Eli Ridder | Report
The RCMP are currently enforcing an injunction to remove Wet’suwet’en First Nation clans defending two checkpoints blocking the construction of a pipeline in northern British Columbia.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have breached at least one of the checkpoints and are carrying firearms. There are unconfirmed reports that Canadian military forces are present at the Unist’ot’en camp.
The Mounties cut Internet service to the camp and so there are only text updates coming from the camp currently, Indigenous outlet Sub Media told The Guelph Post.
Reporters with APTN, CBC News and others stationed at either one of the two checkpoints–Gidumt’en and Unist’ot’en–have largely been silent on Twitter since reports of the breach came through.
The hereditary chiefs who represented the clans of Wet’suwet’en in negotiations with Coastal GasLink on near Gidimt’en checkpoints failed, APTN News reporter Kathleen Martens reported in the early evening.
Coastal employees will dismantle gates and any blockades to the Unist’ot’en camp, and not the RCMP. The road to the camp will be blacked throughout the night, Martens reported.
The RCMP earlier on Monday said they planned to enforce an injunction and remove Indigenous land defenders from the Gidimt’en and Unistoten fortified checkpoints blocking access for pipeline construction in northern British Columbia.
Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have halted company workers from passing their checkpoints into “unceded territory”, saying that they need consent from hereditary chiefs, who the RCMP offered to meet with.
At this point, the federal police are waiting on Coastal GasLink, who own the pipeline, on whether the company will enforce the injunction to remove the group at from their checkpoints. They are currently blocking road access to the barriers from certain directions.
B.C.’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police released a morning statement saying that exclusion zones and road closures would be set up for “police and public safety reasons”.
“We are very hopeful that there will not be violence or disorder as we enforce the court order,” the federal police said in the press release, adding that “the safety of the public and our officers is paramount”.
The RCMP Aboriginal Liaison Unit’s interacted for the first time Monday with the protestors at the Gidumt’en access point just before 11 a.m. local time, giving an ultimatum that only the chiefs could pass the exclusionary zone to meet with officials.
The protests are taking place over the Coastal GasLink Pipeline that will take natural gas from near Dawson Creek in B.C.’s north to the coast where a processing LNG Canada facility is to be built.
Those that have consent are allowed to pass through what Coastal GasLink has called “blockades”, the group who set up the checkpoints have said, according to one of the leaders.
The RCMP issued an injunction last month ordering that those blocking the small forestry road needed by CoastalGas workers to stop putting up barriers and allow the company through.
Local media reported that TransCanada has already signed agreements with all Indigenous nations on the pipeline route, but the hereditary chiefs of the five Wet’suwet’en First Nation clans say the deal does not apply to traditional territories.
Video from the scene shows a wooden barricade with barbed wire, while those part of the Indigenous-led Gidimt’en group huddle for warmth but stand defiant in the face of the RCMP.
Protests at TransCanada
There were several protests on Monday against the actions being taken by the RCMP, CoastalGas and TransCanada across the country, including at the TransCanada company office in Toronto in support of the Wet’suwet’en.
There was a pipeline protest in downtown North Bay where some 20 people gathered in support of the Indigenous land defenders, part of some 25 peaceful protests taking place in Canada, reported Bay Today.
So far, there has been no news of scheduled Guelph-based protest, but there are some 20 protests and gathering taking place on Tuesday across southern Ontario, Canada and even a few internationally.