to this pipeline.
If this will kill all the fish, all the berries, all the wildlife, they would already be dead as the PNG Pipeline that serves industry, and all of the communities west of Vanderhoof is also a Natural Gas pipeline and runs pretty much through exactly the same aboriginal territory.
How can First Nations ever get ahead, when disinformation campaigns keep holding them back?
Its not that hard to find out where the disinformation started, as can be seen in this video used by the Unist’ot’en in a previous campaign about 3 years ago.
This video from 3 years ago, makes it quite clear how Freda feels about the money and opportunity they have been offered, it might well all be in the price tag, as she refers to the offer as “crumbs.”
The reality is that the damage will be less than the land used to drive to this gate by these protestors. The width of the right of way will be 38 meters wide for the entire length of the pipeline. Its underground, it pipes a vapor gas, it has no oil or liquid products in the pipe. It carries gas like a human fart, if there is a leak it will dissipate into the air. It will take about a year before vegetation will regrow and cover all of the ground where the pipe is buried.
Its not possible that this pipeline could destroy the Morice River. Or the berries other than a narrow path of the pipeline for a few years, the moose and deer will not be affected at all, if anything it will give them a firearms restricted area. The vast majority of claimed land by the Wet’suwet’en will remain untouched.
The Unist’ot’en declare that they will use the power invested in hereditary chiefs in our Supreme Court to block the pipeline. Then we read in local papers that Freda Huson a spokesman for the blockade on the Morice River road, is also a member of the Witset (Moricetown) band counsel that signed contracts with Coastal Gaslink.
It is indeed a possibility that this could end up in court, but so is the possibility that like in may other recent pipeline cases they will lose the case in court like the Squamish Nation lost court challenges over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. It could be wasted money with those funds going to settling land claims as a better option
Freda Huson, the official spokesperson according to their Unist’ot’en website, claims she is the granddaughter of Christine Holland.
We have confirmed that she Freda Huson is the granddaughter of Herb Buchholtz. (Herb was German) (a colonizer) so Freda is part colonizer by way of birth, a term she loves using.
Warner Naziel, is one of the two primary instigators of this so called Unist’ot’en blockade. He calls himself “Toghestiy” and is also from the Laksamshu clan. (small frog) in perspective he is a leader in a group defending land he is not a member of, “The Unis’tot’en (C’ihlts’ehkhyu / Big Frog Clan)”
This young fellow back in 2013 claimed he is one of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Laksamshu clan, even though there is no such record publicly available until 2016 the “Unist’ot’en Camp” made that claim that he had just achieved that status. No such public record is available at the Wet’suwet’en office to this date of the “name feast” that validates authority according to Wet’suwet’en law and provides a format for the exercise of that authority. The Wet’suwet’en word for feast, “denii ne’aas” means “people coming together,” although they also use the word Potlatch, the Chinook or trade language term, when speaking English or Wet’suwet’en.
Its not the first time either, “Hereditary Chief Toghestiy says that in 2008, the Unist’ot’en and Grassroots Wet’suwet’en began to distance themselves from the Office of the Wet’suwet’en”. Reference here.
It may in fact be a shameful act of disrespect for those traditions by declaring oneself to a position still to be granted.
The border between the Gitdumden land claim and the Gil_seyhu (Big Frog) clan is the Morice River.
Warner William is the head of Dark House clan, is only one of the 4 families that make up the Big Frog clan, is also sitting as a counselor in Witset (Moricetown) so it becomes clear that they lost the Wet’suwet’en vote, and decided to run renegade against his own people.
(see reference below to a Helen Michelle to explain the unlisted member of the Gil_seyhu (Big Frog) clan)
“Witset signed a pipeline benefits agreement that the Band said would provide $55.4 million in payments over the life of the project on top of the jobs and training for locals. A secret ballot re-vote earlier this year affirmed its agreement with two-thirds of the new council voting for it.
“Including Witset, all elected First Nations along the pipeline route from northeast B.C. to Kitimat have signed agreements.” Reference Terrace Standard
It was Freda who declared years ago that they are going to block access to the pipelines, and that they will build places to live there to insure the pipeline would not be built. It had nothing to do with protecting the new healing center from the pipeline. In a video they themselves produced in 2013 makes it very clear what their intentions were.
in that video, they clearly target the GPS coordinates of the TransCanada pipeline.
Their online website now rewrites the history of that blockade.
“ THE MAIN FOCUS OF THE UNIST’OT’EN CAMP IS HEALING.
So many indigenous people and reporters have come out to Unist’ot’en land and found it to be healing experience, to live on the land and have a connection with the natural world and our teachings.
We saw the healing lodge as an opportunity to expand and offer this to our community members. We envision holding healing camps there. It is a chance to return to some of our traditional teachings and land-based wellness practices of our ancestors.
Our people have been impacted by intergenerational trauma, and disconnected from those practices.
We are part of something bigger than ourselves. I am hoping we can emphasize how those traditional ways relate to current healing practices, leading to more holistic ways of achieving physical, psychological, and spiritual balance.
– from an interview with Karla Tait
So let me reiterate, the position that they use now, that the pipeline would interfere with their healing center is a farce to say the least. Likewise they are creating a lot of press in that some of the hereditary chiefs also oppose the pipeline deal. Left unsaid is that some of them are already independently wealthy in large part to direct or indirect control of previous band administrations. They can afford to lose this deal unlike most of the Wet’suwet’en people.
Is it not the height of hypocrisy when you run a GoFundMe page and the vast majority of those who donate are so called colonizers? Then you team up with American registered environmental groups for help? All so you can defeat your own Wet’suwet’en bothers and sisters who refuse to support you?
Then you have the case of a reporter with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, who was banned over an interview with a Wet’suwet’en Head Hereditary Chief because that chief supported the pipeline.
In a Facebook post, user Dini Ze Smogelgem, Hereditary Chief of the Laksamshu Clan, one of the five clans of Wet’suwe’ten Nation, also known as Warner Naziel, posted a photo and circled Hamelin’s name, saying she had been banned from reporting on the standoff with CGL after she wrote an article quoting Helen Michelle, who claims to be a hereditary chief.
Helen Michelle’s claim to Hereditary Chief is a lot more legitimate than that of self proclaimed Dini Ze Smogelgem, Hereditary Chief of the Laksamshu Clan.
On a very important note one needs to understand Helen Michelle is a hereditary chief of the Gil_seyhu (Big Frog) clan, but not from Moricetown. Also not recognized in Moricetown (Witset) is Wet’suwet’en chief Karen Ogen, Nee Tahi Buhn chief Ray Morris, Burns Lake Band chief Dan George, and Skin Tyee Nation chief Rene Skin, they all support the LNG pipeline. There has been a very chilling history not told in regards to the Babine, and Lakes District Wet’suwet’en people.
This is likely the thorn, that makes the Unist’ot’en so hostile towards any public mention of her name as a Hereditary Chief, its why they want to silence the reporter for doing her job, posting both sides of the story. They do not have the power to strip her of her position, like they do to all opposition from the inside of their clan.
Other First Nations such as the Haisla and Kitsumkalum have declared their support for LNG. At least 20 First Nations have signed project benefit agreements and a First Nations LNG Alliance has been formed to share information about the potential impacts and benefits of LNG development in our province.
But there is more to the story, after the Supreme Court injunction, in defiance of the court there is now a second blockade on the Morice River Road, this time under the name of the Gitumden Clan, however one must be aware its some of the same people, in particular Molly Wickham who is also one of the founding blockade members of the Unist’ot’en blockade. References B.C check point built on Morice River Road in support of Unist’ot’en Camp and This Couple Is Raising a Child at a Tailings Pond Blockade
I can only assume this is an attempt to circumvent the Coastal GasLink gets interim injunction against Unist’ot’en the Supreme Court injunction.
To be exact as you can see its roots come from only one of the 4 families, in particular it is the Warner William family. I have seen no evidence to date to suggest the other three families in the Big Frog clan (Gil_seyhu) support the blockade. Missing is hereditary chief Helen Michelle who is in favor of the pipeline.
Now I have to plead ignorance.
With all due respect I do not understand why the words of hereditary chiefs carry any weight at all in our Supreme Court?
Now before you get all hot headed and do the “How dare you!” Please understand my confusion. On August 17th 2016 the Haida clan stripped two of their revered hereditary chiefs of their titles for secretly supporting the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.
Then we have the Unist’ot’en declare on Nov 29, 2018 - “We’ve stripped the names from three female hereditary chiefs for supporting the pipeline” Is there any greater disrespect for a hereditary chief than stripping them of their authority? So it appears a dictatorship runs the show, if you don’t agree with the dictator your done.
The one thing you keep hearing from the protestors, is the importance of respecting Hereditary Chiefs, as long as they tow the proverbial party line. Where is their respect for the chiefs they cannot strip the power from, but have as much rightful say in territorial matters as do Hereditary Chiefs that oppose the pipeline?
Where is the application of Wet’suwet’en law, when it turns into a dictatorship?
It would appear to me that the hereditary chiefs are not the final authority, but rather those who have the ability to strip them of their power, are the real authority. That said it once again begs the question power of the aboriginal hereditary chiefs. While declaring aboriginal hereditary chiefs have the final control of the lands in the Supreme Court of Canada, yet they can all be stripped of their power by the same people who elect their counsels. The ones who signed on with the pipelines.
There is a term for that “Speaking in forked tongues” or the art of double speak. If the members of a clan elect a band counsel, and that same group of members can strip away the power of hereditary chiefs, then it really is the band members who we should be listening to, via their elected spokesman/women.
Next I would ask, if the pipeline proceeds, will the Unist’ot’en refuse to take any of the benefits that the Wet’suwet’en peoples are signature to?
It seems to me rather hypocritical when the people can strip hereditary chiefs of their title, and the same people can vote in favor of the pipeline, then say the hereditary chiefs are the final power that will block the pipeline in court.
Sadly what we are seeing is a manipulation of the younger adult generation, especially among the “have not” group. They are manipulated into a sense of importance, that the land is theirs, so they too should have lucrative houses and 50 thousand dollar diesel trucks and all the other toys both the rich, and even some aboriginal members have.
They are led to say they are opposed to the modern ways of the colonizers and live traditional, and lets close our eyes to the solar panels on their healing center, the transportation, the products they wear and eat, mostly from the colonizers market. Who are you trying to fool? Your kids, or my kids?
Food for thought.
If there really was a ground swell movement supporting the Unist’ot’en blockade it certainly cannot be the same people who elected their band counsels. In fact if they really have that much support, getting rid of every band counsel member that voted for the deal with Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline should be easy. It is also no secret they are asking people who do not live on Wet’suwet’en land to fund the campaign against their own brothers and sisters.
Check the votes the so called Unist’ot’en members received in the last election. In an attempt to take over the band election as chief Freda Hudson received 55 out of 401 votes.
Her shot at counselor gave her 129 votes, and Warner William received 130 votes. Warner Naziel 83 votes, so clearly the Wet’suwet’en society is not behind them. Only 401 people voted and there were 12 spots they could choose for counselors. At best you could say they got close to 25% of the vote, and the major issue was the LNG pipeline.
Its time you put your own house in order.
Wet’suwet’en chiefs distance First Nation from Unist’ot’en camp, urge cooperation with pipeline companies“Wet’suwet’en chief Karen Ogen, Nee Tahi Buhn chief Ray Morris, Burns Lake Band chief Dan George, and Skin Tyee Nation chief Rene Skin issued a media release that distances the First Nation as a whole from the camp’s actions. Going further, it denounces the camp’s goal of blocking pipeline developments.”
Gitdumden checkpoint blocks access to Unist’ot’en camp
Coastal GasLink turned away by Gitdumden checkpoint
Scroll down to “First Nations LNG Alliance” and read about the support First Nations have towards this LNG project.
LNG pipeline hiring as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs resist a lot more from the other side of the story here as well.
NOTE: Feel free to give us evidence to show we are not right about something, and we will make the corrections, our objective is to get the truth out. Likewise we appreciate insider tips, to restore justice to local families, who now face the threat of outside interference from radical environmental organizations.
This is is a family matter, it should be resolved in house.
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5 thoughts on “Aboriginal Entitlement – Pipeline Blockades”
Wow, nice to see someone local enough to know what is going on, so it really amounts to less than a baker’s dozen of people who did nothing with their lives standing in the way of people who want to get ahead in life.
Across BC support for LNG is growing.
One concern that I have that really concerns me is how many non-aboriginal people who claim to be environmentalists, will go out of their way to encourage others, especially aboriginals to break the law, from the safety and comfort of their living room chair, often even from other countries.
Hi, I really enjoy reading your articles its good to hear some truth for a change vs the hooligan (love that term) lies that they have said so long they are believing it themselves. I want to give some insight into Molly Wickham and her Husband and whos cabin that really is at McBride lake, The OW got a grant to train members in building cabins, and each clan was supposed to get one on their territory, they got free logs and got a small mill to create round logs and mill notches to prefab cabins at 30 km on the Morice River road around 2008,2009. It was a good program until it ran out of funding and collapsed. They only managed enough logs to build the cabin at 66 km (Unistoten protest camp) and one at the east end of Mcbride lake. these cabins were not legal in the way that no authority was granted from Gov to build them, but they got built anyways. The cabins were supposed to be open and used by clan members to enjoy their territories and are owned essentially by the head clan chiefs. This is not how it shook out, the protestors took over both cabins and the rest of the clan was left without the ability to utilize these cabins if you were not part of the No pipeline group.
And were shunned because they did not support the rebels.
Molly is a squatter, who showed up out of nowhere when the protesting first started in around 2009, avoiding any sort of meaningful work to society, not paying taxes but getting grants and funding through sources not overly known it is Chief Woos who rightfully owns that cabin and is ultimately responsible for.
The Houston people who have never left are the true Unistoten and never left Houston they are still here, never moved to Moricetown (Witset), and were non status natives until the Indian act changed in 1985.
These fine people are quiet when it comes to the pipeline debate as they live in Houston, and just want for once to get something to help their people, they neither condone or condemn either side, but are not treated kindly by the hooligans as they do not agree with the tactics. If they used calm heads to start with they would have had far more support, but by alienating the true Clan members they are left only with their lies and propaganda.
We most certainly appreciate your comments and insights, as a local we are aware that our memories are fallible, and we too make mistakes. Sadly most locals are being left out of this conversation we all should be part of. Collectively we share a lot of both history and wisdom in regards to our shared backyard.