Monday, 21 January, 2019

Rallies planned for protesters arrested while blocking work on B.C. pipeline

Downtown pipeline protest draws small crowd Locals protest B.C. RCMP action
Ginger Lawrence | 09 January, 2019, 13:07

Officers broke through a blockade on Morice River Forest Service Road, southwest of Houston, on Monday afternoon to enforce a B.C. Supreme Court injunction order, arresting 14 people, said RCMP.

Speakers have also said they won't tolerate the pushing-through of the natural gas pipeline, that is supposed to go straight through the community on its way to the coast. "You either respect us or you don't, and there is no fine line.you can not rape the land, and then tell us that you're going to pass a bill to say that you love us and you respect us".

Marches were planned across the country on Tuesday to support members of the Gidimt'en clan who oppose the pipeline project. These protests have caused a complete standstill in the Toronto core as community members march with signs and chant in protest of the BC pipeline.

There were no physical confrontations but angry words and hand gestures flew back and forth as at least a dozen Calgary police officers used their bodies and bicycles to separate the groups.

The arrests drew strong criticism from leaders of the First Nation and protest camp representatives as well as social media users from across Canada and beyond.

"Unist'ot'en has been holding that responsibility all by themselves, so the (Gidimt'en) chief decided it was time for all of us to physically show our support".

Police watch over duelling protests in downtown Calgary on Tuesday.

"It is a national issue", Sinclair said.

Coastal GasLink says it has signed agreements with all First Nations along the route but demonstrators say Wet'suwet'en house chiefs, who are hereditary rather than elected, have not given consent.

But people who support the pipeline tend not to be as vocal as the protesters, he said.

"Building consensus under duress will make the resolution of the situation in northern British Columbia very hard", Perry Bellegarde said in a statement Tuesday.

"There are very real communities being affected by this - terrorized by this". "And I am confident that they can do this".

"It becomes kind of an unfortunate conflict: the age-old Indian Act and elected chiefs and council, versus an even older system of traditional governance", said Stephen O'Neill, a former Ontario Superior Court judge who retired from the bench in 2016 to work in Indigenous law at the firm, Nahwegabow Corbiere. It said protesters were expected to be taken to provincial court in Prince George. She said an elder arrested on Monday had already been released.

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

Wickham, who has fielded calls from India and the United Kingdom about the pipeline resistance, said it's been "surreal" to see the global response.

The march in Vancouver is part of a larger worldwide day of action organized in support of those at the Unist'ot'en camp.

The Mounties placed exclusion areas and road closures near the Morice River Bridge where the blockade was located that prevented Coastal GasLink from getting access to its pipeline right of way.

LNG Canada announced on October 2 that its joint venture participants had taken a positive investment decision to construct the Kitimat export facility.

Construction on the $6.2-billion pipeline, which is 670 kilometres long, is scheduled to begin this month.

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".

Wickham further states one Hereditary Chief from each of the five Wet'suwet'en nations was invited to come and speak with RCMP liaisons.

Those in attendance voiced their opposition to the events in B.C. and performed traditional Indigenous rituals such as smudging, a ceremony that involves the burning of sacred herbs.

Their message? "No pipelines on First Nations land".

"This is wrong and we have to stop it".

As for the use of its tactical and emergency response teams, the force said they were deployed in addition to other officers "as part of our measured and scalable approach to enforcing the court-ordered injunction".