Update: 14 protesters arrested in Northern BC during anti-pipeline demonstration

Kareem Gouda / January 8th 2018

14 protesters arrested

A series of 14 protesters at the Gitdumt’en checkpoint / blockade clashed with RCMP and were arrested at the worksite for the future TransCanada Coastal GasLink pipeline. RCMP say that the arrests were for a series of offenses. These

include allegedly violating a court injunction. The video shows RCMP climbing over the barricade, tearing it down and begin arresting protesters.

Arrests were conducted around 6:45pm Monday and following the arrests the RCMP reported  a number of fires being lit along the roadway by unknown persons, and large trees felled across the roadway.

Jacquie Bowes of the Gitdumt’en clan was on scene amid the chaos and  she recounted how the day unfolded from her perspective:

At first there were only a half of dozen that were arrested the frontline at the gate were arrested. Two young men had their arms injured. The RCMP took action just after three attempted to crawl over the gate. The people at the gate pleaded and informed them that they’re not the ones that are trespassing and that it’s unceded territory. The only communication they had were the aboriginal liaison cops that said they were there to deliver the court injunction but yet no one received any papers, no one attempted to hand them the papers. The RCMP pushed their way through and initiated the arrests on the front line. Molly and the ladies that were singing at the mound. Four young men were arrested first, the elder for Gitdumt’en, Carmen,  was arrested by the bus where she stood back from the action, there were a few young men left when I left last night. There were trees and a bus blocking the crossing. The RCMP couldn’t get through and they had to remove that debris first before bringing their vehicles over to go to the Unisoten camp. – Jacquie Bowes,  Gitdumt’en clan

Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation are standing in opposition to the TransCanada Coastal GasLink pipeline. This liquid natural gas project was announced to begin construction back on Oct 2nd, 2018.  An injunction was filed in BC Supreme court on Dec 14th which sets out restrictions on anyone from interfering with the pipeline’s construction.

Most recently, at 9pm on Sunday Jan 6th, the RCMP have announced their plans to enforce the injunction which involves sending multiple vehicles and officers up the Morice West Forest Service Road where the Wet’suwet’en have a checkpoint blocking passage.

Delee Nikal of the Wet’suwet’en clan says that a large police convoy has already driven up to the checkpoint and more are on the way.

“Right now we have just had 23 police units and tactical units go towards the Gidimt’en checkpoint.” – Delee Nikal, Spokesperson for the Wet’suwet’en Nation

The Gidimt’en checkpoint is about forty kilometers up the road from where Nikal was at the time of our call. It sits between Kitimat and Houston.  According to the RCMP in a release Sunday,

“For the land in question, where the Unist’ot’en camp is currently located near Houston, BC, it is our understanding that there has been no declaration of Aboriginal title in the Courts of Canada.”

When asked about the legal status of the camp and the occupation of the work site Nikal says that it is not crown land and cannot be treated as such.

“We have every right to be there, I have my Gidimt’en brothers and sisters up there. For them to stop me is unconstitutional in every way, shape and form and a violation of UNDRIP article 10 and article 26.2”

-Delee Nikal, Gitdumden clan

Rolling up to the Camp

While on her way to work Monday, Jacquie Bowes, also a member of the Gidimt’en clan had seen multiple RCMP vehicles parked in Houston. Bowes documented them on the move via facebook live. The video shows multiple police and tactical vehicles that were on the move towards the camp.

Bowes says the she wants the world to see how much force is being gathered in order to enforce the injunction. Ultimately, she wants people to understand what they are going through before they start labelling them and taking their land.

“You’ve got to know the story before you start putting labels on it. We use these territories and they’re important. They give our children a sense of belonging and acceptance. For those facing addiction they get helped at the healing lodge. There’s a lot of history out here and the past is our future. We’re trying to face the intergenerational trauma that’s been happening to our people.” – Jacquie Bowes, member of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation

According to Bowes, Heriditary Chiefs of the Gidimt’en clan were allowed by RCMP to cross the road block as of noon Monday. However, this may change as work orders and the injunction force people off the land.

Jacquie Bowes captured this footage Monday of the RCMP convoy working its way to the pipeline work site that is located past the Gidimt’en checkpoint in the Wet’suwet’en Nation.