Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief Gisday’wa came upon the scene of his burned cabin on Saturday morning by chance. He was driving through the territory with his wife on their way to go on a rafting trip.
When he reached the 27-kilometre point of the Morice Forest Service Road, just outside Houston, B.C., he said police were “all over the place” and he saw one of his cabins had burned.
There was nothing left of the building, “just ashes,” he said.
Months ago, the site at the 27-kilometre mark of the forest service road was bustling with people. It was set up as a hub for the Wet’suwet’en and their supporters during the RCMP enforcement of the Coastal GasLink injunction, largely because it was outside of the initial exclusion zone established by the RCMP.
When the exclusion zone grew during enforcement actions, several people were arrested at the site.
RCMP said in an emailed statement they are investigating the fire and ask anyone with information to get in touch with police.
Police said the community-industry response team, located a couple kilometres away from the site, received the initial report and were first on-scene. Houston RCMP are now in charge of the investigation.
Gisday’wa said nobody was staying at the cabins at the time. He said the last time he’d checked on them, a few weeks ago, everything was in order.
He said the cabin that burned was stocked with things like sleeping bags and other household goods for people to use during their visits.
Gisday’wa said he and hereditary chief Madeek are working on plans to meet with the police so they can discuss setting up a gate on the forest service road.
He said a gate would allow the chiefs to establish some control over who can move in and out of the area.
“It’s open to anybody to go through there but if they don’t respect the territory and the stuff that’s in it, to hell with them. They’re not going to go in there,” he said.