Canadian Police Breach Blockade, 14 Arrests
Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on January 7 breached one of two blockades established by members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in British Columbia. They had been preventing representatives of Coastal GasLink (CGL) from gaining access to the pipeline right-of-way.
By early evening, 14 persons had been arrested at the blockade, RCMP said in a statement.
CGL is the pipeline being built by TransCanada to serve the LNG Canada project in Kitimat. About 190 km of the 670-km route is through Wet’suwet’en traditional territory, and some members of that First Nation – from the Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en clans – have manned two blockades, including one that has been in place since 2012.
An injunction ordering removal of the blockades was issued by the BC Supreme Court on December 14 and expanded on December 21. The court authorised the RCMP to take whatever action was necessary to enforce the terms of the injunction.
The Gidimt’en blockade, established about three weeks ago, was the target of the January 7 RCMP action. Similar enforcement at the Unist’ot’en blockade is expected soon.
“This is not an outcome we ever wanted,” CGL said in a statement posted to its website. “Instead we have always strived for opportunities to have an honest, open discussion about how to resolve this issue. It is unfortunate that the RCMP must take this step so that lawful access for this public bridge and road can be re-established.”
CGL has support from elected leaders and most hereditary chiefs from all First Nations along its route, including from the Wet’suwet’en. The Unist’ot’en, however, say their hereditary chiefs have never ceded territory, and they do not recognise the validity of the agreements signed by the Wet’suwet’en with CGL.