We decided to stop over at the Unistoten Camp- A protest line in combating the proposed pipeline through their territory.
My helper Sarah was coming with me to the next festival called Edge of the World, on the rugged and wild island of Haida Gwaii. An ambitious twelve hour drive and eight hour ferry away and we met someone who was heading to the Unistoten Camp for two weeks to help out, so we thought it was a good excuse for us to go for the little time we could afford. The guy we brought was a little strange, but enthusiastic and had been at protest camps before.
We were met on the bridge by a woman from the Unistotens, who asked us to state our names, where we come from, what we could bring to the camp, and if we worked for any oil company. It was a dramatic scene, surrounded by thick forest, a rushing bright blue river below us, and at the end of a logging road. It was drizzling with rain, and while we were driving up Gwendolyn The Delica was splashed by logging truck, completely covering her in mud. The window wipers weren't working, so I had to jump out and grab some paper towel before we continued.
We were welcomed through and had a tour of the camp. The dining hall had a large white board with a list of chores to be done, and a space beside it for your name. I signed up for dishwashing after dinner and to water plants the next day. Sarah signed up for the morning shift at the bridge and to help construct the new healing centre. At 6AM her and another were to take watch 'til around noon, and notify the camp if someone showed up at the bridge.
The woman who had allowed our entry was giving the tour, and before we got to Freda's house a plane flew over. The woman covered her face with her jacket and mentioned how low flying planes were taking photos of the camp, to check out numbers of protestors.
The smiling faces of people welcoming us, the neat buildings, the flower pots- it was easy to forget that this was a protest line. I have never seen such a clean outhouse, tightly knit community or well prepared food. Freda is the organizer of the Unistoten Camp, and in her house two people were cutting and preparing bear meat from a recent hunt. We sat down and helped them slice up the meat, and chatted about the camp and how it works.
People take on shifts every day- from watching the bridge, clean up, admin, gardening, cooking, dishes, construction. They have a morning meeting and bless the food before breakfast, have a light lunch and full dinner.
That evening we had the choice between Bear or Moose. I chose Bear that had been cured and stored from a few months prior. It was delicious and tasted like a mix between beef and deer. We had a stir fry, salad and a berry crumble for desert.
Sarah and I were embarrassed that we could only help out for 24 hours, but insisted that the guy we brought with us from ArtsWells would make up for it for a longer stay of two weeks. We found out later that he stayed just three days, before being asked to leave because he was taking too many photos of the camp and creeped people out.
We left, saying we would spread the word for people to help for longer stints, and wished them well with their fight against the oil companies.