The Unist’ot’en Camp is a protest site in northern BC, not too far from the town of Houston. The camp is a collaboration between a couple of First Nations activists and radical violence promoting anarchists from Vancouver and Victoria. Camp spokespeople claim that they’re positioned at the exact junction of several planned pipelines. They’ve warned pipeline companies that their workers will be forcefully stopped if they’re seen “in our territory”, and that their equipment will be “confiscated” (stolen).
Last year activists built a cabin on Crown land where Unist’ot’en stands- funding was managed by Bob Ages of the Council of Canadians, a bus load of volunteers were shuttled in to construct it by Victoria anarchist Zoe Bunt. They also built extra “security” measures to protect the camp from bring raided by the police- surrounding the camp with barbed wire and building trap-lines around their “territory”. Curiously, the police and provincial government have neglected to take any action- that said, the RCMP have been tracking the camp for their extremism since 2010.
Hungry for a fight, Unist’ot’en protesters are upping the ante this year with plans to construct a building they’re calling a “Healing Centre”. Like last year they’ve also setup a fundraiser- the goal is to raise $40,000. They’ve got pledges for over $13,000 since they started the fundraiser a few weeks ago- the contributor’s list is quite interesting.
So, What’s The Plan?
The fundraiser’s pitch describes the the Healing Centre as a building that will contain counselling rooms, meeting rooms, a kitchen & dining hall and sleeping quarters large enough for 20 people. Their goal is to build the first phase this spring- including the kitchen and dining hall. The cost for the first phase is estimated at $40,000, and there will be a second fundraiser for phase two where it’s expected they’ll be looking for a similar amount of money.
The fundraiser’s webpage was setup by Dave Ages of Galiano Island, BC- he’s the brother of Bob Ages of the Council of Canadians. Bob led last year’s $30,000 fundraiser for the “Bunk House”, a cabin build last with the help of a group bussed in last year by Victoria anarchist Tracie Marie Park (a.k.a. Zoe Blunt).
Dave Ages’ biography describes him as:
“a long time activist including in trade unions, anti-racist and progressive organizations and the peace movement. The first half of his working life included factory work, construction, shipbuilding and fishpacking. He then began a career in industrial relations and recently retired as a Labour Relations Officer with the BC Nurses’ Union. He continues to be active in local and international issues”
Despite living outside of their jurisdiction, Dave Ages is listed as a “member at-large” with the Coalition of Progressive Electors- Vancouver’s radical left political party connected to high-profile protests including last year’s occupation of Oppenheimer Park. Dave is retired now, he was previously the regional director for the province of BC’s Employment Standards Branch. Dave ran (and lost) during last year’s election for the Island Trust.
Dave was up at the Unist’oten Camp last year where he led the construction of the Bunk House. He also participated in a Gulf Islands based fundraiser last year, delivering food up to the camp.
Gabor Maté: Fights Harm, Funds Harm
Gabor Maté is a Hungarian born doctor who’s focussed his career studying how to treat addictions (szervusz Gabor!). Maté is one of Vancouver’s most visible advocates of “harm reduction”, a controversial strategy for enabling drug addicts that many claim is a core contributor to the horrifying status quo in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He spent many years working for the scandalous Portland Hotel Society, the group most famous for sending NDP MLA (and now candidate for MP) Jenny Kwan to luxury hotels in Vienna and at Disneyland.
Maté donated to the Unist’ot’en Camp’s campaign about three weeks ago. His entry on the fundraiser’s website included the message “Thanks to Dave and all others working on this project”.
Bruce Alexander: Never Give Up!
Bruce Alexander is an American psychologist who’s focussed his work on addictions. Radicalised during the Vietnam War, Alexander left the US and moved to Vancouver where he started working at Simon Fraser University- a school with no shortage of nutty professors who gravitate towards the province’s militant anarchist community.
Coincidentally (or not) Alexander is also connected to the Portland Hotel Society, having formerly served on the troubled charity’s board of directors. Jenny Kwan was introduced to the city’s drug problems by Alexander. He’s also listed as a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives- a dodgy charity that awarded a violence promoting anarchist as an activist hero.
Alexander’s claim to fame is an experiment he conducted on drug addictions called Rat Park. Traditional experiments were conducted on rats held in small isolated cages, this experiment shifted things around by building a paradise where rats lived together, had unlimited food, and numerous recreational opportunities.
The rats were given two sources of water- one with morphine, the other without. The results were quite interesting, even when adding lots of sugar, the rodents in Rat Park tended to avoid drinking from the bottle with morphine- but when naloxone (which counters the effect of morphine) was added, the rats would start drinking the mix.
Bruce Alexander recently donated $100 to the Unist’ot’en Camp’s fundraiser. His entry on the fundraiser’s website included the message “Never Give Up!”.
What Are A Couple Of Nice Guys Like This…
So the question now is, what are a couple of “nice” guys like Maté and Alexander doing giving money to a group of law breaking violence aficionados? The answer may come from their distaste for capitalism. Ironically, despite self-identifying as “anarchists” the Unist’ot’en campers are fighting for a socialist system. Maté and Alexander have both built themselves loyal followings blaming people’s addictions on the capitalist system.
Maté is a strange duck- despite the fact his family fled from the horrors of Hungary’s Soviet error government, he’s somehow become an unabashed Marxist. One of Maté’s more nutty prognoses is that Capitalism is the source of our society’s problems with addictions. It’s a bizarre conclusion for someone who came from the former Soviet Block, a region that had no shortage of addictions problems.
Alexander used his work on the Rat Park experiments as the basis for his book The Globalization of Addiction. In it he argues that if we can change society to match the lotusland he built for the rats then people will magically shed their addictions. There’s a problem though, as the Buddha says, life is suffering, the concept that we can turn the world into a paradise like Rat Park is naïve (at best).
Who Else Gave Money?
There’s probably no better example on the donor’s list of how funding Unist’ot’en isn’t the path to building the human version of Rat Park than Sakura Saunders. Like the people running the camp, Saunders has been closely tracked by law enforcement (on both sides of the border) for her revolutionary rhetoric and closeness to the thugs who smashed-up Toronto during the 2010 G20.
Saunders donated $50 to the camp, opting out on the opportunity to leave a comment
Some Very Naughty Boys…
One last commonality between Gabor Maté and Bruce Alexander is that both are on the advisory board for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. I’ll be writing more about MAPS and Maté in the near future (working on a potential documentary), it’s an interesting story where the later brought an alleged sex offender into a BC First Nation where they used an illegal psychedelic drug to conduct a dubious medical experiment.
It’s an interesting story that includes David Suzuki producing the most interesting (and dangerous) of documentaries using our tax dollars at the CBC. Other actors include TIDES Canada, the University of Victoria, and a couple of people connected to Hollyhock.
Here’s a chart giving a preview- hope you enjoy, you can find a larger version of the chart here: