VICTORIA, May 1, 2014 /CNW/ - It's like David and Goliath: A small indigenous group and a tiny non-profit squaring off against international energy companies backed by the provincial and federal government.
But Forest Action Network director Zoe Blunt says she likes the odds.
The Victoria-based eco-group has a record of winning against oversized opponents, Blunt says. "We have lawyers and we're ready to fight."
FAN is working with Unis'tot'en Camp, a group of "grassroots Wet'suwet'en" people near Smithers BC. The Unis'tot'en Clan and their allies have built cabins, gardens, and traditional homes in the right-of-way for three pipeline projects: Coastal Gas, Enbridge Northern Gateway, and Pacific Trail Pipeline (PTP).
In mid-April, a PTP representative announced plans to start construction on the pipeline route through Unis'to'ten Camp in June. The statement came at a public meeting, days after a press conference where Freda Huson, the camp spokesperson, and hereditary chief Toghestiy of the Likhts'amisyu Clan disclosed that the province and PTP are discussing getting a court order to remove the camp.
In response, FAN and Blunt issued an ultimatum: If PTP wants an injunction, it will have to go through them.
"If you mess with our friends, you're messing with us," Blunt says. "We won't stand by and let oil and gas companies evict an indigenous community."
The group retained Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward to send a legal notice to the government and PTP's owners, Apache and Chevron.
Unis'tot'en Camp is blocking the route PTP plans to use to deliver a billion cubic feet of gas per day from the fracking fields of the Laird and Horn River Basins to a proposed LNG processing plant in Kitimat. Since November 2013, the Unis'tot'en Clan has turned away several work crews contracted to Apache and Chevron.
"We're honoured to stand with grassroots Wet'wuwet'en people to stop corporations from destroying the land and water through hydraulic fracturing," Blunt says.
"Everyone who wants to stop climate change and protect land and water should be standing with us," she adds. "We are driven by our love for the land and we're backed by thousands of supporters, and we fight to win."
The looming conflict will make the battle for Clayoquot Sound look "like a picnic in the park," Blunt says.
SOURCE: Forest Action Network
For further information: