RCMP probe of attempted firebombing attack on Unist’ot’en camp hits dead-end

AFN National Chief Bellegarde calling for RCMP restraint

(Failed firebombing left charred trail leading to Unist’ot’en checkpoint sign)

Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
British Columbia RCMP investigators have come up empty after investigating a failed firebombing of the Unist’ot’en camp’s checkpoint.

A crude explosive device was detonated in October 2013 next to a sign leading the Unist’ot’en camp’s checkpoint on a forest service road leading to the routes of two natural gas pipelines in the province’s interior. The device was constructed with plastic bottles tied together with surveyor tape. Gasoline was used as the accelerant to set off a blast that failed to register any serious damage.

An RCMP spokesperson said Wednesday investigators had failed to get any solid leads during their investigation which had reached a dead-end.

“A very thorough investigation was conducted, but there was no information obtained that identified any suspects or provided enough information to support a report being forwarded to the Crown,” said Cpl. Dave Tyreman.

The RCMP, however, is in the midst of another investigation, this time of the Unist’ot’en camp itself after TransCanada filed a complaint last week. Camp representatives blocked pipeline workers with the company’s Coastal GasLink project from entering the Unist’ot’en can’s traditional territory, which is also on the pipeline’s route.

“The investigation remains active and ongoing and we will take the time necessary to conduct a thorough investigation and gather the facts around the complaint,” said Tyreman. “This includes speaking to all parties involved to get their information in order to validate or substantiate the complaint.”

The Unist’ot’en camp, which is anchored by the Unist’ot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation, has dug in over the past five years in an area along the routes for Chevron’s proposed 480 kilometre Pacific Trail Pipeline and TransCanada’s 670 km Coastal GasLink pipeline. Both pipelines are slated to carry natural gas from the province’s interior to a proposed LNG facility in Kitimat, B.C., on the coast.

The camp is also in the path of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

The RCMP met with representatives of the Unist’ot’en camp and their lawyer in Smithers, B.C., on Tuesday for four hours. Camp spokesperson Freda Huson said the RCMP continues to threaten arrests against camp occupants.

“It is still the same threats of arrests,” said Huson. “Nothing has changed, no movement on either end.”

Huson said the RCMP brought along their own lawyer to the meeting. She said there is some legal uncertainty around the actual status of the road where the camp has set up the checkpoint.

Tyreman confirmed the RCMP did bring their own legal counsel to the meeting, which also included a senior officer and two Aboriginal policing officers. Tyreman denied the RCMP threatened arrests during the meeting.

“We want to emphasize that we have no intention of taking down the camp set up by the Unist’ot’en, but we are focused on encouraging all parties to meet and we are available to facilitate or support those meetings moving forward,” said Tyreman.

Rumours swirled last week that the RCMP was planning a raid of the camp, but the federal force quickly doused those rumours.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said Wednesday the RCMP should back off. He said the matter is currently an internal one between the hereditary and band council leadership of Wet’suwet’en nation.

“We would hope the RCMP respect First Nation rights to protect the land water and that there is no heavy-handedness shown,” said Bellegarde.

Bellegarde said he was hoping a planned meeting between the regional B.C. leadership, four area First Nations and the Unist’ot’en clan could lead to some sort of resolution.

The Unist’ot’en camp sits roughly about 66 kilometres south of Houston, B.C., and about 1,000 km north of Vancouver.

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