Art for Unis’tot’en Camp

My last couple blog posts reflected thoughts when running in the normal rainy storm season of the lower mainland, but the last couple days ushered in a cold arctic ridge of high pressure that has brought in chilly northeasterly outflow winds and cold blue skies with pure sunshine. This morning was my first run in such weather, and I wore my first double-layer of running shirts to stay warm. I am now up to the final three weeks of the program, with runs from today until the end just kind of plateauing at 25-30 minutes per run. It feels damn good, I have to say, to have made it this far, to run almost two miles straight now at a time. I know for some that is peanuts, but for me it is a milestone. Running against wintry winds was a real boost, especially while listening to good music. Just feeling the beautiful elements against my hot face was uplifting.

I was cold for a lot of the run, and I thought of my northern neighbors, the First Nations in the rainforest up in the Skeena North Coast. Whereas we are dipping slightly below freezing at night, our temps are still positive in the day. Our neighbors to the north have temperatures below freezing this week even during the day, and it looks like snow is coming soon to them. Many people up there live in their culture, surviving largely off the land; canning berries picked during the summer; hunting, fishing, and storing meat for the winter; and so on.

I’ve been inspired by the efforts of The Gitxan, Unis’tot’en/Wet’suwet’en Territories, in setting up camps in their unceded land in order to stop gas and oil pipelines that have never had permission to go through these territories despite the federal and provincial governments thinking that they have approval to decide otherwise. If you’re wondering about the law surrounding First Nations and unceded territories, read my essays here and here. I also talked to the spokesperson of the Unis’tot’en Camp, Freda Huson, and that interview is here. I wholly support First Nations who refuse to give up their culture, which hugely involves living off the forests and rivers and streams around them. These people are on the front lines, and we should support them.

I was invited earlier this week to a Facebook group, Art for Unis’tot’en Camp benefit auction, where artists and authors can donate items for auctioning–the proceeds will help supply the Unis’tot’en Camp for the winter. I hope to encourage my artist friends to support this camp. The people there are standing in the way, quite literally, to stop further destruction of their culture, the rainforest, and the ocean and riparian habitats from oil and gas expansion and transport through there. I want to at this point beg everyone, please help. It’s important to bid, not just post items. The camp is not just resisting local intrusion of pipelines, it is, in essence, standing up for everyone in the world to show that big industry cannot continue to destroy our world for quick and short-term profit. If you really care about doing something to curb climate change, then stand up too and help stop the industries that are hell-bent on continuing to emit pollutants that end up in the air, water, and soil. If it’s in those places, make no mistake that these contaminants make their way back to us in some form or another.

Support the First Nations, who have the best legal legs to stand on to stop dirty oil expansion.

I want to thank the poets, who I’ve worked with before in beach cleanups, readings, earthwalks–Stephen Collis, Rita Wong, Christine LeClerc–for constantly giving their stories and art to such causes, and also Zoe Blunt for running this drive. Already, local artists and authors are donating their poetry, paintings, you name it. The FB group says that Naomi Klein is also donating several copies of her NYT bestselling book This Changes Everything.

The Unis’tot’en Camp needs to make it through the winter, which is what this art donation drive is about. Part of it is that they have to blockade industry (who keeps going in uninvited), which means the camp has to build living spaces at areas that Enbridge, TransCanada, Coastal Gaslink, and other oil/gas companies are trespassing. Building and occupying these blockades that double as living spaces takes money and time.

Here’s some more information:

Anyway, this is all I could think about today when running. I just keep thinking about these people who are struggling to maintain their way of life and their rights.

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