14 arrested as RCMP enforce injunction on Wet'suwet’en Territory - APTN NewsAPTN News

14 arrested as RCMP enforce injunction on Wet’suwet’en Territory


The scene at the Gidmit’en check point Monday. Photo: Wet’suwet’en Facebook page.

Kathleen Martens
More than a dozen people were arrested Monday afternoon as armed police, some dressed in camouflage fatigues, broke down homemade barriers at a checkpoint on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory on the Morice River road in the B.C. interior.

Still, hereditary Wet’suwet’en leaders pledged to keep fighting.

“We may have lost this battle but not the war,” said Chief Madeek, hereditary leader of the Gidimt’en clan, whose checkpoint outside the Unist’ot’en camp was toppled first.

Reports from people at the scene said some RCMP officers burst from vehicles idling at the site for most of the day.

Carmen Nikal, 72, was at the check point.

“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.”

Nikal was taken to the RCMP detachment in Houston, 45 minutes away, processed and released Monday evening.

The police arrived in a convoy around 9 a.m. before erecting a road block and what the RCMP called an exclusion zone to keep members of the public and the media out of the area.

“It’s for public safety,” said a Mountie, whose name was not visible, standing in front of a mobile command centre.

He declined to explain the risk and referred questions to the media liaison, who couldn’t be reached because of the lack of cellphone service at the site.

There were accusations the RCMP blocked cellular service in the area during the operation. An accusation the police deny.

After the police road block went up, Madeek joined three other hereditary chiefs in being allowed in to meet with officials from Coastal GasLink at the checkpoint.

“We tried to reason with them,” he told supporters later gathered around a bonfire outside the roadblock.

“We told them they don’t have our permission to be here.”

But the company, a subsidiary of TransCanada, refused to negotiate, added hereditary Chief Namoks.

“They said they had an (interim) injunction and that’s all they needed.”

Nikal said the police went over top of the barricade and there was a scuffle between the advancing RCMP and the first line of Gidimt’en clan members.

Police then made their way to a line of women that included spokesperson Molly Wickham.

The women were taken into custody and driven to face a Justice of the Peace in Prince George, B.C., more than four hours away by car.

“I’m not sure why… they would be taken to Prince George,” said Nikal. “Because I didn’t see the women in that line including Molly doing anything that I didn’t do which is just stand your ground.”

According to a statement from the RCMP Monday evening, the arrests are specific to the Gidimt’en check point.

“As of 6:45 p.m., there were 14 persons arrested from the blockade set up by [Gidimt’en] on Morice West Forest Service Road for various offences including alleged violations of the injunction order,” said the statement.


The injunction granted Dec. 14 in B.C. Supreme Court agreed the company could access some Unist’ot’en land to prepare for the LNG natural gas pipeline.

The company wants access through the Unist’ot’en camp 20 kilometres up the Morice River road from the Gidimt’en check point to complete preparatory work on the 670-kilometre pipeline.

The camp has been standing for nearly a decade to prevent three proposed pipelines from cutting through Wet’suwet’en territory.

But now access is almost guaranteed.

Although it’s not clear when RCMP will move on the camp and its occupants.

The company has signed agreements with elected representatives of 20 First Nations along the pipeline route.

But the hereditary clans of the Wet’suwet’en say they are the caretakers of the land and oppose any fossil fuel development.

“We know who we are and we stand strong,” Chief Na’Moks said. “We don’t trust LNG and we don’t trust the RCMP.”

“This is a crisis,” added Grand Chief Stewart Phillip in Vancouver.

His organization – the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs – accused the RCMP in a statement of intimidating peaceful protesters.

“It is insulting and upsetting that contract workers for LNG can go onto our land (today) and Wet’suwet’en people can’t,” said Na’Moks.

“This calls into question the democracy that is Canada.”

The road block, failed dialogue with the company and arrests were a dramatic end to an increased police presence in Houston, a town about 45 minutes from the camp, over several days.

“We will keep fighting,” added Madeek. “We have too much to lose.”



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12 Responses to “14 arrested as RCMP enforce injunction on Wet’suwet’en Territory”

  1. Lucassands7@gmail.com'
    Lucas Sands January 9, 2019 at 5:32 pm #

    What a shame, they will make any lie up , be proud and stand your ground, my brothers and sisters, they will stop at nothing, or care who they hurt, go put your pipeline through some shognosh, land, not ours, we happen love and care about mother earth.

  2. koabdeal@hotmail.com'
    Concerned Nova Scotian January 9, 2019 at 4:26 pm #

    The concept that a group of people feel entitled to stopping business/production/economical development because they feel the land is theirs is insane to me. I have a rather nice, large piece of property in a nice neighborhood in Halifax Nova Scotia. If the government told me they NEEDED my backyard for economical development, I would have my property assessed and they would pay me out. Who am I to tell them they’re not allowed to make my city better because it’s ‘my land’? (and has been for generations!)

    If you dislike the idea of the pipeline because of the other issues, I totally get that. Invest in green, damage to land, overall reliance on fossil fuels, damage to the enviornment, companies with questionable ethics…I got ya. But we have a vote so that you can actively vote against parties that have these methodologies or have different beliefs. If enough people care about something (and let parties know that we care) we will vote people into power that agree with them. I voted Trudeau because I agree with his inclusive message. I’ll likely vote Singh next election because I agree with what he stands for. If you dislike the idea of a pipeline, don’t vote for somebody who wants it. If your guy losses, that sucks. I had to deal with Harper for years, and I wasn’t in the street with a sign because he did things I didn’t like. Enough Canadians liked his message, and that’s what democracy is about.

    I’ve been a Canadian my entire life, as have my parents, and my grandparents before them. There are tons of things worth protesting (done by the government no less!) but setting up baracades and protesting to stop something that has been approved and signed off on is insane to me. The entire concept of aboriginal communities believing they have some sort of ‘right’ to some land boggles my mind. It’s 2019, join the rest of the world.

    Tl;dr I think this entire thing is insane. You’re accomplishing nothing because the deal has been finalized, your message falls on primarily deaf ears, and you may make yourselves harder to employ due to potential criminal offenses (something that your communities have been focusing on bettering for a long time)

    • themikeiison@shaw.ca'
      Gwusdzisas January 9, 2019 at 11:18 pm #

      Concerned Nova Scotian

      I understand your position however, with all due respect, your statements arise from ignorance, which is a lack of primary knowledge. You cannot compare your examples to this situation: apples and oranges as the saying goes.

      Here are some considerations that differ from yours:
      Has your family occupied the land you refer to for 10,000 years plus?
      Are generations of your family buried in your backyard?
      Has your land provided sustenance for thouands of years to your family / people through hunting, trapping, fishing, berries, ferns, medicines, plants, shrubs, roots, tree barks, stone implements and so much more?
      Do you believe the forest, land, rivers, mountains and animals are a scacred gift from the Creator?
      Do you believe it is your responsibility to protect the Creators gift?
      Do you believe money and employment is more important than pristine clear mountain water and a healthy living biodiverse forest that provides for the needs of your people?
      Do you believe you are one integral component of the ecosystem?
      Have you lived a hunter gatherer life?

      Most white people I know believe they are the master of the ecosystem and it is theirs to change as they so desire.

      Why should we have to vote for someone in the white system to look after our land? Our people and our land were here before white men came and decided they own all the resources. Voting for your representatives is a colonial process. Our system is hereditary. There is no difference between the hereditary system of the Crown of England and ours. And by the way we have not been Canadians all our life. We are people of the land who belong to a clan (just like the Scottish). Our clans are our family.

      Another major difference is your land has been mortgaged , purchased and entered into a bank database. It is a commodtiy now that can change hands and ownership with an exchange of money. Your land is only your land as long as you pay your debts. You can be stripped of your land asset by a court if you don’t pay your debts or through a divorce. Your land is not land as I see it. It is a parcel within a the context of a municipality. There just is no comparison between what you consdier land and we consider land. And this is one of the big differences between us.

      We are not engaging in criminal offences. If your mother, father, wife or chidlren were threatened how would you react? Yes we consider our land as our mother as it provides everything we need to live. We are protecting our mother from the spoilage and contamination of an oil pipeline. You and I see the world and nature differently. To me, water is the most precious of any element on the periodic table.

      In friendship,

    • cbosno@gmail.com'
      Chris January 14, 2019 at 2:49 am #

      FYI Harper was in power cuz he won enough ridings that equaled seats in Parliament. He did not win the actual popular vote EVER. Our Democratic electoral dictatorship system is flawed. It should be changed. The person that gets the most votes wins? Right? Common sense? Unfortunately that’s not how Canada’s voting system works. Then throw in the fact that maybe only a small percentage of population actually votes. Anyways….I’m all for pipeline s and oil etc if that’s what the country needs to survive but last I checked most that fuel and gas is going south to US.

  3. hcooper52@gmail.com'
    Heather Cooper January 9, 2019 at 2:17 am #

    Human rights violations that Canada should be ashamed of! How can we preach to other nations about repealing violations that we are guilty of ourselves! Such hypocrisy!

  4. katlybarn@gmail.com'
    Katlyn January 8, 2019 at 11:48 pm #

    I’m confused. There were treaty leaders who consented to the pipeline, so technically Canadian government is not in the wrong here? or is some information missing. does not make sense to me

    • code_monk@fukt.ca'
      code_monk January 9, 2019 at 3:27 am #

      You are not wrong. Jurisdiction and leadership in that nation is a complex mix of heriditary and elected power spheres. Not unlike Canada

    • themikeison@shaw.ca'
      Gwusdzisaz January 9, 2019 at 5:08 am #

      Katlyn. Your confusion is understandable. The world of Aboriginal politics is confusing to those not living in its midst. The ‘elected’ Chief Councillors of the 5 bands/tribes/ have agreed to the pipeline. They are not real Chiefs but elected Councillors. They are the Chief Councillor of the elected Councillors; not an hereditary Chief who carries the responsibility during their lifetime for stewardship of the land and resources for future generations. The Indian Act of 1867 created an elected Council to manage an Indian Band with the intended purpose of destroying the powers, culture, language, traditions and treasures that Hereditary Chiefs have a fudiciary obligation to honour, care for and keep intact for future generations . Elected Chiefs and Councillors are no more important then the elected representatives in all levels of white government. They make decisions based upon their desire to be re-elected so they can continue to earn a paycheck. Many, not all, Indian band councils learned from corrupted white government how to pocket money and ride the gravy train for as long as they can. I do not condemn them all. I also realize that rural reserves have few opportunities to employ their people and generate revenue from alternative sources other than Indian Affairs Canada, sorry now Indigenous Affairs. Typical of government they called us Indians, Natives, Aboriginals and now Indigenous but never asked us what we would like to be called. All people attending school in Canada should have to study the Indian Act in History. Canadians need to understand that Canada’s relationship with the native people of this country has always been only slightly better than apartheid in South Africa. It is 2019 and we Indians are colonial serfs on our own land than we cannot own. Colonialism is alive and prospering on Indian reserves. The aristocracy owns our land and controls our land: no different than pre-Magna Carta times in medieval England. Just as Lords of the Manor could shoot a serf/peasant for hunting deer on their land the RCMP replace the Lord of the Manor today and can shoot at us, handcuff us and jail us for standing up and defending our land. Yes the feudal system still exists right here in Canada on every Indian reserve. Thanks to the Indian Act and Government of Canada. Now don’t get me started on Treaty, because it just perpetuates the status quo. We cannot own our land fee simple and therefore cannot create a middle class society. We are destined to live in welfare states if we stay on reserve. That is one of the reasons we leave the reserve and try to make a life in the urban environment. I want the privileges of middle class Canadian life and the only means of achieving it is to leave my homeland, culture, traditions and family and join the urban sprawl. Nuff said. Live long and prosper!

  5. louise.james@utoronto.ca'
    Louise James January 8, 2019 at 7:29 pm #

    One day, justice will come to the Indigenous people of Canada, but not without a fight.

  6. franola1@live.ca'
    Frances Fitzgerald January 8, 2019 at 6:20 pm #

    Stand strong, as our soil, water and lives depend on it

  7. aprillewillemse@hotmail.com'
    ??Seriously?? January 8, 2019 at 5:17 pm #

    Another abuse for Canadians to apologize for down the road. But then again, does a Canadian apology mean anything anymore? It disgusts me how the government, apologizes for the wrongs of Residential schools, stealing land, breaking treaties, etc., but then turn around and do this. Worse still, have they even offered to buy the land? Lease it? Sat down and had a talk about other possible solutions? Doubt that. They just went in and took it. Stole it. Where’s the media? Where’s the public outcry. Guessing the government has gone to GREAT lengths to keep the public from this one. I found out through a friend. Share this story, the government doesn’t want you to.

  8. bdgreyeyes7@hotmail.com'
    Brenda Greyeyes January 8, 2019 at 6:01 am #

    All these Treaty Rights, and still not Treated Right! Just sad

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