The Wet’suwet’en First Nation was unknown by many until earlier this year. However, when RCMP showed up in the small town of Houston, B.C. the world began to take notice.
RCMP went to Wet’suwet’en territory to uphold a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to remove a barrier that was blocking a service road that would be used for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project. The pipeline would bring liquefied natural gas from near Dawson Creek to a refining facility in the coastal town of Kitimat.
As attention drew towards the conflict, videos surfaced of RCMP, in accordance with the B.C. Supreme Court ruling, arresting 14 people at a blockade located on an access road essential to construction of the pipeline.
This video pushed the story into the international spotlight. Still, much of the coverage was focused on the RCMP’s enforcement of the injunction, and the subsequent protests following the arrests.
However, the story goes back to at least 2012 when TransCanada Corp. was approved for the natural gas pipeline. Later that year, the five clans of the Wet’suwet’en put up the blockade, which the RCMP would take down six years later.
We spoke with people from the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and reached out to local experts to give context to a conflict in need of unpacking.
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