Quantcast

14 Indigenous Activists Arrested in Canadian Pipeline Standoff

Jerome Charaoui (Charaj) / Free Art License

A standoff between indigenous activists and TransCanada over a proposed natural gas pipeline in British Columbia (BC) came to a head Monday as Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stormed a checkpoint set up by protesters to block construction, arresting 14, The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) National News reported Tuesday.


The RCMP were enforcing a court injunction issued Dec. 14, 2018 saying that Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada, could access unceded Wetsuwet'en territory in order to build a pipeline. The company says it has approval from the elected representatives of all 20 First Nation groups along the pipeline route, but the hereditary Wetsuwet'en leaders say that they are the ones who control access to the land, and they do not want any fossil fuel development to take place on it.

"The RCMP's ultimatum, to allow TransCanada access to unceded Wet'suwet'en territory or face police invasion, is an act of war. Canada is now attempting to do what it has always done—criminalize and use violence against indigenous people so that their unceded homelands can be exploited for profit," the main protest camp said in a statement reported by The Guardian.

The main camp, the Unist'ot'en camp, was established almost ten years ago on the Morice River to prevent three different pipeline projects from passing through the area, APTN reported. A separate Gidimt'en checkpoint, which the police rushed on Monday, was set up within days of the court injunction, according to The Guardian. The Unist'ot'en and Gitimd'en are two of the five clans that make up the Wet'suwet'en.

The Gitimd'en checkpoint was toppled Monday, and it is not known when police will move on the Unist'ot'en camp, APTN said. Police first arrived 9 a.m. on Monday and set up a barrier and an "exclusion zone" blocking public and media access.

APTN shared the experience of 72-year-old protester Carmen NIkal:

"They (police) spent some time trying to get the barricade down and I stepped away… and there were a couple of the protestors who had secured themselves to the barricade inside, I'm not exactly sure how the rest of us were standing and singing," she said in an interview on Facebook.

"The only thing I could do was try to block the path between the bus and the bridge. I'm not a big person but I was big enough to stand and they had asked me to move and I said 'No I'm not moving' and he said, 'Well, we can arrest you,'" she said.

"And I'm proud to have been arrested."

Gidimt'en Clan spokesperson Molly Wickham was also among those arrested. Four hereditary chiefs attempted to negotiate with the company outside the checkpoint, but the company would not compromise.

"We may have lost this battle but not the war," said hereditary Gidimt'en Chief Madeek told APTN.

The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) issued a statement ahead of Monday's police action criticizing the RCMP's intention to enforce the injunction.

"We strongly condemn the RCMP's use of intimidation, harassment, and ongoing threats of forceful intervention and removal of the Wet'suwet'en land defenders from Wet'suwet'en unceded territory," UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said.

The $4.6 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline would carry natural gas 670 kilometers (approximately 416 miles) from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, on the BC coast, The Guardian reported.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

In tea, food, or just on your windowsill, embrace the fragrance and fantastic healing potential of herbs.

Read More Show Less

By Ana Santos Rutschman

The world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug Administration. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned and will step down in early April. His temporary replacement is Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
MartinPrescott / iStock / Getty Images

On Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first 20 chemicals it plans to prioritize as "high priority" for assessment under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Given the EPA's record of malfeasance on chemicals policy over the past two years, it is clear that these are chemicals that EPA is prioritizing to ensure that they are not properly evaluated or regulated.

Read More Show Less
Strawberries top the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of U.S. produce most contaminated with pesticides. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP / Getty Images

Which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are most contaminated with pesticides? That's the question that the Environmental Working Group answers every year with its "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides after being washed or peeled.

Read More Show Less
A drilling rig in a Wyoming natural gas field. William Campbell / Corbis via Getty Images

A U.S. federal judge temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on 300,000 acres of federal leases in Wyoming Tuesday, arguing that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "did not sufficiently consider climate change" when auctioning off the land, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Mizina / iStock / Getty Images

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Oats are widely regarded as one of the healthiest grains you can eat, as they're packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Read More Show Less
JPMorgan Chase building in New York City. Ben Sutherland / CC BY 2.0

By Sharon Kelly

A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability speaking on conflict of interest demand of the People's Demands at a defining action launching the Demands at COP24. Corporate Accountability

By Patti Lynn

2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."

Read More Show Less