Unist-ot’en supporter arrested for denying contractor access to pipeline site

The unidentified 29-year-old woman was later released without being charged

Police arrested a Unist’ot’en (Dark House, Wet’suwet’en) supporter yesterday after she attempted to prevent a Coastal GasLink (CGL) contractor from accessing the company’s worksite near Houston.

In a video posted on the Unist’ot’en Camp Facebook page, an unidentified woman is seen explaining to RCMP officers she was simply enforcing a protocol agreement that requires CGL to give advance notice of any vehicles trying to pass through a checkpoint on the Morice River Bridge.

The woman shows the police a list noting the vehicle in question was not present. The officer acknowedges the list but explains she is in violation of a B.C. Supreme Court injunction granting the company access to the property and goes ahead and arrests her.

RCMP Arrest Unist'ot'en Supporter

SHARE WIDELY – One Unist’ot’en supporter was arrested this morning at approximately 9:45am for enforcing provisions of a temporary access agreement with Coastal GasLink. The Access Protocol Agreement between CGL and Unist’ot’en/Dark House states that the corporation or its contractors will provide at least 24 hours of advanced notice for any attempted entrances.This access agreement was created in an attempt to secure information on who is accessing the territory, and to protect the safety of, and prevent arrest of, Unist'ot'en house members and supporters while the interlocutory injunction hearing is settled in the Supreme Court.Our supporter was unlawfully arrested for enforcing this agreement, while CGL's contractor violated the protocol and attempted to enter without adequate notice. Today the RCMP have arrested the person complying with the injunction and not those breaking it. Unist'ot'en in no way, shape, or form consent to Coastal GasLink's invasion or destruction of our unceded territories. The reality is that CGL and its contractors are trespassers in violation of Wet’suwet’en, Provincial and Federal law.This is a blatant corporate bullying by the federal government against a sovereign Indigenous nation. We need our supporters to join us on the ground, screen our film in your locations, and donate now to the Legal Fund.UPDATE: She has been released with NO CHARGES. Statment here: https://www.facebook.com/unistoten/videos/442550283068282/For ways to support: http://unistoten.camp/supportertoolkit/Donate to our legal fund: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/unistoten2020legalfund/Screen "Invasion" in your community: http://unistoten.camp/media/invasion/#UNISTOTEN #NOTRESPASS #NOPIPELINES

Posted by Unist'ot'en Camp on Wednesday, November 6, 2019

When confronted by Freda Huson, a Unist’ot’en hereditary spokesperson, the officer again cites the injunction saying the protocol is a civil agreement between the Wet’suwet’en and CGL and that the woman’s actions nevertheless violate the injunction, which he is obligated to uphold.

“Our supporter was unlawfully arrested for enforcing this agreement, while CGL’s contractor violated the protocol and attempted to enter without adequate notice,” the Unist’ot’en Facebook post stated. “Today the RCMP have arrested the person complying with the injunction and not those breaking it.”

READ MORE: Coastal GasLink gets interim injuction against Unist’ot’en

The company said it did not have any information on the specific vehicle not being on the list, but in a statement said they are committed to honouring the protocol.

“Coastal GasLink has an access protocol with the Unist’ot’en Camp for the safety and security of the people using the Healing Centre as well as all users of the Morice River Bridge,” the statement said. “The protocol has worked well since it was signed in the spring and we look forward to continuing to engage with Dark House on access and our mutual interest of safety.”

A subsequent Unist’ot’en Facebook post stated the woman had been released with no charges.

An RCMP press release issued this morning at 11:35 a.m. confirmed they had dropped the charges following consultation with CGL.

“The 29-year-old woman was processed at the Houston RCMP detachment, and transported to Smithers RCMP detachment to appear before court the following day,” the release stated. “CGL were in contact with the RCMP and, after reviewing the incident, they advised that they had inadvertently not followed an agreement that they had made with the protestor regarding access. Given this information, the RCMP exercised discretion and released the protestor immediately with the understanding that the matter would be resolved between the parties.”

Meanwhile the Unist’ot’en continue to view the incident as politically motivated.

“RCMP say they are “neutral” in the conflict between Unist’ot’en people and industry, but today they re-affirmed that they are anything but,” the second post stated. “RCMP made this arrest for political reasons. It’s clear that they will target Unist’ot’en people and our supporters under the guise of the injunction, even when Coastal Gaslink has not made any complaint. The RCMP will affect arrests any time we assert any control over our sovereign territories.”

The company said they prefer a cooperative approach.

“The arrest is regrettable,” the CGL statement read. “There remains in place a legal injunction, which is enforceable by the RCMP and whose actions Coastal GasLink does not direct. We believe that having an effective access protocol in place is a much preferable option for all parties. Our top priority is safety – the safety of all road users.”

The RCMP also cited safety with respect to their actions.

“The RCMP would like to remind those who are involved in ongoing protests that police are an impartial party and are there to ensure the safety of everyone involved,” the release said.

“Demonstrators have a right to lawful, peaceful and safe protest and companies have a right to complete their work. The RCMP is working hard to ensure that these rights are protected for everyone and that all parties, contractors, the public, and their properties are kept safe.”

The Unist’ot’en remain opposed to any pipeline work being carried out on their traditional territory.

“Unist’ot’en in no way, shape, or form consent to Coastal GasLink’s invasion or destruction of our unceded territories,” they said. “The reality is that CGL and its contractors are trespassers in violation of Wet’suwet’en, Provincial and Federal law.”



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