There was a quietness up the Morice West Forest Service Road on Tuesday.
There was no drumming, singing or supporters to be found – even at the RCMP checkpoint. Due to arrests, all the camps were empty except the few that remain in Unist’ot’en Healing camp.
It has been nearly a week since RCMP announced they would enforce a B.C. Supreme Court injunction that would pave the way for Coastal Gaslink to continue construction on its pipeline.
By this posting, 28 Wet’suwet’en members or supporters have been arrested at various camps along the road outside of Houston, B.C.
(A snowmobile sits with gas cans and van outside the gates at the camp at the 44 km marker on the Morice West Forest Service Road. Photo: Lee Wilson/APTN)
In a Facebook Live video, Gidimt’en spokesperson Molly Wickham talked about the arrests.
“They are using this injunction law forcibly removing Wet’suwet’en people from their territories and to exclude Wet’suwet’en people from their territories,” said Wickham inside the courthouse hallway in Smithers B.C.
On Monday morning, RCMP officers made it to Unist’ot’en Healing camp located 66 km up the service road.
They removed barricades and arrested seven supporters for breaching the injunction including Unist’ot’en spokesperson Freda Huson.
She was released later in the evening.
Journalists have faced challenges covering the events as they unfolded due to the RCMP exclusion zone that grew larger as the operation continued.
(Heavy machinery removes sign post arrest outside Unist’ot’en Healing Village 66 km Morice West Service Road. Photo: Lee Wilson/APTN)
Early Monday, some journalists joined the convoy of RCMP and industry vehicles but had to keep their distance.
On Tuesday, APTN News was granted access with a police escort to document the aftermath of the arrests on the territory.
Coastal Gaslink announced they would restart construction on the 670 km natural gas pipeline that will carry fracked natural gas from Dawson Creek in northeastern B.C., to Kitimat on the coast where it will be processed and shipped to markets in Asia. The pipeline will cross through Wet’suwet’en territory.
They also stated that Wet’suwet’en community members would be heavily involved in upcoming construction programs. They released the following statement on Tuesday.
“We are extremely disappointed enforcement was required to re-open the Morice River Forest Service Road but will redouble efforts to engage with the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en and with the Unist’ot’en in search of a peaceful, long term resolution that benefits the Wet’suwet’en people.
After Wickham’s call to action last week, national solidarity protests in support of Wet’suwet’en have been going on across Canada. This pipeline dispute in British Columbia is raising many questions about Aboriginal Title, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and human rights.
Wickham stressed the importance of community being there to show solidarity for those arrested this week.
“We need to be here to support them, and we need to make sure that we are watching everything that is happening to our relatives, to our people on the territories.”