Chief Na’moks, a spokesman for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. (The Canadian Press)

Mohawks propose temporary Indigenous police for Wet’suwet’en territory

The RCMP has already committed to ending patrols along a critical roadway

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake in Quebec proposed Friday that its Peacekeepers head up a temporary Indigenous police force to patrol the Wet’suwet’en territory and allow the RCMP to withdraw entirely from the area.

Grand Chief Joseph Norton said his community’s chief Peacekeeper has offered to work with other Indigenous police chiefs to gather the officers required.

Nathan Cullen, a former NDP MP who is acting as a liaison between the governments and the chiefs, said he wasn’t aware of the offer from the Mohawk council and it isn’t a part of the discussions at the meeting between the hereditary chiefs and ministers.

“New ideas or new offers, they’re coming in from everywhere,” he said. “That’s helpful to an extent but it’s going to be the people around that table who are going to make the solutions happen.”

The RCMP has already committed to ending patrols along a critical roadway in Wet’suwet’en territory while the negotiations unfold, while Coastal GasLink has consented to a two-day pause in its activities in northwestern B.C.

The dispute over the Coastal GasLink pipeline project began months ago, but tensions began to rise on Dec. 31 when the B.C. Supreme Court granted the company an injunction calling for the removal of any obstructions from roads, bridges or work sites it has been authorized to use in Wet’suwet’en territory.

The RCMP moved in to enforce that injunction on Feb. 6. Hours later, protesters started holding up railway traffic outside of Belleville, Ont., in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, thwarting freight and passenger rail travel.

During question period Friday, Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said the economic repercussions of the suspended rail service and shipments have amounted to a “war on working people” and demanded to know how government would fight back.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau told a Commons committee on Thursday that Ottawa is trying to analyze the economic impacts to the economy of the disruptions, but said it is a complex calculation that could take up to six months to fully determine.

Garneau said the financial implications will likely be higher than most Canadians might think, as a total of $300 billion worth of goods moves by train every year in the country.

“What’s important here to realize is, even if we start tomorrow and we had all the barricades down, it takes weeks, perhaps months to get back up to speed.”

The Canadian Press

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