(TGP) – The RCMP on Monday enforced an injunction to remove Wet’suwet’en First Nation clans defending two checkpoints blocking the construction of a pipeline in northern British Columbia.
Military forces were present with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the Gidumt’en checkpoint where police burst past with “brutal force”, arresting spokeswoman Molly Wickham and 13 others, the Unist’ot’en clan and authorities said.
The federal police cut some Internet and cellphone service to at least the Gidumt’en checkpoint there was only text updates coming from the barricade for some time, Indigenous outlet Sub Media told The Guelph Post.
Negotiations between four hereditary chiefs who represented the clans of Wet’suwet’en and the TransCanada-supported Coastal GasLink fell through, Chief Namoks said before the sun went down on Monday.
The RCMP earlier on Monday said they planned to enforce an injunction and remove Indigenous land defenders from the Gidimt’en and Unistoten fortified checkpoints blocking access for pipeline construction in northern British Columbia.
Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have halted company workers from passing their checkpoints into “unceded territory”, saying that they need consent from hereditary chiefs, who the RCMP offered to meet with.
At this point, the federal police are waiting on Coastal GasLink, who own the pipeline, on whether the company will enforce the injunction to remove the group at from their checkpoints. They are currently blocking road access to the barriers from certain directions.
B.C.’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police released a morning statement saying that exclusion zones and road closures would be set up for “police and public safety reasons”.
“We are very hopeful that there will not be violence or disorder as we enforce the court order,” the federal police said in the press release, adding that “the safety of the public and our officers is paramount”.
The RCMP Aboriginal Liaison Unit’s interacted for the first time Monday with the protestors at the Gidumt’en access point just before 11 a.m. local time, giving an ultimatum that only the chiefs could pass the exclusionary zone to meet with officials.
The protests are taking place over the Coastal GasLink Pipeline that will take natural gas from near Dawson Creek in B.C.’s north to the coast where a processing LNG Canada facility is to be built.
Those that have consent are allowed to pass through what Coastal GasLink has called “blockades”, the group who set up the checkpoints have said, according to one of the leaders.
The RCMP issued an injunction last month ordering that those blocking the small forestry road needed by CoastalGas workers to stop putting up barriers and allow the company through.
Local media reported that TransCanada has already signed agreements with all Indigenous nations on the pipeline route, but the hereditary chiefs of the five Wet’suwet’en First Nation clans say the deal does not apply to traditional territories.
Video from the scene shows a wooden barricade with barbed wire, while those part of the Indigenous-led Gidimt’en group huddle for warmth but stand defiant in the face of the RCMP.
Protests at TransCanada
There were several protests on Monday against the actions being taken by the RCMP, CoastalGas and TransCanada across the country, including at the TransCanada company office in Toronto in support of the Wet’suwet’en.
There was a pipeline protest in downtown North Bay where some 20 people gathered in support of the Indigenous land defenders, part of some 25 peaceful protests taking place in Canada, reported Bay Today.
There are some 20 protests and gathering taking place on Tuesday across southern Ontario, Canada and even a few internationally, and there is a solidarity rally being hosted at the University of Guelph.
The Guelph Post is tracking developments through local social media and reports from on-scene local reporters. With permission: First image from Sawyer Bogdan of My Bukley Lakes Now; Second image from Rachel Small.