(Photo credit, Pat Moss)
On Tuesday, August 24th, representatives of Enbridge, Michelle Perret and Kevin Brown, received formal notice from Wet'suweten hereditary chiefs Hagwilakw (Antoinette Austin) and Toghestiy (Warner Naziel) that Enbridge was trespassing on unceded Wet'suwet'en lands and did not have permission to build a pipeline on their lands.
Enbridge had sent Perret and Brown to present the council of the Town of Smithers with an update on their proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline. Involving a new twin pipeline system extending from Alberta to a new marine terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia, the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline plans to carry tar sands oil to port and natural gas condensate to Alberta to thin the oil for pipeline transport.
Non-aboriginal community activists in tyvek coveralls with reflective vests handed out brochures against the pipeline as people filed into the meeting, while Wet'suwet'en activists stood holding banners proclaiming the need to "yintah' wewat'zenli" (take care of the land), stop the pipeline, and "respect Indigenous peoples' rights."
Inside, the council meeting was packed. As the Enbridge representatives moved to the front of the room, members of the Wet'suwet'en greeted them with a war song. Perret gave a short presentation, outlining how Enbridge was cleaning up the recent pipeline spill in Michigan and then emphasizing the thousands of jobs that building the Northern Gateway Pipeline would create.
At the end of the Enbridge presentation, Toghestiy took the floor, reminding the Enbridge representatives that jurisdiction over Wet'suwet'en lands lay with the Wet'suwet'en people not the municipal government. He stated Enbridge did not have permission to be on the Likht'amisyu (Fireweed) clan's territories and had already been warned that they were trespassing. Hagwilakw and Toghestiy each hand delivered the Enbridge representatives an eagle feather, issuing their final warning. To cheers from the assembled crowd, Toghestiy stated that "further trespass will be dealt with under Wet'suwet'en law."