It would be an understatement to say that Unist’ot’en Camp left its mark on my life. The unlearning is a huge part of it. It was at the camp that I attended my first workshops about Decolonization and direct action, tree climbing and permaculture. Life hasn’t been the same since. I suppose the simplest way to put it, is that in this space I heard truths spoken and felt their message resonate in the depths of my belly.
I felt empowered by what I learned there, and I engaged with the community around me. I made a heartfelt promise to the land that I would do what I could to support its protection and have been lucky enough to go back time and time again. It is a real privilege to do so. Freda is a constant example of strength without violence, truth without insult, humour without crassness, and I am endlessly learning how to do things better by being around her.
The energy of the camp is inspiring. Some mornings, an elder of seventy-five lead exercises before morning prayer circle, or someone else leads lessons in karate on the bridge. One night during construction camp the bunkhouse was teeming, and all at once there was a tattoo being done at the back, cribbage off to the side and someone rambling along on a guitar next to the wood stove. Issues are hashed out over coffee or around the fire, or wrung out in prayer circle.
It is both easy and serious to commit to this land, to these people and to this movement that is so intimately entwined with so many others. I believe that the more you know, the more you care, and the amount of empathy and experience that crosses that river is staggering. This place is a gift, a place of healing.
Every now and then someone will ask me, “Do you really think the Camp can win this thing?”
I now reply, “It already has in so many ways.”
photo: Unist’ot’en Camp