January 20, 2019

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

08 January 2019, 06:39 | Hattie Nash

RCMP to break up northern B.C. First Nation's pipeline checkpoints Monday

Locals protest B.C. RCMP action

RCMP say they arrested 14 people from a blockade to a forest service road in northern British Columbia that is preventing access to a pipeline project.

The second checkpoint was put in place three weeks ago by the Gidimt'en clan, and blocked the Morice River forest service road.

The company said there's no reason for demonstrators to be removed in a camp at the site, but TransCanada needs access to the building area for its planned Coastal GasLink pipeline.

"When it was determined that the matter could not be resolved, at 3 p.m. the RCMP proceeded to enter the blockade in order to facilitate open access to the service road", the force said.

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".

They allege officers saw a number of fires being lit along the roadway.

According to a statement by Wet'suwet'en Chief Namoks streamed on Facebook Live Monday night, at least some of those arrested were being transported to Prince George to appear in court.

It says reports of military being at the police enforcement are also "incorrect".

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The chief added that those taken into custody have the First Nation's continued support. Wickham was one of the nine people arrested.

The UBCIC is calling "upon the Canadian Justice system to uphold the human rights and dignity of Indigenous peoples". As First Nations people, often our rights and our title are ignored in favour of industry or government agendas.

Earlier in the day, the RCMP had expressed hopes for a peaceful resolution.

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.

After much anticipation this morning (Monday), several RCMP officers have met with campers near Houston.

Speaking to NEWS 1130 following his visit to an exclusion zone set up by Mounties near the blockade, Nathan Cullen says he's spoken to protesters, the RCMP, and the company behind the LNG pipeline to ensure things remain calm.

All 20 elected Indigenous bands along Coastal GasLink's route have signed project agreements with TransCanada, but a group backed by key Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs remains opposed.

Roberts said the North Bay protest is "honouring those who came before us", and returns the support communities across the country showed when North Bay protesters fought against TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline project.

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When community members began digging in, Mounties started amassing nearby. They described a potential RCMP intervention as an "act of war" that would fly in the face of the federal government's stated commitment to Truth and Reconciliation.

The RCMP statement on Sunday also referred to the 1997 court case, saying "it is our understanding that there has been no declaration of aboriginal title" to the area where the Unist'ot'en camp is now located.

Temporary exclusion zones and road closures will be established in the area.

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

While Phillip appreciates the situation is a hard one to navigate, he has stressed that "force is not the solution". "It'll drive the nail in deeper".

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

Other rallies are happening throughout Canada, along with two in Seattle and other demonstrations in San Francisco and Flagstaff, AZ.

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