Six arrested for obstruction in RCMP enforcement of injunction on Wet'suwet'en traditional territory
The word "Wet'suwet'en" does not appear once in an RCMP news release about today's police action on the Morice West Forest Service Road.
Even though the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association have decried the RCMP's conduct in Wet'suwet'en territories, the Mounties only mentioned the B.C. community of Houston and the Morice West Forest Service Road.
"A total of 6 individuals refused to leave the area and were arrested for obstruction," the RCMP stated in a news release. "One individual was arrested for resisting arrest as well as obstruction. Several individuals, including members of the media, were transferred out for safety reasons, but not arrested."
Police noted that one male who was dressed in a costume climbed up a tree before being taken into custody.
One woman locked herself in a vehicle and removed her clothing, according to the Mounties.
"A window was broken in order to gain access to that vehicle," the RCMP stated. "No injuries were received by the protester and she was subsequently taken into custody."
No names were released and RCMP did not divulge how many, if any, of those arrested were members of the Wet'suwet'en Nation. They've insisted that they're land defenders, not protesters, and that the Coastal GasLink pipeline is in violation of Wet'suwet'en law.
The six arrested people have been taken to the Houston RCMP detachment.
The province has granted permits for the $6.6-billion pipeline, which will deliver fracked gas to an LNG Canada plant in Kitimat.
In 1997, Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs won a landmark victory in the Supreme Court of Canada when all nine justices ruled that their Aboriginal title still existed over parts of 58,000 square kilometres of unceded land in north-central B.C.
The RCMP created an "exclusion zone", which it described as "expansive from the onset of the enforcement operation due to the remote location of the blockades".
"At this time, there are no restrictions on anyone from returning back to the 27-kilometre point, which has been designated as a protest and media site," the Mounties stated. "However, due to the nature of the work being undertaken, the heavy machinery that is being brought in by the company, the treacherous weather and road conditions in the area, and other unforeseen circumstances, anyone traveling the Morice West Forest Service Road should anticipate being stopped and restricted from the area at any given point because the situation is dynamic and ongoing."
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association posted an open letter on its website saying it's "alarmed by the institution of an overbroad RCMP exclusion zone prohibiting Wet'suwet'en people, journalists, and the public from entering and monitoring police activity".
The BCCLA urged the RCMP to "refrain from instituting exclusion zones".
"Restricting the movement of Wet'suwet'en people through their own territories is a grave violation of Wet'suwet'en law and jurisdiction, and constitutionally protected Wet'suwet'en rights and title," the BCCLA stated.
The Union of B.C. Indian chiefs president, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, said his organization is "in absolute outrage and a state of painful anguish as we witness the Wet'suwet'en people having their title and rights brutally trampled on and their right to self-determination denied".
"Forcing Indigenous peoples off their own territory is in complete and disgusting violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the Horgan government recently committed to uphold through Bill 41, and which the Trudeau government has also committed to uphold through yet to be introduced legislation," Phillip said earlier today.