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British Columbia ‘I’m here in support of the Wet’suwet’en people’: Portraits of protest at the anti-pipeline camp in B.C.

'I’m here in support of the Wet’suwet’en people in protecting the sovereignty and sacred inherent right to protect their land,' says Sabina Dennis of the Dakelh Cariboo Clan, shown on Tuesday at the Unist'ot'en camp in northern B.C., where members of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation and their allies are opposed to a pipeline project.

Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

A remote forestry road in northern B.C. has become a political fault line between the energy industry the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and hereditary chiefs from that nation who oppose a natural-gas pipeline on their traditional territory.

Fourteen people were arrested Monday near Gidimt’en, a checkpoint erected on the road last month. The RCMP were enforcing a Dec. 14 injunction ordering the demonstrators at Gidim’ten and an older checkpoint, Unist’ot’en, from barring the construction crews from the road. The checkpoints are backed by the Wet’suwet’en’s clan elders, who oppose the pipeline, but the elected band councils support the pipeline and have an agreement with its builders, Coastal GasLink.

At Unist’ot’en, demonstrators reached a tentative deal late Wednesday to give the construction crews right of way if certain demands were met. On Tuesday, as the people at Unist’ot’en waited warily for the RCMP to arrive, photographer Jimmy Jeong met some of them and asked why they came out. This is what they said.

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Dawson

Creek

ALASKA

Site of protests near Morice River

Houston

Kitimat

ALTA.

Prince

George

16

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

Banks

Island

97

Unist’ot’en

Camp

0

80

KM

Morice River

Kamloops

Morice River

Bridge

Coastal GasLink’s

pipeline project

Morice R. Forest Service Rd.

TransCanada’s

existing gas

transmission

system

0

1

KM

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

source: b.c. rcmp; thetyee.ca

Dawson

Creek

ALASKA

Site of protests near Morice River

Houston

ALTA.

Kitimat

Prince

George

16

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

Banks

Island

97

Unist’ot’en

Camp

0

80

KM

Morice River

Kamloops

Morice River

Bridge

Coastal GasLink’s

pipeline project

Morice River Forest Service Rd.

TransCanada’s

existing gas

transmission

system

0

1

KM

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, source: b.c. rcmp;

thetyee.ca

Dawson

Creek

ALASKA

Site of protests near Morice River

Houston

ALTA.

Kitimat

Prince

George

Haida

Gwaii

16

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

Banks

Island

97

Unist’ot’en

Camp

0

80

KM

Morice River

Kamloops

Morice River

Bridge

Coastal GasLink’s

pipeline project

Morice River Forest Service Rd.

TransCanada’s

existing gas

transmission

system

0

1

KM

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, source: b.c. rcmp; thetyee.ca




Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

I’m here to support the Unist’ot’en in defending the land against the big greedy corporations.

— Adam Gagnon, hereditary Wing Chief of the Fireweed Clan



Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

I’m here to support the Unist’ot’en camp and protect the waters. Our waters were contaminated with mercury. When I grew up we used to drink that contaminated water. Our fish were contaminated.

— Tange Joseph, Fort Babine



Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

We are here for protection of rivers and creeks that our salmon use for habitats. This is our father clan territory. And in honour of our father we are here. One Strong Nation.

— Brian and Gary Michell, from Tse-Kya, Wet’suwet’en fishery technicians



Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

I’m here for my daughters and the next generations to come.

— Gretchen Woodman, Smithers, B.C.



Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

I’m here because I want to be supportive of people here. And I want to support my youngest son Denzel who is inside the Unist’ot’en blockade.

— Art Wilson, Wolf Chief of Kispiox




The B.C. pipeline battle: more reading

Full coverage: A guide to the Wet'suwet'en story so far

Explainer: A look at the complicated interplay of a hereditary system

Gary Mason: The two crises of leadership in B.C.'s Wet’suwet’en blockade

From the comments: ‘This country is in a lot of trouble.’ Readers react to B.C. natural gas pipeline protests

Editor’s note: Adam Gagnon is a hereditary chief of the Fireweed Clan. An earlier version of this story misidentified the clan. This version has been corrected.
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