The Wet’suwet’en inhabited Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. for thousands of years. As recent as 1909 the Wet’suwet’en—who speak Lax Kw’alaams, but whose name is closer to what the Laxisht Inuit called the forest—were in possession of an unbroken stretch of coast stretching from Saltspring Island to just outside of Kamloops. A vast stretch of untamed primeval forest, of unique coastal wildlife, of abundant cod and whale and marine, as well as unique ecosystems, all of which, the greater British Columbia government, including Prince George, insist to this day are currently protected under Wet’suwet’en and Tsleil-Waututh land claims, although, the contested areas are much closer to major commercial shipping hubs.
Overnight stay on the Wet’suwet’en land: Last night’s on the Lands of the Unceded: Deep Inside the Headlands and Coastal GasLink’s Olympic Site dam for me
In 1983, the Vancouver Island Ferry, operated by BC Ferries, hauled in a cargo of construction equipment for the Coastal GasLink Pipeline—estimated to make a kilometre-long lateral link to the Ridley Island LNG Project in northern B.C. Much to the frustration of the Wet’suwet’en, Coastal GasLink has not finalized that long lateral pipeline and in response, a series of demonstrations have taken place both on the land of the Wet’suwet’en and near the Vancouver Island Ferry terminal in Prince Rupert. The Wet’suwet’en’s protest started immediately, and it built and grew, complete with drum circles and singing and dancing. The HydroSouthern system, meanwhile, broke down in eastern BC, so BC Hydro had to crowdfund “strawmen,” to stand in as the next ferry for the hundreds of people who had been on the train and who were then sent out to the remote land, far from their homes, who were told they were being evacuated in advance.
Hotly contested, bloody, fiery, unpredictable, formal, informal and spiritual: That’s how I would describe the Wet’suwet’en people, a people whose numbers are in the thousands.
Kathy White, Brenda Ferguson, and Laura Harris are all members of the Poetic Photography group, who tour British Columbia’s beautiful places, curious souls who like to listen to musical instruments and to share stories of the earth—and to draw pictures of the earth. To learn more about these extraordinary people visit info.poeticphotography.org