RCMP arrest 14 people in BC over anti-LNG pipeline protest

Lloyd Doyle
January 8, 2019

The injunction was granted last month to prevent protesters from blocking access to TransCanada's planned Coastal GasLink project, a 670-kilometre pipeline that would connect to LNG Canada's $40 billion natural gas operation in Kitimat.

The event is one of about 25 peaceful protests going on today across the nation in support of Wet'suwet'en land defenders in northern British Columbia who are now facing imminent removal from their own land by the RCMP, so that TransCanada/Coastal GasLink can construct a pipeline.

While members of another Wet'suwet'en house, the Unist'ot'en of the Gilseyhu clan, erected a camp and checkpoint in the area of the planned pipeline nearly seven years ago, Wickham said the Gidimt'en checkpoint is more recent. It includes a camp and gate that obstructs the Morice West forest service road and the Morice River Bridge.

In a news release issued on Sunday, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said all five Wet'suwet'en clans oppose the construction of oil and gas pipelines in their territory. They say such projects will jeopardize the area's natural resources and restrict access to their territory.

According to an RCMP statement, officers first began talking to representatives of the camp set up on Wet'suwet'en First Nation land about removing a road block they have built along the Morice West Service Road in the town of Houston.

In a statement, the RCMP said a meeting between Hereditary Chiefs and CGL was facilitated in the hopes of resolving the matter without police involvement. They're also prohibited from threatening, intimidating or getting within 10 metres of anyone actively working on the project.

In his discussions with the RCMP, Cullen says he's asked that officers keep the peace, all while maintaining respect for the First Nations. "During the arrests, the RCMP observed a number of fires being lit along the roadway by unknown persons, and large trees felled across the roadway".

"Yesterday, members of the RCMP's Aboriginal Police Liaison met with Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs and indicated that specially trained tactical forces will be deployed to forcibly remove Wet'suwet'en people from sovereign Wet'suwet'en territory", the statement said.

Jennifer Wickham, a spokeswoman for the Gidimt'en checkpoint, on Sunday said supporters had seen police staff and vehicles in Houston and Smithers.

Indigenous demonstrators are expecting RCMP action over the injunction filed against them, and rally organizers said on Facebook the protesters "are facing an imminent raid by the RCMP along with Uni'stot'en camp".

"We are proud of the people who were arrested because they did the right thing".

Terry Cunha, a spokesman for TransCanada, said the enforcement of the order was "taken as a last resort and a necessary action after years of attempting to engage the camp" to find a solution.

Huson calls the court process "unjust", and claims the First Nation didn't have enough time to review the hundreds of pages of documents submitted by the Coastal GasLink. The company has engaged with all First Nations groups along the project, both hereditary and elected, and also has some hereditary support, said Cunha.

After the arrests, Mounties reiterated that their focus remains on the safety of all those involved in the situation, but said "the RCMP is given discretion to decide how and when to enforce the order".

"The primary concerns of the police are public safety, police officer safety, and preservation of the right to peaceful, lawful and safe protest, within the terms set by the Supreme Court in the injunction".

Rallies are planned in 30 cities Tuesday - including Vancouver, Victoria, Chilliwack, Lillooet, Nelson, Cortes Island and Prince George - in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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