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Photo Essay: 4th Annual Unis'tot'en Action Camp

by Aaron Lakoff

A blockade marks the entrance to the Unis'tot'en camp.
A caravan organized by the Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network brought 25 activists from Victoria and Vancouver up to the camp on a school bus. Here, volunteers load up food and supplies in Vancouver before leaving.
The caravan bus arrives at the blockade site on Wet'suwet'en territory.
Members of the Unis'tot'en clan perform traditional songs and dances to officially open the 4th Annual Action Camp. One of the songs is a war song to the Canadian state and oil and gas companies.
Indigenous women from different nations give a powerful in-depth workshop on decolonization the first morning of the camp.
This bridge spans the Wedzin Kwah (Morice River in English), a pristine river where salmon still swim and the water can be drunk. Some of the seven proposed pipelines would cut right under the river.
Everyone seeking to enter Unis'tot'en territory needs to pass through the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent protocol. Rather than likening the protocol to a border crossing between nations, the Wet'suwet'en describe it as a process of knowing the self, and taking a responsibility to defend the land.
Dustin VanEvery, a Mohawk activist from Six Nations, was part of a delegation of Indigenous youth from Ontario who travelled up to the camp. The week before, he was also at the Tar Sands Healing Walk in Alberta. Here, he gets Wet'suwet'en youth to sign his shirt.
Settler solidarity activists help to build a permanent cabin at the blockade site.
Wet'suwet'en youth lead a tour of the permaculture garden, which sits directly on the path of the pipelines. Volunteers were invited up to the camp in May 2013 to plant the garden.
Photo Essay: 4th Annual Unis'tot'en Action Camp
Arnold Norman Yellowman (centre) and Vanessa Gray (right) from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation near Sarnia, Ontario, present a workshop on the fight against Enbridge's Line 9.
In May, settlers and Wet'suwet'en people began construction on a pit house on the pipeline route.
Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chief Toghestiy (left) and Unis'tot'en spokesperson Freda Huson (right) addressing participants at the camp.
Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en organizer Mel Bazil giving a workshop on carbon and biological offsets.
Harjap Grewal (left) and Harsha Walia (right) from No One Is Illegal Vancouver give a workshop on movement building.
As the camp winds down on the last night, stories, smiles, and laughs are shared around the fire.
Of course, no camp would be complete without guitar songs around a campfire.

The 4th Annual Unis'tot'en Action Camp was held on sovereign, unceded Wet'suwet'en territory from July 10-14, 2013. The camp drew around 200 people from across Turtle Island, who converged for four days to strategize, network, and support the Unis'tot'en struggle against proposed oil and gas pipelines on their territories.

All photos by Aaron Lakoff.

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