Preparing for your Visit
Coming to Unist’ot’en Camp
The camp is located on a forest road near Houston, BC, 1200 km (740 miles) north of Vancouver. The Greyhound bus depot and Via Rail station are in Houston, and the nearest airport is in Smithers. If you are driving, please see updated directions and road conditions.
Conditions at the Camp
Weather has been getting weirder and more changeable everywhere in the world as the climate changes – and north central British Columbia is no exception. There have been snow storms and thaws, nice crisp cold days and surprisingly mild ones.
A group of supporters works on construction of the Healing Center at the annual Spring Construction Camp.
Good idea before heading up is to check the current weather and forecast for Houston, the nearest town to the Camp. But the Camp is at a higher elevation so adjust accordingly. Often a little warmer in the day, and cooler at night than in Houston during the warmer months but in the winter expect cooler temperatures and more snow than in town.
What Will Happen During Your Visit?
***Update January 18, 2019: Please be aware that due to recent militarized raids and invasion at the camp, which you may review here on our blog, this information below may no longer be applicable and changes daily***
At the entrance to the camp, at the bridge over Wedzin Kwah (Morice River), the hosts greet visitors with the Free, Prior, Informed Consent protocol. Each person entering Unis’tot’en territory is asked where you are from, what you can offer to help the people defending their land, whether you have worked for resource extraction companies, and other questions.
In the summer months most volunteers camp out in tents on the land but there is now plenty of wood-heated indoor sleeping space for the winter. However, even in the warmer months nights can be quite chilly, especially when the sky is clear. If you prefer indoor sleeping arrangements check with the hosts regarding available space but be prepared to camp out.
Volunteers take turns cooking group meals and washing up afterwards in the Healing Centre’s large indoor kitchen. Vegan and gluten-free options are available.
The camp has electricity from solar panels and a diesel back-up generator. They also have a satellite communication system for emergencies. But there is no indoor toilet, wifi, or cellphone access. Outhouses have been converted to the “composting type”. There is hot and cold running water in the bunkhouse for wash-up and showers. Visitors are asked to use the hot water sparingly and make a contribution to the donation jar to cover the cost of the propane used by the water heater.
This is an action camp. The Unist’ot’en people and their allies have set up a “checkpoint,” closing the road to pipeline crews and those who don’t respect their protocol. The camp is not breaking any laws, but there have been threats and violence committed by the RCMP on behalf of the oil and gas industry. The Camp remains in a state of high alert. Please be aware that the situation may change at any time.
Be prepared to support non-violent direct action to delay or prevent unauthorized entry to the territory.
No matter what the time of year there is always lots of work to be done. Priorities change with the seasons. Trapping, bucking and splitting wood for the stoves, cooking and cleaning are major activities in the winter in addition to maintaining the ongoing security of the Camp.
The hosts make all the decisions on their land. It is not the place of visitors to argue or refuse to abide by their decisions. Visitors who can’t get along at Unist’ot’en camp or who do not respect the camp hosts, the rules, the land, or the property of the camp qualify for a free ride to the bus depot in Houston BC. It is strongly suggested that you read Resources for Allyship and Solidarity.
What to Bring
- Suitable footwear (work boots)
- Warm clothing
- Sleeping bag
- Basic necessities for comfort on the land
- Goggles and a headlamp recommended
- Personal Protective Equipment such as work gloves and ear protection. (Chainsaws and other power equipment are noisy – whether you are using them or are in the area of someone who is.)
- Food to share with the camp
- Prescription medications
- The camp also welcomes: Donations of cash, home preserves, tobacco, and other useful items (see our list on the Camp Needs page)
Guidelines for Behaviour
- The Unist’ot’en make all the decisions on their land – visitors will not argue or refuse to abide by their decisions.
- Please don’t come to the camp if you’re sick or have parasites.
- Do not bring drugs or alcohol of any kind (except prescription medicine).
- Do not bring weapons of any kind.
- Dogs (or any other pets) are not allowed to visit the camp.
- Take everything you brought with you when you leave, and do not take anything that is not yours. Do not leave clothes, tents, and other non-essentials behind unless the camp hosts ask you to.
- Public nudity is not permitted.
- No picking, harvesting, or removal of plants without express permission/request of hosts.
- People of all races, religions, nationalities, classes, genders, orientations, and gender identifications are welcome to support the grassroots Wet’suwet’en people in defending their land. The hosts expect all volunteers to respect diverse views and seek common ground rather than conflict.