Why having a journalist on the ground at Unist’ot’en matters

Ricochet aims to invest $5,000 of crowdfunded money in covering the standoff
Jerome Turner
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This week, the RCMP set up a roadblock on the road leading to the Unist'ot'en camp in northern B.C., which is maintained by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

A confrontation appears imminent.

Thanks to the Guardian, we know that RCMP officers who participated in a similar raid last year had authorization to use lethal force.

But if the RCMP moves in this time, we may not know about it.

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That’s because the costs of getting to this remote area are high. Media outlets don't have a budget to send journalists up there for days, waiting to see what happens. As a result, there’s a real risk there may be few or no journalists around if something does happen.

Because having a journalist up there is so important, we took a leap of faith this week. Thanks to support from an anonymous individual donor and Greenpeace Canada we were able to put journalist Jerome Turner on a plane yesterday morning.

Jerome is a freelance photojournalist and reporter, and a member of the Gitxsan Nation, whose territory is adjacent to that of the Wet’suwet’en. He knows the region and all the major players.

He’s already made it past the RCMP checkpoint and been to the first camp at the 39-kilometre mark. In the coming days he’ll be making the trip in to visit the Gidimt’en and Unist’ot’en camps located at the 44- and 66-kilometre marks on Morice Forest Service Road.

You can read his first report, and he’ll be filing new reports in the next several days, as well as sending back video that we’ll edit into short reports.

He’s equipped with a rented satellite phone to maintain communication when out of cell range, a rented truck and a budget for food and accommodations. He’ll also be paid fairly for his work.

We expect to spend upwards of $5,000 on this reporting project, but we can’t do that without your help. To keep Jerome funded and working we need to raise roughly another $2,000 this weekend.

All donations and new memberships on our website this week will go to support Jerome’s reporting. The buttons to donate and join are right at the top of this page and every page on our site.

If we raise more than $2,000, the surplus will be used to fund further reporting on this story, so please become a member, donate above, and help us provide the in-depth coverage of this story that’s missing from so many of our national media outlets.

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