A checkpoint is seen at a bridge leading to the Unist’ot’en camp on a remote logging road near Houston, B.C., on January 17, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Charges will not be laid against the 22 pipeline protesters who were arrested on traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. in February, the BC Prosecution Service has confirmed.

The protesters were arrested between Feb. 6 and 10 near Smithers, sparking solidarity protests across the country.

The prosecution service recommended no charges due to lack of violence during the arrest and lack of evidence linking the arrested protesters to damage at a bridge as the reasons for dropping charges.

They also mentioned ongoing negotiations between hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs and the B.C. government, to which Crown counsel is not privy.

Arrests were made based on an injunction granted to Coastal GasLink, the proponent trying to build a 670-kilometre liquefied natural gas pipeline through from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, running through traditional Wet’suwet’en territory.

Coastal GasLink has also dropped civil charges against the protesters.

READ MORE: 11 arrested in day 3 of injunction enforcement against Wet’suwet’en

Opposition to the pipeline goes back to 2007 when interest in the pipeline route began. A checkpoint at the entrance to the territory was established in 2009, and they constructed buildings on the pipeline route, including the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre which opened in 2015. The centre is used for art programs, language courses, addictions treatment and cultural camps, and some people live there year round.

In December 2018, Coastal GasLink got an injunction against the checkpoint, because workers had been denied access. Unist’ot’en refused to take down a checkpoint – and a second Wet’suwet’en house, Gidimt’en, set up an additional check point. RCMP showed up in January 2019 to enforce the injunction, arresting at least 14 people. Up to 30 solidarity protests happened around the country that month.

Things flared up again in this winter when an injunction was again granted to Coastal GasLink. RCMP established a satellite office near the camp. On Feb. 6 of this year, RCMP began raiding the camps, arresting six people. The next day they arrested four people at a second camp. On Feb. 8 they arrested 11 people, and finally on Feb. 10 they arrested seven more people. Police arrived with dogs, rifles and helicopters to a scene of elderly matriarchs singing around a fire.

Internal documents leaked detailed that the RCMP officers were instructed to “use as much violence toward the gate as you want,” up to and including lethal force. The documents show that RCMP knew Wet’suwet’en protesters had hunting rifles, but said there was “no single threat indicating that [land defenders] will use firearms.”

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

First Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Sunflower Highway, art initiative to connect Fraser Valley, Thompson-Nicola and Okanagan

Sunflowers made out of reclaimed materials will be installed on public art trails

Residents warned to stay away from flooded Cache Creek park

Water might look shallow, but is several feet deep in places

Ashcroft receives grants to get new hot tub and lift station

‘The hot tub is a major benefit for many residents’

Cache Creek gets funding for improvements on Old Cariboo Road

Work will help to mitigate damage from water and debris flows during flooding

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read