RCMP vehicles pictured at the 27-kilometre mark of Morice West Forest Service Road, near Houston, B.C., in January 2020. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

VIDEO: Six arrested as RCMP enforce injunction at Wet’suwet’en anti-pipeline camps

Move comes one day after talks between the Wet’suwet’en and the government ended without solution

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is condemning the actions of RCMP after at least six people were arrested at a Coastal GasLink protest camp in northern B.C.

On Thursday, RCMP began enforcing an injunction order against Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and supporters blocking the liquefied natural gas project that goes through their traditional territory.

“We are in absolute outrage and a state of painful anguish as we witness the Wet’suwet’en people having their title and rights brutally trampled on and their right to self-determination denied,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said.

“Indigenous rights are human rights and they cannot be ignored or sidestepped for any reason in the world, and certainly not for an economic interest. We call on the RCMP to immediately stand down, and we call on the Crown to immediately take responsibility for ending this violence.”

The RCMP released a statement late Thursday afternoon, saying officers had moved into the camps early that morning to set up an exclusion zone where police and Coastal GasLink employees can work, and asked anyone still there to leave.

Now, no one will be allowed through the checkpoint set up on Jan. 13, with the exception of police officers, as well as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and elected council members so long as arrangements are made ahead of time with RCMP.

Protesters at the Unist’ot’en protest camp said more than a dozen officers were on site there, taking down tents, with 36 vehicles involving in the police action, including a bulldozer and an ambulance.

Six people refused to leave the exclusion area and were arrested, police said. One person was also arrested for resisting arrest. Several people, including journalists, were “transferred out for safety reasons,” police said.

“Due to the number of police officers deployed, our presence may appear imposing,” the statement continued. “In reality, a minimal amount of force was required to support the arrests or removal of individuals from within the exclusion zone.”

One man “dressed in a costume” tried to flee and climb up a tree, police said, but was later taken into custody.

A woman locked herself in a vehicle and took off her clothes, police said. “A window was broken in order to gain access to that vehicle,” police said. She was not hurt and was taken into custody, police said.

The six people arrested were taken to the Houston RCMP detachment and are expected to be released with court dates.

Anyone can go back to the 27-kilometre checkpoint, which has become a designated protest and media site, the RCMP said, but they should expect to be stopped at any point because of heavy machinery coming in, harsh weather and poor road conditions.

“There will continue to be a marked increase in police resources in the Houston area, and patrols will be conducted on the ground as well as from the air to monitor the situation beyond the blockade of fallen trees and incendiary materials,” Mounties added.

The RCMP’s move to enforce the court order comes one day after talks between the hereditary chiefs and the province failed to produce a solution, as well as one day after police outlined their enforcement plan to the media, pledging to use the least amount of force reasonable to arrest a protester.

ALSO READ: RCMP outline plan for ‘peaceful’ arrests as they prepare to enforce pipeline injunction

In a statement posted to the Coastal GasLink website, company president David Pfeiffer called the breakdown of talks “disappointing” but that workers will resume constructing the pipeline by first remove the obstacles along the route in a safe and environmentally responsible way.

“Over the past month and over many years, we’ve reached out to the hereditary chiefs, over and over, but to no avail,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s truly unfortunate that we were unable to find a path forward that allowed for the construction of Coastal GasLink with the support of all.”

Also Thursday afternoon, several hundred supporters marched in solidarity with the pipeline opponents, blocking access at the Port of Vancouver and causing traffic delays. A number of youth protested outside the B.C. Legislature.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkPipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kootenay SPCA hopes you’ll have a heart for Cupid

Cat who tangled with a bobcat seeking a permanent home

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

New ‘hub’ model takes regional approach to doctor recruitment in West Kootenay

Kootenay-Boundary a provincial leader in effectively attracting doctors to work here

Missing Slocan City man found dead

Douglas Morrison went missing in mid-January

Nelson ArtWalk seeking submissions

You have until April 17 to submit your application

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read