RCMP arrest Unist'ot'en matriarchs during ceremony to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      Today, a large convoy of Mounties arrived at the Unist'ot'en camp and took high-profile matriarchs into custody.

      Freda Huson (Chief Howihkat), Brenda Michell (Chief Geltiy), and Karla Tait, director of clinical programs at the Unist'ot'en Healing Center, were arrested while holding a ceremony to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

      There are five Wet'suwet'en clans and 13 house groups. The Unist'ot'en (Dark House) is one of three houses within the Gilseyhu (Bull Frog) clan.

      "We, the Unist'ot'en, know that violence on our lands and violence on our women are connected," the Unist'ot'en said in a statement. "During [the] ceremony, we hung red dresses to remember the spirits of the murdered women, girls, and two-spirit people taken from us.

      "We were holding a cremation for the Canadian Indigenous Reconciliation industry as the RCMP battered through the gates," the statement continued. "Land defenders, including Victoria Redsun (Denesuline), Autumn Walken (Nlaka'pamux), and Pocholo Alen Conception have also been arrested."

      Wet'suwet'en land defenders say that they're not intimidated by police, colonial courts, or men in suits and their money.

      "We are still here," they declared, following the latest RCMP arrests on traditional Wet'suwet'en land. "We will always be there. This is not over."

      The Unist'ot'en camp is at the 60-kilometre point along the Morice West Forest Service Road on Wet'suwet'en Nation traditional territory in northern B.C.

      The RCMP is enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction obtained by Coastal GasLine Pipeline Ltd. to enable it to complete a $6.6-billion project that crosses over unceded lands occupied by the Wet'suwet'en people since long before European contact.

      Huson was named as a defendant in the company's injunction. She told the Straight last week that she is not a protester. Rather, she's upholding Wet'suwet'en law.

      In fact, she delivered an eviction notice last month to Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd.

      “While we’re impacting their critical infrastructure, they’re affecting our critical infrastructure because the land base is really critical to us,” Huson said.

      Hereditary chiefs won a unanimous ruling in the Supreme Court of Canada in 1997 that their Aboriginal title still exists and was not extinguished when B.C. joined Confederation in 1871.

      "We, as Wet'suwet'en, have never ceded our sovereign title and rights over the 22,000 square kilometres of our land, waters, and resources within our Yintah," they stated in today's news release. "Our 'Anuc niwh'it'ën (Wet'suwet'en law) and feast governance systems remain intact and continue to govern our people and our lands. We recognize the authority of these systems."


      On February 13, the Unist'ot'en Camp posted this video on YouTube, entitled "Reconciliation Is Dead: RCMP Invade Unist'ot'en Territory".