Members of the Tiny House Warriors in British Columbia say they were victims of racism and excessive force by the RCMP.
Police, however, say they charged two activists after videos of an interaction were posted online.
“I would encourage you to review it as it provides some indication as to why we were called in to investigate,” said RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.
The charges were laid in connection to two separate incidents in the North Thompson River area of northern B.C.
That’s where Tiny House has been camped out – near Blue River since 2018 – in an effort to stop construction of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project they say is unwelcome on their unceded Secwepemc territory.
In snippets of video shared on various social media sites, Tiny House member Mayuk Manuel is seen confronting employees of a company connected to the pipeline expansion in Clearwater.
WATCH: Kanahus Manuel talks about her arrest
The Sept. 30 video is credited to her twin sister Kanahus Manuel in online posts.
“Oh, this guy, this white honky is your backup, huh?” a female voice is heard saying to a male and female worker near Clearwater.
“That rapist is your backup, huh?”
The male worker, who doesn’t respond, has a small camera attached to the top of his hard hat.
“You’re going to have so much bad karma from what you’re doing to our river,” Mayuk is filmed saying as she nears the worker.
“And we know where your kids go to school,” she adds while pointing a finger at him.
Following a second incident on Oct. 19, Kanahus alleges police officers broke her wrist during a violent arrest.
She has since posted photos of herself wearing a purple cast on her right arm.
She says police also denied her a phone call to her lawyer.
“They were up near Valemount, B.C., where they have two camps,” explained her lawyer Joe Killoran in a telephone interview with APTN.
“They were saying, ‘No consent, no Secwépemc consent, no treaty, this is our territory.’”
RCMP said Kanahus was “unco-operative during arrest.”
They say she was assessed by emergency personnel, taken to two hospitals, and “cleared for custody with no noted injuries.”
They said an in-custody injury would have triggered an automatic investigation by an outside agency, and that hasn’t happened.
The arrests were filmed by RCMP but they declined to provide the video to APTN.
“We did fully capture our actions on video and we are unable to release that video as it is in the investigative package that will disclosed as part of the judicial process,” O’Donaghey said in an email.
He noted Kanuhus, who was arrested alongside her brother-in-law Isha Jules, can file an official complaint.
Killoran said he drove to Clearwater where he was kept waiting several hours to see his client by police who cited a staffing shortage.
Killoran said when the officer finally called back, he was told they had Kanahus in an ambulance and were taking her to Kamloops hospital.
“It seems to me that the police obstructed or behaved in an evasive or obstructive way the entire time,” Killoran said, noting he never did see his client.
“I can’t overstate how unusual it is for somebody to be detained for so long… considering the gravity of their charges and their (lack of) record.”
He speculated police held onto his clients, who were arrested on a Saturday, “so they can stay in cells until Monday.”
WATCH: Video posted on social media by Kanahus Manuel
In other video posted online from the Sept. 30 incident, Mayuk points to a young woman and identifies her as an Indigenous employee “that are being hired violating our human rights, as well.”
The woman holds a clipboard in front of her face so as not to be seen on camera.
Mayuk also says, “Journalist, get out of my face” although it is unclear who she is speaking to.
At one point the male employee – citing “personal safety” – moves in to direct the unidentified camera operator away from filming the female employee’s face, which upsets Mayuk.
“Our people – the safety of the Secwepemc Nation – is at hand,” she says loudly.
“Your hands have blood on them!”
At this point, the male employee is seen filming using his own video camera. He is standing in front of the female employee.
“You’re using that piss-poor Indian woman that needs money,” Mayuk adds as she backs away from the scene.
The Tiny House Warriors have established a village in Blue River, B.C. (APTN file).
RCMP say the incident remains under investigation and more charges are possible.
They deny they used excessive force and injured Kanahus.
“We are ready to provide what we have to the courts to ensure a full accounting of our actions, which don’t align to the allegations,” O’Donaghey said.
Kanahus and Jules were released on bail on Oct. 21 after appearing in Kamloops court with various conditions, their lawyer said.
“What’s sort of been apparent to me throughout is the way normal activities undertaken by Indigenous woman are painted as terrifying,” added Killoran of the way police treated his clients.
“This police officer was acting as though they were laying siege.”
Killoran also alleged police believe Kanahus was “faking” her injury.
The company declined to comment as the matter is before the courts.