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

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Student athletes recognized for outstanding seasons

Fernie Secondary School students got their awards in a drive by ceremony last week

The Elk Valley celebrates Canada Day

Creative socially distant Canada Day festivities were held in both Fernie and Sparwood this week

Vintage vehicles, costumed drivers cruise Fernie streets

Wheels in the Valley hosted their first ever Rally in the Valley event this past Saturday

Food conditioned black bear destroyed in Elk Valley

The bear was destroyed by the Conservation Officer Service on June 28

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read