Rally planned Friday morning to support Unist'ot'en Camp

A rally is being held in Prince George this morning on behalf of a rural Aboriginal group about a four-hour drive to the west.

The residents of the Unist'ot'en Camp - a sprawling wilderness region headquartered at the intersection of Wedzin Kwah and Talbits Kwah (the Morice River and Gosnell Creek, respectively) southwest of Houston and northeast of Morice Lake - have for years mounted a blockade of industrial activities that do not conform to their interests.

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A recent court injunction by one of those industrial proponents, Coastal Gaslink (a pipeline that would move natural gas from extraction sources near Dawson Creek to the proposed LNG Canada shipping plant at Kitimat), would allow their work to take its next steps.

A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for Monday.

A response rally is set for Prince George in support of the Unist'ot'en Camp.

"These legal challenges ignore the jurisdiction and authority of hereditary chiefs and a feast system of governance, which was recognized in the 1997 Deglamuukw-Gisday'wa court case," said a written statement issued by Prince George rally organizers.

"All Wet'suwet'en Clans have rejected the Coastal GasLink pipeline."

The statement explained that Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. has "applied for an injunction and served notice for a civil lawsuit, seeking an 'interim, interlocutory or permanent injunction' and financial damages for 'occupying, obstructing, blocking, physically impeding or delaying access' to unceded territory."

The company has succeeded in gaining the support of the elected Wet'suwet'en First Nation leaders, on whose traditional aterritory the project crosses at that point but the Unist'ot'en Camp residents claim a deeper jurisdiction over that particular tract of land.

"The Unist'ot'en homestead is not a protest or demonstration," said a written statement from the Aboriginal group.

"Our clan is occupying and using our traditional territory as it has for centuries. Our free prior and informed consent protocol is in place at the entrance of our territory as an expression of our jurisdiction and our inherent right to both give and refuse consent. Our homestead is a peaceful expression of our connection to our territory. It is also an example of the continuous use and occupation of our territory by our clan. Our traditional structures of governance continue to dictate the proper use of and access to our lands and water."

The rally is set for the Prince George Courthouse at 9 a.m. today.

It includes a call for financial aid to mount a legal defense. Information is available at the Unist'ot'en Camp website and the rally's event page on Facebook.

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