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

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Jocelyn’s Jottings: When everyone is a friend of a friend

Chances are I know someone in Revelstoke who knows you, such is… Continue reading

Revelstoke city staff bring forward community centre reopening plans

Plans for the arena and pool will come later this summer

Slow melt at high elevations near Revelstoke this spring

At one location on Mt. Fidelity there is double the usual snowpack for early July

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read