Edmonton rally to support B.C. First Nation's anti-pipeline checkpoint

Daniel Fowler
January 9, 2019

In the wake of the RCMP's arrest of 14 people from a blockade to a forest service road in northern British Columbia that is preventing access to a pipeline project, a solidarity demonstration is being held in Greater Sudbury today.

Members of the Gidimt'en clan of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation had set up a camp and a checkpoint in the area, southwest of Houston, which they said was to control access.

For guiding principals on how to support actions, and a fact sheet on the Gidimt'en Access Point, visit the Wet'suwet'en Access Point page on Facebook. It said protesters were expected to be taken to provincial court in Prince George. The Unist'ot'en are one of the clans in the Wet'suwet'en nation, along with the Gidimt'en.

The first, which has been in place for nearly a decade, was set up by the Unist'ot'en, a house group of the Gilseyhu clan.

Officers are now speaking at the Morice West Forest Service Road bridge's fortified checkpoint created by the protesters.

Those 14 that were arrested were taken into police stations on Monday morning for violating the injunction order that was presented to them. The protests by Wet'suwet'en nation chiefs and members raise another challenge for workers, too.

The B.C. Supreme Court granted the injunction last month to Trans Mountain to build a Coastal GasLink LNG line through the Wet'suwe'ten territory.

A crowd of close to a hundred also gathered in uptown Waterloo Tuesday night, to show their support for the Wet'suwet'en First Nation.

"Forces marching toward gate on Gitumt'en, they are starting to breach, they are armed", said the protesters' Twitter account.

Police were enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction granted to TransCanada Corp. subsidiary Coastal GasLink. The defendants are also prohibited from threatening, intimidating or getting within 10 metres of anyone actively working on the project.

Pipeline supporters shout behind a police line in downtown Calgary on Tuesday.
Darren Makowichuk  Postmedia
Pipeline supporters shout behind a police line in downtown Calgary on Tuesday. Darren Makowichuk Postmedia

RCMP said in a written statement on Monday that police "facilitated a meeting between hereditary chiefs and (Coastal GasLink) in the hopes that this could be resolved without police involvement", but "it was determined that the matter could not be resolved".

One man at the North Bay protest told CTV Northern Ontario demonstrators want "peace and dialogue" and want politicians to demand that the RCMP "not move in and forcibly remove sovereign people from their own land".

According to an RCMP release Monday evening, police "observed a number of fires being lit along the roadway by unknown persons, and large trees felled across the roadway", after the arrests.

The federal NDP's reconciliation critic says the justification used for the RCMP's intervention is "pretty lame" in an era of supposed reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

The RCMP's enforcement of the injunction has been met with condemnation from Indigenous leaders like Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, but in a statement, the Mounties argue they're an impartial player in this conflict.

Indigenous resistance fighters and their allies are anxious that an RCMP raid is imminent, as police have gathered in Smithers, B.C., and Houston, B.C., the two closest towns to the Gidimt'en checkpoint.

Freda Huson, who is among those at the the Unist'ot'en camp on the Wet'suwe'ten First Nation, says protesters there have spent the last several days preparing for the arrival of RCMP officers. Wickham was one of the nine people arrested.

TransCanada has said it is not asking for the camp at the bridge to be dismantled, only for access to its pipeline right of way.

And although elected First Nations officials have signed deals with TransCanada, hereditary chiefs of the area have voiced opposition to the pipeline project.

"We did expect some to show up but the forces that they used, the fantastic numbers that they used, the tactics that they used, were actually something we did not expect as peaceful people".

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Marion County Public Health Department is requesting that hospitals in Marion County begin temporary restrictions for visitors. People with symptoms should stay at home and children should not attend school if showing signs of flu, he said.

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