#169 | Heal The Land, Heal The People: The Unist'ot'en Healing Center w/ Dr. Karla Tait

In this episode, I speak with Dr. Karla Tait -- clinical psychologist, Director of Programming for the Unist'ot'en Healing Center, and member of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation (in so-called British Columbia, Canada). In this interview, I ask Dr. Tait to bring us up to speed on the details surrounding the recent invasion of Wet'suwet'en Territory by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on January 7th, the legal dimension of this ongoing confrontation between the Wet'suwet'en people and the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline project being pushed through by the Canadian government, and what this unfolding situation means for the sovereignty of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation and the ongoing work of the Unist'ot'en Healing Center within that territory.

After briefly discussing the details of these events, we move on to discuss Dr. Tait's work with the Unist'ot'en Healing Center at the Unist'ot'en Camp -- an ongoing project to revitalize the cultural/spiritual traditions of the Wet'suwet'en people as a means of healing from generations of trauma, as a result of the colonization of indigenous lands, peoples, and cultures, particularly within Wet'suwet'en territory. I ask her how the Wet’suwet’en people, in particular at the Unist’ot’en Camp and Healing Center, are generating and maintaining space for this kind of healing, and how the threat of direct confrontation with the Canadian State and its corporate allies (the fossil fuel industry) threatens the sacred work of this Camp and the Healing Center. What does the Unist’ot’en Camp and the Healing Center provide — not just for the Wet’suwet’en people — but for all people waking up to the reality of widespread ecological collapse and the ongoing violence of colonialism around the world? We discuss this and more in this episode.

Dr. Karla Tait is a clinical psychologist, and is presently employed as the Mental Wellness Advisor for the Northern Region with the First Nations Health Authority, serving the 54 First Nations in Northern BC. Dr. Tait is the Director of Programming for the Unist'ot'en Healing Centre, a collective effort by her Hereditary House Group to revitalize culturally-based, wellness and holistic healing practices that are centered on connection to the land. Dr. Tait belongs to the Gilseyhu clan (Big Frog) clan of Yahstowilcus (the Dark House). Her Dini Zi' (House Chief) is Unistot’en, Knedebeas, Warner William, maternal grandmother is Weli’, Catherine Michell, maternal grandfather was Tsayu, Wigitemstochol (Dan Michell), mother is Brenda Michell-Joseph, father is Rene Tait and stepfather is Melvin Joseph. Her father clan is Laksilhyu (small frog/cariboo).*

*Source: http://bit.ly/2B4Fzv5

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about the Unist’ot’en Camp, and support them: http://unistoten.camp

- Learn more about the Unist’ot’en Healing Center: http://bit.ly/UnistotenHC

- Follow the Unist’ot’en Camp on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unistoten

- Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/UnistotenCamp

- The audio featured at the beginning of this episode is from Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau's town hall event after the January 7th breach of the Gitdumt'en Checkpoint by RCMP: http://bit.ly/2Mt5zVH

#167 | No Access Without Consent: The Unist'ot’en Camp; In Defense Of The Sacred w/ Will Falk

In this episode, I speak with writer, lawyer, and environmental activist Will Falk. In 2014 and 2015, Will spent a great deal of time at the Unist’ot’en Camp, part of the Wet’suwet’en Nation (in so-called British Columbia). We place Will's activism and insights about his time at the Camp within the broader context of what is currently unfolding there. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), on January 7th, breached the borders of Wet’suwet’en territory, violating Canadian and International law, as well as the sovereignty of the unceded territory of the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

In this discussion, we get into the specific reasons behind the breach of the Wet’suwet’en Nation's borders by the RCMP on January 7th, leading to the arrest of 14 defenders of the territory. The proposed construction of a massive $4.7 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory has been in the works for almost a decade, and finally, after years of harassment by numerous parties, including the Canadian government, the RCMP broke through the barracaded border of the Wet’suwet’en territory.* How can we (speaking as settlers in North America) begin to understand what this struggle for indigenous autonomy means, especially within the broader struggle to upend white supremacy and colonial expansion in the modern era? In being able to preserve, maintain, and defend space for human and non-human life against the tide of colonial expansion, the continued autonomy of the Unist’ot’en Camp and the Wet’suwet’en Nation is key in our collective attempt to reclaim, heal, and live on the lands that have been violated in the name of human progress, civilization, and maintenance of the status quo.

It must be stated that Will is not a member of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, nor a spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en Camp. He speaks as someone who has spent a significant amount of time at the Camp and has developed a deep respect and love for the Wet’suwet’en people, the Unist'ot'en Camp, and the beautiful space they hold in their struggle against the state of Canada and the fossil fuel industry.

Will Falk is a writer, lawyer, and environmental activist. Will graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School and practiced as a public defender in Kenosha, WI. He left the public defender office to pursue frontline environmental activism. So far, activism has taken him to the Unist’ot’en Camp – an indigenous cultural center and pipeline blockade on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in so-called British Columbia, Canada, to a construction blockade on Mauna Kea in Hawai’i, and to endangered pinyon-juniper forests in the Great Basin.**

*Source: https://youtu.be/dE6gUXUexRg

**Source: http://willfalk.org/about

CORRECTION: I may have said in this episode that it was the Unist'ot'en Camp that was breached by the RCMP. In fact, it was the Gitdumt'en Checkpoint. Apologies.

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about Will and his work: http://willfalk.org

- Learn more about the Unist’ot’en Camp and the Wet’suwet’en Nation: http://unistoten.camp

- Donate to and support the Camp: http://unistoten.camp/support-us

- Read Will’s 2015 article ‘From Unist’ot’en Camp to Mauna Kea: This is What Civilization Does’: http://bit.ly/2SPFVwI

- The introduction of this episode features the song “Duration, Pt. 9” by Sixtoo from the album Duration, and audio from the video ‘Gitdumt'en Checkpoint Raided by RCMP’ by Michael T: https://youtu.be/NdB6W8YMy6M