The RCMP have established an exclusion zone or road block near the site of disputed pipeline construction on unceded Indigenous land in northern B.C., APTN News has learned.
“Yes, it is up,” Chief Na’moks (John Ridsdale) confirmed Monday of the police barricade on the Morice West Forest Service Road outside Houston, B.C.
“Just got information from one of my clan members, and there were media turned back as well.”
It’s the same way police blocked the road on Wet’suwet’en territory last January.
At that time RCMP kept clan members and news media out of the area as they enforced an interim court injunction giving Coastal GasLink Ltd. (CGL) access to the area.
The company is constructing a pipeline through northern B.C. to the west coast, where it will transport natural gas to foreign markets.
Na’moks is one of several Wet’suwe’en hereditary chiefs who oppose resource-related projects despite support for the work from elected chiefs and many band members along the route.
CGL has permission from the B.C. government and its supreme court to access the area to construct a right-of-way for the pipeline.
The RCMP now look to be enforcing an expanded injunction approved by a judge on Dec. 31, however, a spokesperson did not return messages confirming this to be the case.
CGL said it was unaware of a police barrier in the area.
Na’moks said hereditary chiefs met with the head of B.C. RCMP – Chief Supt. Jennifer Strachan – last week on Jan. 9 and asked her “to stand down.”
Several days earlier, the chiefs ordered CGL personnel to leave the area and the company complied.
Then the company publicized the discovery of downed trees and cans of accelerant it discovered near its worksite, which violated the court injunction.
The police said it had opened a criminal investigation.
Na’moks said members of the clan had cut the trees to protect themselves from a police incursion like the one that led to violence and 14 arrests at the site last January.
“We are here to protect our clean water and lands,” Na’moks said in a message to APTN Monday. “We have never ceded nor surrendered our jurisdiction and authorities.
“We inhabit our ancestral villages and with to protect our sacred sites for all future generations.”
There were several rallies of support for the Wet’suwet’en Nation across Canada last weekend.