Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation had been preventing company workers from getting through their checkpoints, asserting they can only pass if they have consent from hereditary leaders. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC) The agreement reached Thursday between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and RCMP over the enforcement of a injunction was spurred by concerns over the Mounties’ use of force on people when entering the Gidimt’en camp on Monday.
"We are adamantly opposed to this proposed project and that will never change, but we are here to ensure the safety of our people," said Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief Na’Moks Thursday after the agreement was finalized.
Wet’suwet’en members had set up checkpoints on a remote stretch of forest service road and a bridge preventing people working on a pipeline project from accessing their traditional territory, which sits about 300 kilometres west of Prince George, B.C.
The Coastal GasLink project is run by TransCanada Corp., now officially known as TC Energy, and is meant to move natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the coast, where a liquefied natural gas project is scheduled for construction.
A court injunction, granted in December, ordered people to stop preventing Coastal GasLink from gaining access to the road and bridge. RCMP began enforcing the injunction on Monday.
A part of their enforcement action, RCMP established an exclusion zone, preventing access to the area by the public and media. RCMP have denied they jammed communications, preventing media and public from providing information about the situation at the camp on Monday afternoon. ‘They didn’t care’
Molly Wickham, Gidimt’en member and spokesperson for the camp , told CBC the enforcement action RCMP’s Aboriginal liaison team had described to them earlier Monday was not what happened that afternoon.
"They painted a picture that was extremely opposite of what happened," she said. Members of B.C. RCMP’s Division Liaison Team approach the barricade at the Gidimt’en camp in northern B.C. on Monday. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC) As at least one helicopter circled overhead, armed RCMP officers, including members of the Tactical and Emergency Response Teams, approached the gate "in force" said Wickham.
Some of the people at the checkpoint had locked their arms to the gate . Wickham said RCMP began pulling the gate backwards and the people attached were in danger of being injured.
"They had no regard. We were pleading to them to stop what they were doing, that if they continued they would break people’s arms, that people were in grave danger. And they didn’t listen. They didn’t care. They just looked right at us as if we weren’t saying anything."
She said police were cutting off the barbed wire topping the gate and "it was flying in peoples’ faces. People were trying to cover themselves." Police cut barbed wire at the Gidimt’en gate. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC) "They’re likely to say people were resisting or being aggressive and we were trying to desperately save those peoples’ limbs."
She said police climbed over the gate and began pulling people from the gate and pinning them down, multiple officers for each individual.
She said they used more force with the men. She said she saw one man thrown down from the gate and he appeared to be unconscious.
"I was screaming for him to answer me. I was screaming for someone to check on him," she said. "He was just laying limp on the snow."
She describes it as "chaos happening all around."
She was not injured. She was arrested and moved out of the way, but said she and other women kept challenging the RCMP with words, asking them "Are you going to continue the violence against Indigenous women on their own territories?"Wickham said she feels they got through to some of […]
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