Canada: 14 arrested at indigenous anti-pipeline protest camp as tensions rise

Mae Love
January 9, 2019

In Vancouver, two events have been planned, one at 11:30 a.m., with a meet-up, is happening on the 800-block of Smithe Street, and a march to Victory Square.

Edmonton's event is part of an global effort, with 54 other rallies are planned for Tuesday.

The event is one of about 25 peaceful protests going on today across the nation in support of Wet'suwet'en land defenders in northern British Columbia who are now facing imminent removal from their own land by the RCMP, so that TransCanada/Coastal GasLink can construct a pipeline.

"It has been a long, and sometimes hard, journey but we are proud of the relationships we've built, and the support of the communities and all 20 elected Indigenous bands along the route as well as the many hereditary chiefs who also support the project", he wrote.

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.

APTN witnessed a convoy of RCMP vehicles exit the road into Houston before a spokesperson for the chiefs provided a statement.

"In this government, you have a partner willing to figure out the path forward that is right for each of you, and eventually right for every Indigenous person in this country", Trudeau told the Indigenous leaders who had moved to the new venue with him. Coastal GasLink was most recently prevented from accessing the area on November 20, it said. "We are the land, the land is us".

When Trudeau finally spoke, nearly two hours behind schedule, he did not mention the protests or address the situation in B.C. Instead, he highlighted areas where he said progress had been made, such as planned child-welfare reforms, coming legislation on Indigenous languages.

"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.

"Do we want to violate the United Nations declaration on indigenous rights or do we want to uphold it?"

Canada: 14 arrested at indigenous anti-pipeline protest camp as tensions rise

Saganash, the federal NDP's reconciliation critic, says the justification used for the RCMP's intervention of a blockade in northern British Columbia is "pretty lame" in the era of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Demonstrators could be seen carrying signs with messages on them like "All nations unite with Wet'suwet'en" and "We stand with Unist'ot'en".

The moment RCMP came over the gates and started making arrests to enforce the Coastal GasLink injunction.

But Trudeau said the leadership exemplified by those gathered at the forum gave him confidence in what can be accomplished in the coming years. "They always talk about reconciliation", he went on.

Members of the RCMP's Aboriginal Police Liaison have also met with the Wet'suwet'en chiefs and indicated that specially trained tactical forces will be deployed to forcibly remove people from sovereign Wet'suwet'en territory.

Huson calls the court process "unjust", and claims the First Nation didn't have enough time to review the hundreds of pages of documents submitted by the Coastal GasLink.

"The RCMP respects and protects the right to peaceful demonstrations as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms", it said.

Speaking to NEWS 1130 following his visit to an exclusion zone set up by Mounties near the blockade, Nathan Cullen says he's spoken to protesters, the RCMP, and the company behind the LNG pipeline to ensure things remain calm. Support for those fighting against the pipeline has grown since the injunction.

"With the recent pipeline leak in Prince George and whatnot, we can not be certain that it's not going to happen up there", Alicia Williams, who rallied with her two young children, said.

By Monday, the RCMP was distancing itself from the statement about title, saying it was "inappropriate" for the RCMP to weigh in on discussions between governments and Indigenous communities.

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