The dispute may be centred nearly 1,000 kilometres to the northwest, but members of the Splatsin First Nation are showing their support for the Gidimt’en checkpoint and Unist’ot’en camp.
Organizer Jody Leon said that the solidarity event today (Tuesday) is planned at the Splatsin Community Centre near Enderby at 7 p.m. Supporters are asked to meet at a fire and bring warm clothing and seating. Donations and supplies for the Unist’ot’en camp will be accepted, Leon said.
The solidarity event comes the evening after 14 arrests in relation to the anti-LNG pipeline protest were made by RCMP.
According to an RCMP statement, the arrests were made to enforce the interim injunction order granted by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
“As of 6:45 p.m. (Monday), there were 14 persons arrested from the blockade set up by Gitdumt’en on Morice West Forest Service Road for various offences including alleged violations of the injunction order,” the statement reads. “All those arrested continue to be processed at this time. During the arrests, the RCMP observed a number of fires being lit along the roadway by unknown persons, and large trees felled across the roadway.”
Police said their primary concern is the safety of everyone involved, including protesters, police, area residents and the general public. To improve safety, police said, a temporary exclusion zone, which under civil injunctions are similar to criminal search warrants, was established. Anyone outside of the enforcement team is barred access from the zone.
“There are both privacy and safety concerns in keeping the public and the media at the perimeter, which should be as small as possible and as brief as possible in the circumstances, based on security and safety needs,” the statement reads.
However, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) condemns the “RCMP intimidation of Wet’suwet’en land defenders.”
In a statement issued on behalf of Grand Chief Stewart Philip Sunday, UBCIC said that all five Wet’suwet’en clans, to which the Gidimt’en belong, oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
“We strongly condemn the RCMP’s use of intimidation, harassment, and ongoing threats of forceful intervention and removal of the Wet’suwet’en land defenders from Wet’suwet’en unceded territory,” Phillip said. “In continuing to aggressively threaten the Wet’suwet’en with eviction from their own title land, the governments of Canada and British Columbia are blatantly ignoring the Supreme Court of Canada’s precedent-setting Delgamuukw case which confirmed that the Wet’suwet’en’s Title and Rights have never been extinguished.”
The BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) has also expressed its concern.
“First Nations Chiefs in B.C. are seeking resolution to the land question. Premier Horgan and Prime Minister Trudeau must intensify their reconciliation work in 2019 as progress will require leadership and courage. Let’s get to solutions between the Crown and First Nations regarding jurisdiction and legal orders otherwise we’ll see our volatile history repeated yet again,” said regional Chief Terry Teegee.
The RCMP said it respects indigenous rights and titles across Canada.
“Our role is to enforce the injunction and not to interfere with any ongoing discussion between our Indigenous communities and any other level of government,” the RCMP statement reads.
Rallies are planned in several communities across Canada Tuesday, including Calgary, Chilliwack, Cortes Island, Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton, Lillooet, Kitchener Waterloo, Mi’kma’ki, Montreal, Nelson, North Bay, Ottawa, Prince George, Regina, Rexton, Saskatoon, Six Nations, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg and White Horse, as well as a handful of international locations.