Thank you for signing up to be a volunteer! The camp welcomes indigenous and non-indigenous supporters. We encourage volunteers to consider how they can continue as supporters in solidarity with indigenous land defenders into the future, in their home communities or wherever they go. Give a call anytime for more info.
Please read this information to be sure you are prepared for the conditions at this remote, off-grid wilderness community.
Coming from outside Canada? Read this page.
The camp is located on a forest road 1000 km (650 mi) north of Vancouver, BC and about 100 km from the town of Smithers. A car can make the trip from Vancouver in about 18 hours. Most drivers stop in Prince George for the night. Some of our Caravan supporters will offer their homes to travellers. Ask us for info.
Roads, loggers, and weather
While in the city, please keep your vehicle secure — there has been a rash of thefts in Vancouver and other towns.
The weather is changeable at this time of year. Be prepared for hot days, cold nights, flood warnings, and spring storms. Expect swarms of biting insects and blistering sun. Use sunblock!
Keep headlights on. Look out for loaded logging trucks - be ready to yield and pull over.
**Current conditions at the camp: Temperatures may range from plus 30 to 0 C (90 to 32 F).The forest road is passable for two and four-wheel-drive vehicles. The local logging company maintains the road in case of flood, landslide, and downed trees. **
Click to enlarge
From Hwy 16 just west of Houston, the route follows the Morice River. Turn south on the Morice River Road (Huckleberry Mine Road) near the Finning Equipment store. Every kilometer of the forest road is marked with a sign. Near the 27 km sign, take a right on Morice River FSR Road. Near the 44 km mark, turn right on the Morice West FSR Road. The camp is at 66 km from the highway. (Tip: If you are going away from the river, you are going the wrong way.)
Most volunteers stay in the big bunkhouse or the Healing Centre. Meals are shared; vegan and gluten-free options are available. Please bring good food to share - organic produce, home-made preserves, and wild meat are especially requested. Drinking water is on site.
The camp does not have indoor plumbing, cell phone or wifi access. There is plug-in power from solar panels and a generator, and heat from woodstoves. The camp has a satellite uplink for emergency communication.
Visitors should volunteer while at the camp. The main projects are construction and the trapline. Help is also needed with cooking, cleaning up, caring for children and elders, chopping wood, carrying water, and watching for intruders. The focus of the camp is preparing visitors to do solidarity work in their home communities.
Bring warm waterproof winter boots, a warm sleeping bag (the Healing Centre has no stove yet), a waterproof parka and pants, poly, fleece or wool layers, warm gloves, and a can-do attitude.
Please bring a cash donation for the camp. Fresh produce, mittens, warm boots, toques, and headlamps are needed now. Don't bring: Drugs (except prescription medicine), alcohol, firearms, or dogs.
Please don't come to the camp if you're sick or have parasites. Dogs are not allowed to visit the camp. Public nudity is not permitted.
Take everything with you when you leave, and don't take anything that's not yours. Respect camp property.
The camp is prepared for legal trouble. In case of police action, stay calm, be peaceful and follow the instructions of the camp hosts. Police and corporate security vehicles have followed and pulled over visitors' vehicles. Note everything that happens and give the info to the camp hosts and FAN. Don't talk to police beyond giving them a driver's license and insurance papers if stopped.
FAN has a legal defense fund for anyone accused of defending the land. (We hope it's not needed.) The legal team will help anyone who gets in trouble. The lawyer to call in case someone is detained is Ian Lawson in Smithers at 250-847-4720. If the police come in, we expect they would give visitors at the camp a chance to leave without being charged.
Know your rights: Check this info on dealing with police.
Entering the Camp
At the entrance to the camp, at the bridge over Wedzin Kwah (Morice River), the hosts will greet you with the Free, Prior, Informed Consent protocol. Each person will be asked where you are from, what you can offer to help the people defending their land, whether you have worked for resource extraction companies, and other questions.
Right: The entrance to the camp - the bridge (center) and the new bunkhouse (top left).
This is an action camp. The Unis'tot'en people and their allies have set up a checkpoint and they are denying entry to pipeline crews and those who don't respect the protocol. The camp is not breaking any laws at the moment and there has been no legal action by the authorities. Please be aware that the situation may change. Be prepared to support the camp. Don't talk to police, and call Zoe if police want information about the camp: 250-813-3569.
The hosts make all the decisions on their land. It is not the place of visitors to argue or refuse to abide by their decisions. Visitors who can't get along at Unis'tot'en camp or who do not respect the camp hosts, the rules, the land, or the property of the camp will be asked to leave. Do not take anything that is not yours. Do not leave things behind as "donations" unless requested.
People of all races, religions, nationalities, classes, genders and beliefs are welcome to support the grassroots Wet'suwet'en people in defending their land. Radical feminists and trans people are working together in solidarity to benefit the camp. We call on volunteers to respect diverse views and seek common ground rather than conflict, as instructed by our hosts.
We recognize this movement is led by indigenous women. There is no place for racism, sexism, and classism at Unis'tot'en Camp. Locker room humour and attitudes that degrade women, indigenous people, and people of colour are not appropriate.
"This is unceded land"
No treaties have been made to surrender or “cede” Wet'suwet'en territory to Canada. The Supreme Court has upheld indigenous title in the absence of treaties. Only a couple indigenous nations in BC have given up their claims to their land. The rest never signed treaties, and they were not defeated in war or driven from their territories. The land is still (and always) indigenous land.
The Wet'suwet'en First Nation spent 14 years in the BC Treaty Process attempting to negotiate with the federal and provincial government. They left the process in 2010, citing the government's position that they would have to give up 95% of their land and abandon all future claims.
Freda Huson, spokesperson and leader of the camp
Unis’tot’en or C’ihlts’ehkhyu (Big Frog) Clan
Lhe Lin Liyin – "the Guardians”
Wedzin Kwah - Morice River
Talbits Kwah - Gosnell Creek (flows into Morice River)
Tse Wedi Elh - where Talbits Kwah meets Wedzin Kwah, where the camp is located
Pacific Trail Pipeline (PTP) is a gas project that is first in a series of pipelines planned along the Morice River. It would bring gas from fracking fields in eastern and northeastern BC to Kitimat on the coast, along the same route Enbridge plans to use. The pipelines right-of-way, if it were built, would be three kilometers wide through hundreds of kilometers of wetlands, streams, and forests.
Band council vs. the band
The Wet'suwet'en First Nation, as defined by the Indian Act, groups several clans under one elected chief and council. Elections are every two years and the council is paid by Canada's Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. Anyone can be elected chief, even non-native people.
The Wet'suwet'en chief and council have given permission for the PTP. They reportedly accepted a multi-million-dollar promise. At the same time, the band council is part of a coalition called the Yinka Dine Alliance, which opposes the Enbridge pipeline that would run alongside PTP.
Our clan hosts say the band did not consult them on PTP. Elsewhere, we've seen clans make deals to trade other clans' land. In this case, the Unis'tot'en and other "grassroots Wet'suwet'en" say they do not consent, and they have pledged to defend their homes as they've done since time immemorial.
The camp volunteers are a mix of settlers and indigenous people. The info below is intended to tune in settlers about working with indigenous people. Please take the time to go over it and let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
ALLYSHIP and SOLIDARITY
From Unsettling America:
We share these points of unity to guide our allyship and activism:
All people not indigenous to North America who are living on this continent are settlers on stolen land. We acknowledge that Canada, the United States of America, Mexico, and Central & South America were founded through genocide and colonization of indigenous peoples–which continues today and from which settlers directly benefit.
All settlers do not benefit equally from the settler-colonial state, nor did all settlers emigrate here of their own free will. Specifically, we see slavery, hetero-patriarchy, white supremacy, market imperialism, and capitalist class structures as among the primary tools of colonization. These tools divide communities and determine peoples’ relative access to power. Therefore, anti-oppression solidarity between settler communities is necessary for decolonization. We work to build anti-colonial movements that actively combat all forms of oppression.
We acknowledge that settlers are not entitled to live on this land. We accept that decolonization means the revitalization of indigenous sovereignty, and an end to settler domination of life, lands, and peoples in all territories of the so-called “Americas.” All decisions regarding human interaction with this land base, including who lives on it, are rightfully those of the indigenous nations.
As settlers and non-native people (by which we mean non-indigenous to this hemisphere) acting in solidarity, it is our responsibility to proactively challenge and dismantle colonialist thought and behavior in the communities we identify ourselves to be part of. As people within communities that maintain and benefit from colonization, we are intimately positioned to do this work.
We understand that allies cannot be self-defined; they must be claimed by the people they seek to ally with. We organize our solidarity efforts around direct communication, responsiveness, and accountability to indigenous people fighting for decolonization and
We are committed to dismantling all systems of oppression, whether they are found in institutional power structures, interpersonal relationships, or within ourselves. Individually and as a collective, we work compassionately to support each other through these processes. Participation in struggle requires each of us to engage in both solidarity and our own liberation: to be accountable for all\ privileges carried, while also struggling for liberation from\ internalized and/or experienced oppression. We seek to build a healthy\ culture of resistance, accountability, and sustenance.
(Adapted from Unsettling MN‘s Points of Unity)
Indigenous Solidarity Guidelines
It’s important that members of settler culture ally themselves with indigenous communities fighting for their rights and survival, but there are right and wrong ways to express solidarity.
The following guidelines have been put together by Deep Green Resistance members with the help of indigenous activists. They aren’t a complete how-to guide – every community and every situation is different – but they can hopefully point you in a good direction for acting effectively and with respect.
1. First and foremost we must recognize that non-indigenous people are occupying stolen land in an ongoing genocide that has lasted for centuries. We must affirm our responsibility to stand with indigenous communities who want support and give everything we can to protect their land and culture from further devastation; they have been on the frontlines of biocide and genocide for centuries, and as allies, we need to step up and join them.
2. You are doing Indigenous solidarity work not out of guilt, but out of a fierce desire to confront oppressive colonial systems of power.
3. You are not helping Indigenous people, you are there to: join with, struggle with, and fight alongside indigenous peoples against these systems of power. You must be willing to put your body on the line.
4. Recognize your privilege as a member of settler culture.
5. You are not here to engage in any type of cultural, spiritual or religious needs you think you might have, you are here to engage in political action. Also, remember your political message is secondary
to the cause at hand.
6. Never use drugs or alcohol when engaging in Indigenous solidarity work. Never.
7. Do more listening than talking, you will be surprised what you can learn.
8. Recognize that there will be Indigenous people that will not want you to participate in ceremonies. Humbly refrain from participating in ceremonies.
9. Recognize that you and your Indigenous allies may be in the minority on a cause that is worth fighting for.
10. Work with integrity and respect, be trustworthy and do what you say you are going to do.
Setting The Record Straight’s Points of Unity:
We recognize and respect the inherent autonomy and self-determination of indigenous groups. We define autonomy as the capacity of communities to survive and thrive without interference or threat of violence from outside forces. We see self-determination as the power of a community to define its own fate and course of action.
We seek an immediate end to all genocidal policies and activities. We oppose the full range of genocidal actions, including things like cultural appropriation, which are often mistakenly thought of as non-genocidal because they don’t necessarily entail direct physical violence.
We seek to help create relationships of true and lasting justice between indigenous and non-indigenous communities. We believe that those who benefit from the occupation of indigenous territories have a responsibility to put effort into helping build these fundamentally just relationships. If necessary, non-indigenous communities should make themselves available to indigenous groups as a source of aid and support. Because everyone ultimately stands to gain from this process, we promote mutual empowerment, not charity.
We support and respect a diversity of tactics and efforts made by colonized groups to resist oppression and/or reclaim complete autonomy. However, we may not condone all methods used, or choose to utilize certain methods ourselves.
We will actively fight all oppression in ourselves, our collective and events, in liberatory movements, and outside the movement. We hold that all systems of oppression are linked, and that no movement for liberation can succeed while replicating/maintaining any oppression. We will not tolerate any form of oppression. Some systemic oppressions include racism, sexism, transphobia, and ableism.
MORE TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE SOLIDARITY WORK
From the Lakota Solidarity Project’s Solidarity Principles:
RECOGNIZE – If you are non-Native, recognize your place as a settler on occupied Indigenous lands that are still under active and ongoing resistance.
SOBER – Respect the destructive influences of alcohol and drugs on Indigenous communities. Always work sober within Indigenous spaces and projects. NEVER bring drugs or alcohol into Indigenous spaces. LSP is a sober project and any person under the influence will be asked to leave.
CULTURAL RESPECT – Working as an ally to Indigenous people does not entitle you to their spirituality. Leave your own cultural and spiritual baggage at the door. Cultural appropriation destroys opportunities for Indigenous solidarity.
ELDERS – NEVER speak over an Elder who is talking. Be patient during pauses in their speech. Make sure they are fed first. Assist them when they ask. Defend them from harm.
CEREMONY – Only participate in Indigenous ceremony if you are specifically invited. It is not traditional to participate in another Nation’s ceremony unless it is intended to be open.
PROTOCOL – DO NOT take pictures or video of Indigenous ceremonies unless given the approval to do so. NEVER photograph or video sacred objects like pipes, medicine bags, masks, totems, etc. If in doubt, ask! If there is no one to ask, don’t do it!
LEADERSHIP – Defer to Indigenous leadership, decision-making and priorities. Follow their lead.
MAKE SPACE – Suppress enthusiasm for your own ideologies, beliefs, ideas and solutions to further empower problem solving and decision making among Indigenous people. You are not here to “save” Indigenous people but to be allies in a struggle for survival.
PATIENCE – Work patiently at the speed of Indigenous leadership, reflection and decision-making. Deadlines are usually less important than acting in the most thoughtful (effective) way.
INTEGRITY – Always do what you say you are going to do. Always. Work with integrity. When given a task, do it to the best of your ability. When you mess up, apologize earnestly.
ACCOUNTABILITY – Be accountable to the communities you serve, including traditional Elders and warriors who are the customary leaders or defenders of their people.
COMMUNICATION – Expand opportunities for Indigenous people to speak for themselves.
PREPARE – Emotionally prepare yourself for solidarity work including the ability to deal with criticism. Solidarity work is a chance to learn and grow new skills and perspectives.
DECOLONIZE – Decolonization repatriates Indigenous lands and lifeway for both the colonizer and the colonized. Decolonization is the key to effective long-term solidarity.
More info: http://facebook.com/unistoten