Pipeline protesters delay Trudeau speech to First Nations

Pipeline protesters delay Trudeau speech to First Nations

Members of the RCMP will enforce a court injunction on Monday and remove checkpoints that are blocking access to a liquefied natural gas pipeline construction site in northern B.C.

The protest camp has been set up on Wet'suwet'en First Nation territory near Smithers for years.

Coastal GasLink, operated by TransCanada Corp., said it has negotiated agreements with all of the elected bands along a proposed 670-kilometre route created to bring gas to the B.C. coast for overseas shipping as part of a $40-billion LNG Canada project.

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.

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.

In photographs and video circulated Monday, Jan. 7, and Tuesday, Jan. 8, armed officers in tactical gear faced off with locals brandishing feathers as police advanced on a remote, snowy checkpoint set up to stop the construction of a natural gas pipeline that would run through the traditional territory of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation.

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The Wet'suwet'en land defenders are doing nothing wrong. They say such projects will jeopardize the area's natural resources and restrict access to their territory.

Canada "made a commitment to uphold the United Nations declaration" to not forcibly remove people from their land, Roberts said, but is now planning to break that commitment. It includes a camp and gate that obstructs the Morice West forest service road and the Morice River Bridge. Under 'Anuc niwh'it'en (Wet'suwet'en law) all five clans of the Wet'suwet'en have unanimously opposed all pipeline proposals. The defendants are also prohibited from threatening, intimidating or getting within 10 metres of anyone actively working on the project.

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The chief thanked those who showed up at rallies to ask Canada to demand that the RCMP cease enforcing the court order.

Despite what appeared to a be a subdued start to their interaction with demonstrators, the force said in a statement that night that more than a dozen people had been taken into custody, adding that officers felt confident the standoff could not be resolved without their involvement. Any move the Wet'suwet'en peoples by the RCMP, by the order of the Trudeau government, would directly violate UNDRIP. 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.

Cpl. Madonna Saunderson would not say how many RCMP officers were involved in the operation.

"Coastal GasLink has project agreements with all 20 elected Indigenous bands along the length of the project in British Columbia", the company said in the court document. One of the people arrested was Molly Wickham, spokeswoman for the Cas Yex house of the Gidimt'en clan. Wickham was one of the nine people arrested.

While members of another Wet'suwet'en house, the Unist'ot'en of the Gilseyhu clan, erected a camp and checkpoint in the area of the planned pipeline nearly seven years ago, Wickham said the Gidimt'en checkpoint is more recent.

"We recognize the right for people to engage in peaceful protest".

"We are now preparing for a protracted struggle", the protesters said in a statement before facing the RCMP.

Rallies are planned in 30 cities in Canada and the USA on Tuesday - including Vancouver, Victoria, Chilliwack, Lilooet, Nelson, Cortes Island and Prince George - in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en.

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