Deep Green Resistance, Zoe Blunt, & indigenous anti-oil activists named as security threats

A report by the RCMP’s Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Team reveals that Canada state surveillance of, and rhetoric about, grassroots environmental activists is not much different than in the US. We see the same false suppositions:

  • The well being of the people aligns with that of exploitative corporations which destroy landbases and poison the land, water, and air
  • Those defending land for current and future human and non-human inhabitants are working against the well being of the people
  • National security is more dependent on the 1% making massive profits than on a living landbase supporting the 100%
  • Peaceful defenders are “extremists” for not accepting the above premises and not allowing governments and corporations to do as they please
  • Burning fossil fuels is not proven to contribute to climate change
  • Sabotage against industrial machinery (itself responsible for murder of actual living and breathing humans and non-humans) is “violence”
  • In fact, civil disobedience or anything else that breaks their rules to challenge their power is “violence”

Amongst others named or hinted at as threats are Deep Green Resistance New York, Zoe Blunt of Forest Action Network, and the Unis’tot’en Camp. all operating as aboveground, not criminal, organizations.

Michael Toledano wrote an excellent article for Vice, including quotes from interviews with many of the activists highlighted in the report. He ties the leaked RCMP paper into proposed Bill C-51, which would drastically ramp up law enforcement powers, allowing a “preventive” seven day detainment of those who “may” commit a violent crime. How helpful of the RCMP report to clarify that anyone opposing industry is part of an unpredictably violent movement! Tolenado contrasts this chilling official perspective with his own first-hand experiences reporting on protest actions in Canada.

It’s worth reading the entire piece for an understanding of the lies government agents tell themselves and ultimately the people, a glimpse into the many struggles taking place across Canada, and the indomitable spirit of resistance which won’t back down in the face of increased state repression. As Zoe Blunt says:

“Now when push comes to shove we’ll find out exactly how repressive and violent this government is. They are the ones who are violent. They’re the ones who are criminals. They’re the ones willing to destroy ecosystems, habitats, watersheds. They’re the ones who are willing to put our entire coastline at risk, and everything that depends on this landscape, everything that depends on these ecosystems is put at risk when they put these projects through.

“They’re looking at civil war. If they want these pipelines they’re going to get it over our dead bodies.”

Read the article at Anti-Oil Activists Named as National Security Threats Respond to Leaked RCMP Report

Unist’ot’en Camp report-back: Falling in Love

We recently highlighted Will Falk’s account as one of the Deep Green Resistance volunteers who braved the January snow and ice to help out at the Unist’ot’en Camp. Max Wilbert wrote another moving personal piece giving an overview of the Unist’ot’en Camp strategy and describing the experience of contributing to their struggle.

Snow lashed the road. The darkness was total, our headlights casting weak yellow beams into the darkness. Most people had hunkered down in homes and motels, and the roads were near empty. Still, every few minutes a passing truck threw a blinding cloud of dry snow into the air, leaving us blind for seconds at a time as we hurtled onwards at the fastest speeds we could manage.

We pressed on, for our destination was important. It was a caravan to the Unist’ot’en Camp, and we were committed.

[…]

Resistance is the antipode to the dominant culture, and the Unist’ot’en Camp illustrates two interlocking and fundamental truths. First, the system which is killing the planet and exploiting billions can and must be stopped. Second, resistance is our best chance of reclaiming the best traits our species can display: compassion, love, fierce loyalty, deep connection to the land, community and shared purpose.

Read Wilbert’s essay at Deep Green Resistance Seattle: Falling in Love and let it inspire you to support the Camp or another strategic campaign near and dear to you.

Unis’tot’en Camp, January 2015 – Will Falk

A group of Deep Green Resistance members from across the US and Canada delivered cash donations, supplies, and their labor to the Unis’tot’en Camp in early January. A support network for a strategic, indigenous-led front-line blockade is a crucial part of building a culture of resistance. DGR is proud to provide some of that support, and grateful to the camp hosts for allowing us to be involved.

Will Falk wrote about his experience on this recent trip, reflecting on his personal journey that has brought him through despair to activism, and the mingling of his new activist focus with personal and professional relationships and locations of his despair-filled past. He relates this to the larger culture of civilization, and the need for meaningful action to counteract the dangerous self-numbing in which we’re all encouraged to engage:

One way to understand the environmental catastrophe confronting us is to view the dominant culture as suffering from a profound case of despair. Despair permeates many religious traditions that say humans are fundamentally flawed, Earth is a scary place, and suffering is inevitable so we may as well embrace it to gain peace in another world. Despair permeates science cutting us off from other beings, telling us other beings are objects incapable of existing with humans in mutual relationship, and encouraging us to use (read: kill) other beings for the benefit of humans. Despair permeates our governments who view raw power and physical force as the only way to control this wildly unpredictable process we call “life.”

Many doctors have told me to reach out to old friends to help me remember who I was and what I was like before despair settled over me. In my worst moments, all I can see is darkness behind me, darkness upon me, and darkness ahead of me. Life is bad. Life was bad. Life will always be bad.

Part of spending so much time in Canada is being far from those who remember who I was. Lately, my desire for connection to a happier personal past has taken strange and pathetic forms. I wear an obnoxious green Notre Dame football flatbrim everywhere I go. I talk about my favorite band, Phish, with anyone who will listen. I find myself in bars just looking for company.

So, one of the benefits of the speaking tour I went on for the Unist’ot’en Camp involved spending time remembering myself with those who love me. But, the temporary feelings this time spent remembering released are dangerous. It would be easy to settle back down into a life based around salving the pain of depression. It would be easy to surround myself in good memories and turn my back on the problems of the world. If I did this, though, the world would still be burning. And, if the world burns for long enough, those I love will burn, too.

Read the entire essay: Reflections on Despair: Walking the Trapline at Unist’ot’en Camp, by Will Falk. And stay tuned for report-backs from other DGR members who attended the camp!

Gorilla Radio interviews: Will Falk and Vanessa Gray on the Unis’tot’en Camp

Liz McArthur of Victoria BC is creating a radio documentary on the Unis’tot’en Camp pipeline blockade. She interviewed two fellow volunteers who participated in the summer caravan to the Camp, and a third activist involved with defense of the Sacred Headwaters. The interviews aired on the August 4, 2014 episode of Gorilla Radio.

McArthur interviews:

  • Will Falk of Deep Green Resistance and Victoria Forest Action Network, on his environmental activism with the Camp and other efforts. He discusses the importance of supporting indigenous struggles, and what members of settler culture need to understand and how they should approach such solidarity work.
  • Vanessa Gray, a member of the Amjiwnaang nation in the Chemical Valley of Southern Ontario, describing the horrific conditions of living in close proximity to 63 oil and gas facilities, including pipelines, refineries, and loading docks. Gray describes the incredibly high rates of health problems brought on by this policy of environmental racism towards the indigenous. Gray brought youth to the Camp to show them that places still exist with clean water and air, and to inspire them to fight against the dominant culture of monetary profit at the sacrifice of people and land.
  • John Mowat Stephen briefly talks about activism with the Tahltan First Nation around the Sacred Headwaters in northern BC.

Listen to the interview to learn more about the front line struggles in BC against the fossil fuel industry, and how you can help:

Download mp3

Browse all DGR member appearances.

Short reflection on Unis’tot’en Camp by Justin Ellenbecker

Justin Ellenbecker, one of the DGR members who joined the July caravan to the Unis’tot’en Camp, reports back on his experience:

I’ve had many opportunities over recent years to attend some of the best training in theoretical concepts and workshops. This action camp provided that and something deeper: a chance to join with those on the front lines, to be a part of actively resisting, guided by people who understand the need to militantly respond to the threats facing the living world. I personally witnessed before my eyes people undergoing radical changes as they saw the material needs for a true resistance as more important than their ideological purity. I spent hours on security, construction, and permaculture tasks where for once the work was more important than group affiliation or rumor mongering. Conversations always took a path towards how the environmental movement needs to start winning offensive battles, crippling the means for those in power to destroy living ecosystems. People new and veteran to this type of work were tossing away the shells of symbolic dogmatism they had long sheltered themselves in, and craving more concrete ways to challenge the dominant culture. I dare say I found a place where my pessimism and extreme caution weren’t a necessary facet of negotiating the world of activism.

This is a place to get work done, and there is much work left to do. If you think you can possibly make it to the area, directly support the camp. If you can’t make it in person, donations of money and materials are always needed, and there may be ways to volunteer from afar. Please get in touch!

Will Falk series on Unis’tot’en Camp

DGR member Will Falk has been writing a regular series on his experiences at the Unis’tot’en Camp blockade of proposed pipeline construction. We’ve highlighted some of them here already, but thought it would be useful to link to the whole series of thoughtful essays on what it takes to build a true culture of resistance, and for members of settler culture to ally with indigenous peoples on the front lines:

Support the 2014 Unis’tot’en Action Camp

The indigenous Wet’suwet’en are holding the fifth annual Unis’tot’en Action Camp to blockade the construction of the Canadian Northern Gateway pipelines, a cluster of pipelines meant to carry tar sands crude and natural gas from fracking operations. This blockade is a strategic way to fight against these extremely dangerous and destructive projects. The Unis’tot’en territory has never been ceded to Canada, so the Wet’suwet’en have both a legal standing and a deep commitment to defending their landbase. This is a battle that can be won by defenders of the land and climate change activists.

To learn more about the background of the blockade and about the Camp, visit the Unis’tot’en Camp website and watch the 2012 Deep Green Resistance West Coast Tour video below:

Report Back from West Coast Speaking Tour and Unis’tot’en Action Camp

View a video recording of one of the stops on this tour:

A SPECIAL THANKS! to all who helped put this report back together, and an EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS! to all the wonderful people who helped us along the way with donations, roofs, and well-wishes. We couldn’t do this without your support!

The frontline of the struggle for indigenous sovereignty – against industrial extraction, against corporate pipelines – is not in Washington D.C. or Victoria, British Columbia. It is not in the offices of Greenpeace or 350.org. To get to one of the many places the where the battle is being waged, you have to travel an hour and a half down a dirt logging road in central British Columbia. Surrounded by forests of Black Spruce and Lodge Pole Pine on the bank of the Morice River, at the edge of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory, is the Unis’tot’en Action Camp. Here, the Wet’suwet’en are holding their ground, defending their traditional lands from a set of 9 oil & gas pipelines the Canadian government (and a host of multinational corporations, collectively worth hundreds of billions of dollars) want to build. Earlier this month, for the third year in a row, they invited their allies and supporters to take part in the week-long Action Camp, which included workshops, discussions, trainings, mutual aid, and relationship building.

But our story begins almost three weeks beforehand.



A few of the roadshow crew hanging out
by the trusty van waiting for the others to catch up.
From left: Val, Dillon, Andrew, and Spencer (Photo by Max Wilbert)

Over the last several weeks, organizers from DGR have been traveling up the Pacific Northwest on our way to the Unis’tot’en Action Camp. Along the way, we stopped in cities to gather donations, funds, and messages of support and solidarity for the Wet’suwet’en.

Max, Val and Xander started the tour in Eugene, OR, where about 20 people met in the Meitreya Straw Bale House, which is squeezed into the corner of a packed garden. Our first talk went smoothly, with some great discussion afterwards. We got some great donations and got a chance to visit with some interesting, unique folks. Thanks to the people in Eugene who helped put this event on!

In Bend, Rachel and Alex joined the tour and caravan, and we were treated to a meal consisting of some of the chief foods of the region – fresh local salmon, berries, and greens – as well as great discussion about activism, solidarity, and the Cascadia bioregion. Those who hosted us in Bend are also working hard on a documentary called Occupied Cascadia, which includes interviews with Lierre Keith, Derrick Jensen, and DGR’s Dillon Thomson and Max Wilbert. You can watch the trailer here.

In Portland, Val and Rachel spent three days at RadFem Reboot, a conference on radical feminism that they found to be a valuable experience of woman-centered learning and solidarity. The rest of us went hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, where we picked huckleberries and listened as a local friend told us about the horrific role of damns in destroying the land. We also rendezvoused with supporters in several parks to collect donations of food, camping, and clothing.

Dillon and Xander keeping watch by the fire
(Photo by Max Wilbert)

In Olympia, we only had a handful of folks come out for the talk. Max and Xander were the only two at Last Word Books, with the rest of the crew staying back in Portland. With a small audience we decided to go with more of a discussion format than a presentation/q & a arrangement. Max and Xander gave a short version of their talks, then proceeded into a discussion about Indigenous support and some of the issues faced by Indigenous communities.

Immediately after Olympia, it was on to Seattle, where we spoke at Couth Buzzard Books and were treated to live music by not one, but two fantastic local musicians, Jeremy Serwer and Mads Jacobson. After some great discussions about militant strategy and class-based politics, we took a late-night ferry to Vashon Island, to spend a short 24 hours at the Localize This! Action Camp, organized by the Backbone Campaign.

We were fortunate enough to have several days of rest in Bellingham, where Dillon, Tarun, Andrew and Spencer joined our northward journey. We were hosted at the local Co-op by the Fertile Ground Environmental Institute (a local non-profit founded by some current DGR members), and the event had the largest turnout of the tour. We received LOADS of food donations from our many wonderful supporters in Bellingham. We also spent time swimming at Whatcom Falls and exploring a rare patch of old-growth forest, before leaving for Vancouver and our rendezvous with a caravan organized by Zoe Blunt from Forest Action Network among other organizations.

After crossing the border without any hassles, we spent a slow afternoon playing Frisbee, reading, and napping in a park, before heading to the Purple Thistle Centre (where we met up with Ivor and Lona), where our event in Vancouver was held. We had some wonderful conversations with folks about security culture, prisoner support, and preventing the infiltration of masculinity into our movements. After the event, we headed to nearby Calvary Baptist Church, which had reached out and offered us sleeping space. The next morning, we met around sixty folks traveling with the caravan, and after a last-minute oil change, we embarked on the 700 mile trek to the action camp.

Camping the first night on the caravan
between Vancouver and the camp
(Photo by Max Wilbert)

We didn’t arrive at the camp until 4:00 am two days later, after getting lost in the endless and confusing matrix of unmarked logging roads that snake around through the hills and along rivers. It was cold and dark, with the earliest hints of daylight beginning to creep up along the eastern edge of the sky as we rolled to a stop at the bridge over Wedzin Kwah (Morice River). Wet’suwet’en territory, the location of the action camp, lay beyond the bridge on the other side. After honking a car horn, we waited to be met on the bridge by the hosts of the Action Camp. The Unis’tot’en call the protocol for entering their territory ‘Free, Prior, & Informed Consent’.

Those seeking to pass through or stay on their lands wait at the edge of the territory until they are met by Unis’tot’en, who ask who they are, where they come from, what their business is on Unis’tot’en land, and of what benefit it will be to the Unis’tot’en. The protocol is tradition to
the Unis’tot’en, and those permitted into their territory are expected to respect and abide by Unis’tot’en law. After filing one by one to meet and introduce ourselves to the hosts, we rolled wearily across the bridge and into camp, set up our tents, and collapsed for a much needed, if brief, sleep.

The next day was spent settling into camp, meeting the other participants, and helping erect some basic infrastructure. After a late oatmeal breakfast, we broke out into informal work crews, some of us building a camp-kitchen, others dug and built latrines, cleared and built a camp gathering circle & benches, and set up ropes for tree-climbing trainings. After a productive day of getting to know one another, we were honored with a performance by the ‘Ewk Hiyah Hozdli Dance Group Co-op, singing and dancing traditional Wet’suwet’en songs.



Beautiful Sky in the land of the Unis’tot’en
(Photo by Max Wilbert)

The morning was spent as a whole group, meeting and introducing ourselves to the Chief and some of the elders of the Unis’tot’en Clan, and hearing their words about the Unis’tot’en resistance against the pipelines. We also were updated on some events from the previous night, when logging contractors with the company Canfor tried to enter the territory for a logging operation. The Unis’tot’en met them on the bridge over the Morice River, at the edge of their territory. The loggers were surprised by having to identify themselves and justify their entrance onto Unis’tot’en land. They were asked to present the maps of the area they were operating in, and when the Unis’tot’en saw that the Canfor contractors were logging out a right-of-way for a pipeline, they denied access. While upset at being turned away, the loggers hopefully left with a new appreciation for Unis’tot’en protocol and sovereignty.

We all spent that afternoon together at the first half of a two-part Decolonization & Respectful Race Relations workshop, led by a Coast Salish woman. She talked about her experience of decolonizing herself and the struggles that accompanied that journey, as well as addressing the systemic oppression and colonization that affect her people.

Elders preparing moose meat for camp dinner
(Photo by Max Wilbert)


The next day (Wednesday the 8th) saw a surprise visit by three members of the Warrior Alliance, a coalition of members from different First Nations warrior societies. Together with a former member of the Black Panther Party, they put on a full day workshop. In the morning, they talked about what a warrior is and what it means to be a warrior. Needless to say, the criteria they presented are glaringly different (and incalculably more honorable) than those of soldiers within Settler (or Invader) Society. After breaking for lunch, the topics turned to organizational strategy & security, and protecting ourselves and our movements from the COINTELPRO & counterinsurgency tactics so often employed against us by police and state forces. It was incredibly informative and eye-opening; an invaluable experience to say the least. Sitting around a small fire on sentry duty down by the bridge, with our minds still churning from the discussions earlier in the day, some of us had time to talk about how this all applied to DGR, and where we’d like to see ourselves move as an organization. That night, a women’s circle was also convened around a fire near the camping area, providing both indigenous and settler women with an opportunity to share their experiences.

Thursday was a day of serious workshop-ing; beginning with the second half of the Decolonization workshop, which discussed about cultural appropriation, settler/invader privilege, and how indigenous peoples are often outnumbered by white outsiders. In the words of the presenter, the workshop was aimed at making people ‘uncomfortable’, and it was openly discussed how those acting in ‘solidarity’ with indigenous struggles so often put their own spiritual and emotional needs ahead of the cause at hand, effectively commodifying indigenous cultures and ways of being, rather than fully respecting and standing in solidarity with those struggles. It was one of the most powerful and necessary topics & discussions that took place at the camp, and left everyone with lots to think about and (more importantly) act on.

The Unis’tot’en welcome mat for Pacific Trails
(Photo by Max Wilbert)

Deep Green Resistance had the honor (and challenge) of following the Decolonization workshop. Xander and Val spoke briefly about the destruction & oppression inherent to civilization, the Decisive Ecological Warfare Strategy promoted by DGR, and some of our own guidelines for indigenous solidarity work. There were a lot of great points brought up, and great answers and discussion. One man asked whether bicycles were part of the future we envisioned, and after a lengthy answer about the horrors of industrial mining & manufacturing, someone else summed it up beautifully & succinctly, saying “Who cares about bicycles?” When the health of the world is at risk, technological trinkets that require mining and production (and therefore destruction and oppression) should not be our focus.

That afternoon, we split among several different workshops; some of us went for a plant walk guided by some of the Wet’suwet’en, some attended a film-making workshop led by Frank Lopez (of Submedia & END:CIV fame), some helped construct a smokehouse, and others practiced tree-climbing.

Friday, the last day of the camp, saw another fast-paced series of workshops: “Nonviolent Direct Action”, “Creative Action Planning”, and “Systems Change not Climate Change” (during which Indigenous peoples from across so-called Canada spoke about how climate change was affecting & damaging their traditional lands and ways of being).

At the same time, a crew of us spent the morning digging holes for food caches, where dried and non-perishable foods would be stored for future use. Later in the day, we wove willow-mats and cut pine boughs to cover the holes before burying them with dirt. As a surprise, our hosts took us on a short walk to show us an old pit-house, where Unis’tot’en had lived decades before, and trees they had marked.

Our last night saw more drumming and performances, with several heartfelt goodbyes and folks beginning to leave the camp. We found our hosts after things died down and formally thanked them for inviting us into their territory, and promised continued solidarity and support. We made a hasty departure very early the next morning, leaving early in the morning, about the same time we had arrived, as the first pale fingers of daylight started to stretch across the quickly fading stars. Our time in Unis’tot’en territory was brief, but the connections and relationships we made will last much longer. Having set foot on Unis’tot’en territory, having drunk from the water and eaten from the land, we are indebted to defend this place and stand in solidarity with the Unis’tot’en people to protect their landbase.

DGR Caravan / Speaking Tour to Unis'tot'en Action Camp

Deep Green Resistance will be participating in, and working to raise awareness and support for, the 3rd Annual Unis’tot’en Action Camp in Unis’tot’en territory in the north of Unceded Occupied so-called British Columbia. In addition, several DGR members will be traveling up the west coast holding public events to build opposition to these genocidal and ecocidal pipelines and gather donations of food, blankets, money, and other supplies, and then attending the 3rd annual Unis’tot’en Action Camp August 6th-10th.

We seek to stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and other First Nations in their fight against the exploitation and degradation brought on by the tar sands, including the Enbridge Northern Gateway and other pipelines, fuel terminals, and refineries. Members of Deep Green Resistance will participate in the Action Camp, as well as organize a series of events to raise support [and collect donations?] for the Unis’tot’en Action Camp and the struggle.

Now in its third year of resistance in the ongoing struggle, the Action Camp, will see many activities focused on building solidarity, as well as campaign and action planning for those communities who will stop the pipelines and mining projects that are unwelcome in the First Nations territories. The Lhe Lin Liyin, will stand with strong and uncompromising allies to stop this destruction to protect future generations and biodiversity. In taking this action, we will act in solidarity with those living amidst the horrific damage of the tar sands in northern Alberta, as well as those affected by natural gas & shale oil fracking. The Action Camp is located on the shore of the Wedzin Kwah and the mouth of the Gosnell Creek (km 66 on the Morice River West FSR), tributaries to the Skeena, Bulkley, and Babine Rivers, at the exact location where the Northern Gateway Pipeline, the Pembina Pipeline, the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and the Kitimat Summit Lake Looping Project seek to cross the rivers.

In addition to participating in the Action Camp, we seek to raise support for our allies fighting the pipeline projects. Deep Green Resistance will be planning several events in the Pacific Northwest to raise awareness about the ongoing struggle by the Wet’suwet’en and other First Nations against the colonization and destruction by the fossil fuel industry.

Read a report-back from this Unis’tot’en speaking tour or see all DGR events related to the Unis’tot’en Camp.

Support “Stop The Flows”

Support Radical Media

Stop the Flows is the latest project from our friend Frank Lopez at Submedia.tv.

“Over the next five years I will document resistance movements that are working towards stopping the flows of hydro carbons, mineral extraction, natural resources and capital, through grassroots and underground organizing. I will publish the dispatches as I complete them with the goal of compiling them into a feature length documentary to be released on 2016.

The first dispatch took me to Central BC where Unis’toten nation are pre-empting the construction of 4 oil and gas pipelines through their traditional territories.

The next dispatch will focus on the growing opposition to an oil pipeline expansion right here where I live in Vancouver. In December I will compile the hours of interviews and footage I gathered while in Japan, for a dispatch spotlighting the growing grassroots anti-nuke movement. In January I hope to travel to Australia to continue touring and gathering material for Stop the Flows and ditto goes for Europe in the spring.”

Frank Lopez has been making radical media for years, and has been one of the biggest supporters of the Deep Green Resistance movement. His film END:CIV has been shown in hundreds of venues around the world in several languages, and has been viewed over 80,000 times online. Now Frank needs help to support his latest project.

Let’s all dig deep and send him some love!

Stop the Flows