Blog: Sacred Headwaters, the Klabona Keepers and the Blockade

A light snow blankets the blockade. Photo credit: Jeff Wirth

A light snow blankets the blockade. Photo credit: Jeff Wirth

October first marks two weeks on the blockade in the Sacred Headwaters. The first snow has touched the ground. Two days ago, I saw a red fox dart past our camp and into the forest. This morning, its tracks lined the road leading into the Klappan Range.

There are only a handful of times that I have felt truly engulfed in a wild place. Time spent on board the flagship vessel of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society allowed me to traverse Antarctica in pursuit of the illegal Japanese whaling fleet. Today, in support of the Klabona Keepers and with the Wildlife Defence League, a small group of folks, myself included, are blockading the only road leading into the Sacred Headwaters from trophy hunters and resident hunters alike. In each instance, I have felt enveloped by these wild places; it is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced.

However, my time in wild places is not, and has never been, to seek adventure. It has not been to escape a city or to find meaning in life. My time in wild places has been spent interfering with and stopping those who seek to eradicate wildlife, be it for financial gain or simply for trophy.

Since arriving in the Sacred Headwaters, I have had the honor of spending time with, listening to and learning from true land and wildlife defenders. The Klabona Keepers are an organization of Tahltan Elders and families who occupy and use traditional lands near Iskut, British Columbia, known as Tl’abane, the Sacred Headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena Rivers. They have defended their territory from exploitation, removing corporations such as Shell permanently. Last summer, they kicked out Fortune Minerals and recently occupied a drill owned and operated by Firesteel and forced them off their land. The Klabona Keepers have also previously blockaded the Sacred Headwaters from trophy hunting and overhunting. The group is made up of folks who survived the attempted extermination of their people through residential schools as well as young warriors who have followed their elder’s lead.

I am continually inspired by the Klabona Keepers stories of resistance and survival. Their pursuit of justice for land and people is a spirit that cannot be broken. As a privileged white male settler, I will never be able to fully understand or relate to their struggle, but as I continue to learn from them, I hope that I can embody some of that same spirit to never stop fighting for what is truly right. 

In solidarity with the Klabona Keepers and in defence of wildlife hunted for trophy.