Unist’ot’en Chief Howihkat denounces arson attack against Gidimt’en cabin that was blocking Coastal GasLink site
On October 3, Gidimt’en land defender Sleydo’ announced in this video that a log cabin had been built on the space where Coastal GasLink was preparing to drill under the Wedzin Kwa river for its fracked gas pipeline.
The Wet’suwet’en oppose this pipeline being built on their lands without their free, prior and informed consent.
By November 19, this video shows the RCMP tearing down the front door of the cabin with an axe and chainsaw and then arresting the land defenders and journalists inside.
Shortly afterwards the cabin was burned down.
On November 20, when we were present on the territory, the access road to Coyote Camp was blocked by the RCMP and CGL trucks.
On November 24, journalist Brandi Morin tweeted: “Wet’suwet’en leaders/supporters know they sure didn’t set it on fire.”
Photo-journalist Amber Bracken later posted these photos of the remnants of the cabin and the Coyote Camp site.
She tweeted: “For clarity this is not the Coyote Camp site, this is a side road at the bottom of the forestry road. Was loaded into dump trucks and dropped here.”
On November 27, the Unist’ot’en posted this video of Chief Howihkat saying: “CGL burnt down Gidimt’en’s cabin.”
Their tweet says: “We know too well the pain of arson on our homes & attempts at displacing us from our Yintah as a land-grab tactic by Industry and colonial gov’t.”
Chief Howihkat highlights the pattern of arson in the video.
This APTN article also notes that a cabin (situated at the 27-kilometre mark on the Morice West Forest Service Road) that was used by land defenders as a meeting place was burned down on August 14-15, 2020. At that time, the RCMP said it was investigating the incident.
By August 19, Black Press Media reported that the RCMP had identified two suspects and that “the investigation continues and information will be provided to the B.C. Prosecution Service regarding potential charges.”
Likhts’amisyu (Fireweed) Clan has now also tweeted: “My Wet’suwet’en cabin was burned to the ground in 2005 by a Forestry worker.”
Secwepemc land defender Kanahus Manuel also tweeted: “One of the reasons why we build tiny houses on wheels because we experienced our cabin also burned to the ground by the governments of bc and Canada armed with a sun peaks resort court injunction 2001.”
We also recall in April 2020 the arson attack against the Spirit of the Buffalo Camp on Treaty 1 territory in southern Manitoba. It opposed the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands export pipeline. At that time, CBC reported: “Some camp supporters and observers on social media are calling on police to investigate it as a hate crime.”
We express our profound concern about this pattern of arson attacks against Indigenous land defenders on their territories.