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Wet’suwet’en Fear Contaminated Soil Cleanup Is Creating New Risks

Wet’suwet’en Fear Contaminated Soil Cleanup Is Creating New Risks

Waste from diesel spills by Coastal GasLink and RCMP is being dumped in local landfill.

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Tarp covering spill site at RCMP’s Community-Industry Safety Office, which was set up last year to patrol protests where Coastal GasLink is building a pipeline to transport natural gas. Photo: submitted.

Efforts to clean up diesel spills by the RCMP and Coastal GasLink in Wet’suwet’en territory risk spreading the contamination, the First Nation has warned.

Mike Ridsdale, environmental assessment co-ordinator for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, the central office for the nation, said the waste is being moved to a nearby landfill where it will still pose a threat.

“We’ve had two spills where the contaminants were knowingly moved into another watershed and are now threatening our water,” Ridsdale said. “This is unacceptable to the Wet’suwet’en, and our yintah (territory) should not suffer from this poorly designed remediation.”

Government officials are defending the transfer of 2,351 tonnes of contaminated soil and gravel to a nearby landfill instead of a site farther away that’s designed to take hazardous waste.

The materials came from two separate spills, one at a Coastal GasLink work camp and the other at the RCMP Community-Industry Safety Office, both south of Houston on the Morice West Forest Service Road.

Police established the remote detachment to monitor potential conflicts over the building of Coastal GasLink’s natural gas pipeline, which is opposed by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

Each spill is estimated at about 500 litres. The spill at the RCMP detachment occurred about 100 metres from the Morice River.

The contaminated soil is being taken to the Knockholt Landfill east of Houston, which is within a kilometre of the Bulkley River. According to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s website, the landfill is suitable for residential, commercial and institutional waste, including food, wood, animal carcasses and scrap metal. Industrial waste is not accepted.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Security Camera Captures Heavily Armed RCMP at Wet’suwet’en Cultural Site

Security Camera Captures Heavily Armed RCMP at Wet’suwet’en Cultural Site

RCMP have no reason to carry assault weapons or even be at the newly constructed smokehouse, say spokespersons.

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RCMP officers and Coastal GasLink pipeline workers captured on trail camera despite lack of environmental assessment approvals. Photo submitted.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation are challenging RCMP actions on their territory after a security camera captured images of police with assault rifles checking an empty building located deep in the woods.

The building, a smokehouse that will soon be used to process fish, was built this spring at the request of Gidimt’en Clan Hereditary Chief Woos. It is on the Morice River about one kilometre from the Morice West Forest Service Road, not far from the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre where conflict between Wet’suwet’en members and pipeline builders began a decade ago.

The long dispute came to a head in January 2019 when heavily armed RCMP officers enforced an injunction by removing barricades and arresting 14 people opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory. Earlier this year large RCMP operations again removed barricades and arrested dozens at several camps over five days.

A trail camera installed to monitor the Gidimt’en smokehouse captured two RCMP visits this month, including images of three officers, one carrying what appears to be a semi-automatic Colt C8 assault rifle, surrounding the building.

According to Cpl. Madonna Saunderson, the officers are members of a Quick Response Team assigned to the Community-Industry Safety Office, a remote detachment established to police the Morice West Forest Service Road following the arrests in January 2019.

“The photos being circulated online relate to recent patrols and the check of a newly constructed building which is on the pipeline’s right of way and is therefore in breach of the BC Supreme Court injunction order,” the statement said. “We understand that CGL has posted a notice on the building advising of this breach.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Amidst National Crisis, Province Gives Unist’ot’en an Ultimatum

Amidst National Crisis, Province Gives Unist’ot’en an Ultimatum

Meet with pipeline company within 30 days or decision will be made without you, Environmental Assessment Office says.

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Unist’ot’en member Brenda Michell, whose chief name is Geltiy, was arrested on Feb. 10. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood.

The office found Coastal GasLink had not provided the information needed to allow the office to assess the project’s impact.

But it said that was because the company had been prevented from accessing the area to gather the information by Wet’suwet’en opposed to the project.

Discussions between the Wet’suwet’en and Coastal GasLink are unlikely to be easy to arrange, if they happen at all.

Opposition to Coastal GasLink’s LNG pipeline by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters have thrown the country into a national crisis. Blockades have closed major highways and railways over the past two weeks. 

On Friday, Trudeau said the barricades erected across the country should now be removed.

The nationwide protests were initiated when the RCMP enforced an injunction by removing barricades and arresting 28 people along the Morice West Forest Service Road over five days earlier this month. 

Seven of those were arrested at the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, including Karla Tait, volunteer director of clinical programming. 

In a news release, Tait questioned the timing of the province’s directive. 

“It is very distressing, after we’ve faced assault rifles and endured arrests at the beckoning of CGL, to now be advised by EAO to work collaboratively with them to address these gaps. We urge the province to take this opportunity to respect the rule of law and follow the processes laid out to protect both our rights and the environment,” Tait’s statement said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

RCMP Accused of Creating ‘Crisis of Press Freedom’ in Wet’suwet’en Raids

RCMP Accused of Creating ‘Crisis of Press Freedom’ in Wet’suwet’en Raids

Limits on reporters’ access, threats of arrest bring criticism from media, journalism groups.

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RCMP officers forced media back into confined area far from people being arrested at Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, says The Tyee’s Amanda Follett Hosgood. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood.

The RCMP’s handling of the enforcement of an injunction in Wet’suwet’en territory has generated accusations that police unnecessarily interfered with reporters doing their jobs. 

“This is them trying to control the media and block information getting out to the public, and that’s why it’s a misuse of police power,” said Karyn Pugliese, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

“Regardless of whether or not we get it perfect every time, we just can’t have a functioning democracy without media keeping an eye on the state and reporting back to the public on what they’re seeing so the public can make critical decisions about what kind of country they want to live in.”

An RCMP spokesperson says the police did what they needed to do to ensure safety as they enforced the injunction, and B.C. Premier John Horgan says anyone who feels their rights were infringed has recourse through law enforcement and the courts.

But Ethan Cox, an editor for Ricochet Media based in Montreal, said the police actions were an attack on journalists and the public’s right to know.

“This is a situation, a flash point, a very severe crisis of press freedom that’s happening in British Columbia,” he said. “This is a crisis, and we clearly have a police force that is not respecting the rights of the media and that’s a constitutional problem. That’s not some small potatoes issue.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Each Moment Here Is a Victory’: Wet’suwet’en Supporters Aren’t Backing Down

‘Each Moment Here Is a Victory’: Wet’suwet’en Supporters Aren’t Backing Down

RCMP ‘exclusion zone’ isn’t deterring anti-pipeline activists, land defenders. A report from the scene.

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‘We’re here to make sure that people stay warm and people stay fed and just to be witnesses to whatever may happen.’ Residents of a camp supporting Wet’suwet’en land defenders in northern BC on Jan. 14. Photo by Dan Mesec.

Thirty-nine kilometres down the Morice Forest Service Road in northern British Columbia, people huddle around a fire, close enough to feel some heat but not enough to melt their boots. 

At -34 C, it’s a fine line. 

A handful of people mill around in the camp about 60 kilometres south of Smithers. They are here to support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their opposition to a pipeline slated to cross their traditional territory. The pipeline would carry fracked gas from northeast B.C. to an LNG plant on the coast in Kitimat.

Tensions have been high in the area since a Dec. 31 B.C. Supreme Court decision that granted Coastal GasLink an injunction barring land defenders from blocking access to the pipeline work sites. Some Wet’suwet’en fear the injunction could also lead to the destruction of their camps in the area.

Since the decision, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have evicted the company from their territory and the RCMP have established an “exclusion zone” in the area, limiting access.

Meanwhile, a steady supply of food and warm clothing donations has been making its way to this remote outpost. Land defenders say they will ensure supplies are delivered to additional camps located farther along the forestry road.

But today, what they are most hungry for is information. Since RCMP unexpectedly closed the road Monday, few people have made it past the police checkpoint and communication has been limited.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

One Year after RCMP Raid, Tensions Rise as Wet’suwet’en Evict Pipeline Company

One Year after RCMP Raid, Tensions Rise as Wet’suwet’en Evict Pipeline Company

‘It’s unnerving that might be our reality again.’

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The Gidimt’en camp is located south of Smithers in northern British Columbia. Photo by Michael Toledano.

One year after a police raid in northern British Columbia attracted international attention, tensions between Wet’suwet’en land defenders and Coastal GasLink are rising once again.

The company’s recent victory in winning a court decision granting it a permanent injunction against Indigenous protest camps was short-lived.

On Saturday, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs evicted the company from their territory.

“Coastal GasLink [CGL] has violated the Wet’suwet’en law of trespass, and has bulldozed through our territories, destroyed our archaeological sites, and occupied our land with industrial man-camps,” a statementfrom the chiefs said. “Private security firms and RCMP have continually interfered with the constitutionally protected rights of Wet’suwet’en people to access our lands for hunting, trapping, and ceremony.”

The company confirmed Sunday that it had received the eviction notice.

“We have reached out to better understand their reasons and are hopeful we can find a mutually agreeable path forward,” it said in a statement. 

The company said trees had been felled across a road, making it impassable. “While it is unclear who felled these trees, this action is a clear violation of the Interlocutory Injunction as it prevents our crews from accessing work areas.”

Molly Wickham (Sledyo’), one of the land defenders, said last month she feared the then-impending court decision would bring more conflict.

As Wickham stirred a simmering moose stew on a wood stove in the cook tent at Gidimt’en camp, she worried the judgement might bring a repeat of last year’s RCMP raid.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

RCMP Planned to Use Snipers in Assault on Wet’suwet’en Protest, Guardian Reports

RCMP Planned to Use Snipers in Assault on Wet’suwet’en Protest, Guardian Reports

Newspaper cites planning documents that called for ‘lethal overwatch’ to ensure pipeline built.

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Heavily armed RCMP officers sent to Indigenous checkpoint with instructions for ‘sterlizing the site,’ documents reveal. Photo by Michael Toledano.

The RCMP were prepared to use snipers with shoot-to-kill orders when they launched a raid to remove Indigenous protesters slowing pipeline construction in Wet’suwet’en territory, the Guardian reported today.

The exclusive report by Jaskiran Dhillon and Will Parrish reveals RCMP planning notes included arguments that “lethal overwatch is req’d,” a term for deploying snipers.

The Guardian reports RCMP commanders instructed officers to “use as much violence toward the gate as you want” as they planned the Jan. 7 action to remove a gated checkpoint and camp about 120 kilometres southwest of Smithers.

The RCMP sent heavily armed officers in military-style fatigues to break down a gate, arrest 14 people and enforce a “temporary exclusion zone” that barred anyone aside from police from the area. The police were enforcing an injunction obtained by Coastal GasLink, the company building a pipeline to take natural gas to a planned LNG project in Kitimat.

The Guardian reports RCMP documents note arrests would be necessary for “sterilizing the site.” Plans included arresting everyone in the injunction area, including children and elders.

They also show the RCMP conducted surveillance in advance of the raid including heavily armed police patrols, drones, heat-sensing cameras and monitoring of protesters social media postings.

And the report reveals the RCMP and pipeline company officials worked closely together on strategy.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

When Indigenous Assert Rights, Canada Sends Militarized Police

When Indigenous Assert Rights, Canada Sends Militarized Police

It’s become routine, but ignores latest law on rights and title, say experts.

The use of heavily armed RCMP to enforce a court injunction and tear down an Indigenous blockade against TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline in northwestern British Columbia last week was part of a familiar pattern, say criminologists.

“It seems like Canada uses a show of force and police repression whenever it wants to contain First Nations exercising their aboriginal rights and title,” said Shiri Pasternak, a criminologist at Ryerson University and director of the Yellowhead Institute, a research centre focused on First Nations land and governance issues.

“Canada is creating the problem by refusing to recognize what its own courts are saying about aboriginal rights and title,” added Pasternak.

Over the last decade rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada and lower courts have established that Canadian governments have a duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous people before resources are extracted from their land, and that in many cases their land and title rights have not been extinguished.

Unlike many elected First Nations governments along the pipeline route, which signed economic benefit agreements with TransCanada, the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation have remained opposed to intrusions on their traditional lands.

Jeffrey Monaghan, a criminology professor at Carleton University who co-authored Policing Indigenous Movements: Dissent and the Security State with Andrew Crosby said the dismantling of the Wet’suwet’en blockade was intended to send a national message.

“It was very carefully choreographed to communicate to the national audience that any protests against oil and gas pipelines are going to be cracked down upon. I think it was highly symbolic. Police action doesn’t stop with the Wet’suwet’en,” said Monaghan.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Tears of Justin Trudeau

The Tears of Justin Trudeau

On January 7th the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) swept into a non-violent checkpoint set up by the Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Fourteen people were violently arrested in the ambush by the militarized colonial forces. The camp was set up by hereditary leaders to defend the ancestral lands of the Unist’ot’en and other clans from the unwanted incursions of TransCanada and its Coastal Gaslink pipeline. Following the incident Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had the temerity to extol the neoliberal scheme behind the incident as something that is good for the earth. In a speech to supporters he said: “We moved forward on the LNG Canada project, which is the largest private sector investment in Canada’s history, $40-billion, which is going to produce Canadian LNG that will supplant coal in Asia as a power source and do much for the environment.” After being pressed in a radio interview about the brutal raid Trudeau said of the arrests that it is “not an ideal situation, but at the same time, we’re also a country of the rule of law.” Apparently he does not consider Article 10 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be law. It states: “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their land or territories.” It may be difficult for ordinary people to choke out hypocritical, ahistorical fallacies without missing a beat, but the Prime Minister has a gift for spouting empty platitudes that fly in the face of reality and he isn’t alone.

There is something familiar about Trudeau’s lamentation on this situation as well as his appeal for the rule of law. This is because neoliberal leaders around the world have used similar justifications for the violence of the corporate state.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Another Crucial Canadian Pipeline Runs Into Trouble

Another Crucial Canadian Pipeline Runs Into Trouble

LNG canada

Late last year, Royal Dutch Shell gave the greenlight to a massive LNG export terminal on Canada’s Pacific Coast, one of the largest investments in LNG in years. But like other fossil fuel projects in Canada, the plans have run into some trouble.

Shell’s LNG Canada project hinges on a crucial pipeline that will connect gas fields along the border of British Columbia and Alberta to the Pacific coast at Kitimat. The Coastal GasLink pipeline is to be constructed by TransCanada (or, rather TC Energy, as the company now wants to be known).

The Coastal GasLink pipeline was supposed to mark a departure from previous long distance pipelines in Canada – a project that would, from the start, adequately consult with First Nations. Prior pipeline projects – Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Line 3; TransCanada’s Energy East; as well as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion – ran into stiff resistance from various First Nations.

TransCanada hoped that Coastal GasLink would be different. But, it too is now meeting resistance. Members of the Wet’suwet’en nation threw up makeshift barricades to stop construction on their land in recent weeks. On January 7, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police broke through those barricades and arrested at least 14 people. RCMP said it was enforcing a court order, but the clash made national and international headlines.

The situation is complex because the Wet’suwet’en nation never signed a treaty with Canada, so their territory is neither ceded nor even formally acknowledged by Canada. “What I see is a long history of the Canadian government doing its best to avoid acknowledging the existence of other systems of government,” Gordon Christie, a scholar of indigenous law at the University of British Columbia, told The Guardian.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Judy Wilson’s Message for Canadians: ‘The Land Defenders Are Doing This for Everybody’

Judy Wilson’s Message for Canadians: ‘The Land Defenders Are Doing This for Everybody’

RCMP raids in Wet’suwet’en territory can’t bring justice, reconciliation or a better future, Neskonlith chief says.

The Tyee reached out to Wilson to talk about RCMP action against pipeline protesters in the Wet’suwet’en nation in northwest B.C. because of her extensive involvement with government and industries and her long history of environmental advocacy. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What are your thoughts on how governments are responding to the RCMP action in the Wet’suwet’en territory?

I was just reading Premier [John] Horgan’s response to the Unist’ot’en, and I think he was trying to stay on the middle ground. He mentioned the bands who signed these agreements [to allow the pipeline], but to me, the issue is clearly about the hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs. They are the proper titleholders to their unceded territory, and they already made a decision. They said no pipelines in their territory.

As for Trudeau, I don’t think he’s really responded. It’s concerning that on one hand he talks about truth and reconciliation, he talks about implementing UNDRIP [the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People] and has supported Bill C-262, which is about implementation — and then he’s using forceful, militarized RCMP to remove people and arrest them at Unist’ot’en and Wet’suwet’en territory. He’s speaking contradictorily, and he’s actually in violation of some of the conventions that he signed at the United Nations.

You called for Canadians to ‘stand with land defenders.’ How can they do that?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

First Nations Pipeline Protest: 14 Land Protectors Arrested as Canadian Police Raid Indigenous Camp

First Nations Pipeline Protest: 14 Land Protectors Arrested as Canadian Police Raid Indigenous Camp

In Canada, armed forces raided native Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia Monday, with at least 14 arrests being reported. Land defenders faced off with Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the police breached two checkpoints set up to keep pipeline workers out of protected territory. Indigenous leaders are reportedly being blocked from their territory. TransCanada Corporation has been seeking entry into indigenous territory, where they are planning to build the massive $4.7 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline. Land protectors from First Nations clans set up two encampments where they had been physically blocking entry to TransCanada workers.

We speak with Karla Tait, a member of the Unist’ot’en House Group of the Gilseyhu Clan. She’s the mental wellness manager for the Northern Region with the First Nations Health Authority, serving the 54 First Nations in Northern British Columbia. Dr. Tait is also the director of clinical programming for the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In Canada, armed forces raided native Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia Monday, with at least 14 arrests being reported. Land defenders faced off with Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the officers breached two checkpoints set up to keep pipeline workers out of protected territory. Indigenous leaders are reportedly being blocked from their territory.

WET’SUWET’EN LAND DEFENDER: The Wet’suwet’en have won rights and title to their lands. We did not hurt anyone. The hereditary chiefs say, “No, you cannot go through our lands.” And under your law, the authority is them.

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RCMP planning mass arrests at pipeline protest camp, northern B.C chiefs fear

RCMP planning mass arrests at pipeline protest camp, northern B.C chiefs fear

RCMP say they are just working to keep the peace

A dispute over energy projects and aboriginal rights is heating up at a pipeline protest camp in northern B.C. where First Nations leaders fear police are planning mass arrests.

Since 2009, Wet’suwet’en people, activists and environmentalists have been building a remote camp in northern B.C. to block several major pipeline projects. They include:

  • Chevron’s Pacific Trail Pipeline.
  • Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project.
  • Shell’s TransCanada Coastal GasLink pipeline project.

Shell plans to build a 650-kilometre pipeline from B.C.’s gas-fracking region to a proposed LNG site in Kitimat.

Spokeswoman Shela Shapiro told CBC News the company supports the right to peaceful protest, but called the RCMP after Unist’ot’en protesters prevented workers from using a public road on Thursday.

The camp is about a two-hour drive southwest of Houston, B.C. on rough forest roads.

Shapiro said Unist’ot’en protesters have told TransCanada staff to leave the area “on a number of occasions.”

Yesterday afternoon, the Unist’ot’en Camp posted a message on its Facebook page.

“Coastal Gaslink crews showed up at Chisolm checkpoint. Threatened checkpoint crew that a police report will be filed as they do not have consent to enter the territory.”

‘Non-violent occupation’

Shapiro told CBC that TransCanada  is “absolutely willing” to work with camp leaders, saying the company has made more than 90 attempts to speak with the hereditary chief and Unist’ot’en spokesperson.

The Unist’ot’en camp calls itself a “non-violent occupation” of traditional aboriginal land. Unist’ot’en camp protesters routinely stop traffic on remote forest service roads near the camp and turn back oil and gas crews.

Companies trying to use the area say they’re trying to use public roads to access Crown land, and some have ferried their crews to nearby worksites by helicopter.

Now, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says top RCMP officials have told them a major police crackdown is imminent.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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