Economy

BC Indigenous group anticipating RCMP action at anti LNG pipeline camp

BC Indigenous group anticipating RCMP action at anti LNG pipeline camp

Hundreds of people wound their way through the streets of downtown Vancouver in support of a group from a B.C. First Nation, west of Smithers, fighting a pipeline project on their traditional territory.

TransCanada subsidiary Coastal GasLink obtained an injunction ordering removal of obstructions in area as preliminary work gets underway on a pipeline carrying natural gas from northeastern B.C.to Kitimat.

Video posted to Facebook shows RCMP officers climbing over a barricade and scuffling with demonstrators, all in the name of enforcing an injunction allowing access to Coastal GasLink work crews.

On Dec. 14, the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs issued a statement saying they were deeply concerned by the National Energy Board's decision denying their request to participate in a jurisdictional challenge to the permits issued to TransCanada's Coastal GasLink pipeline project, which would cross Wet'suwet'en territories.

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.

In an amended injunction order filed Friday, a B.C. Supreme Court justice said the defendants, which include anyone "occupying, obstructing, blocking, physically impeding or delaying access" in the area, have until January 31 to file a response to Coastal GasLink's injunction application.

Halifax residents hold up signs of support for the Wet\'suwet\'en First Nation in British Columbia, while chanting on the steps of the Halifax Regional Police headquarters on Tues.

"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. It includes a camp and gate that obstructs the Morice West forest service road and the Morice River Bridge.

Shelagh Bell-Irving attended the protest in support of the First Nation blockade. They say such projects will jeopardize the area's natural resources and restrict access to their territory. They're also prohibited from threatening, intimidating or getting within 10 metres of anyone actively working on the project.

In the RCMP raid that took place, 14 were arrested and RCMP officers began cutting down the barbed wire and anything else that blocked their path.

Pipeline supporters shout behind a police line in downtown Calgary on Tuesday.
Darren Makowichuk  Postmedia
Pipeline supporters shout behind a police line in downtown Calgary on Tuesday. Darren Makowichuk Postmedia

Earlier on Monday, RCMP had announced it planned to enforce the injunction order.

The federal NDP's reconciliation critic says the justification used for the RCMP's intervention is "pretty lame" in an era of supposed reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous resistance fighters and their allies are anxious that an RCMP raid is imminent, as police have gathered in Smithers, B.C., and Houston, B.C., the two closest towns to the Gidimt'en checkpoint.

Coastal GasLink said it has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nations along the pipeline route, including the Wet'suwet'en.

Wickham was in Prince George where she said 13 people arrested for violating the court order, including her sister Molly Wickham, were scheduled to appear in court.

"We are proud of the people who were arrested because they did the right thing".

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.

Rallies were held in more than 50 communities across Canada and in a number of other global cities.

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

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