RCMP continue operations in B.C. over pipeline, set up new checkpoint

The RCMP continued its move into Wet’suwet’en territory to enforce an injunction allowing Coastal Gaslink to build a pipeline and set up a new checkpoint to keep media and locals out.

Five hereditary chiefs of the nation oppose the portion of the pipeline they say runs through their territory and refuse to leave the area where the company says it needs access to.

So far, 21 people have been arrested after enforcement of a dec. 31 injunction began.

Supporters are gathering around the new checkpoint outside the 27 km on the Morice West Forest Service Rd., outside of Houston.

Police started operations on Feb. 6 and arrested six supporters who were arrested in violation of the injunction at the 39 km camp on the service road.

They were later released without charge.

“We were taken into custody, illegally by the RCMP and we were released after twelve hours of attempted coercion into us signing conditions that we wouldn’t be allowed back here,” said Sabina Dennis who was one of four of the arrested who spoke to APTN News.

A woman who identified herself as only Shirley, says the scene was chaotic – with  an officer yelling information about  the injunction.

She says she watched her friends arrested before RCMP broke the window of the truck she was in and arrested her as well.

“They really just kind of bombarded in,” she said. “They swarmed in, and there was no options for negotiation. They came in, and I was quite lucky I hopped in the truck to try to create a safe space.

“Instantly seeing them pushing people, grabbing people in a rough way.”

The next day police said the Lamprey Creek bridge, located before the Gidimt’em camp, had its support beams cut and bolts loosened.

It was deemed unsafe for vehicle and foot traffic.

By Saturday the bridge was repaired and police said an investigation is ongoing.

Over the weekend the checkpoint that was at the 27 km marker was moved down the forest service road because there had been two occasions supporters had blocked access to the road.

Eleven supporters were arrested there for violating the injunction and transported to the houston detachment

Then, with almost no notice, the rcmp announced that media would be allowed through at 6 a.m. Monday with a police escort to Unist’ot’en healing camp.

Media who couldn’t make it were not allowed in later in the day.

Video Journalist / Kitimat Village, B.C.

Lee is a video journalist with APTN News, who shoots, reports and edits stories out of northern British Columbia. As a member of the Haisla Nation, Lee is proud to call Kitimat Village home again after living on Vancouver Island for 18 years. He has a passion for storytelling and looks forward to sharing stories through the lens of First Nations people.