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Those at the Gidimt’en access point and camp are expecting the RCMP to enforce a provincial Supreme Court injunction requested by TransCanada, which wants to build a pipeline through unceded Wet’suwet’en territory. Photo: Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidumt’en Territory/Facebook.

Justin Brake
As police prepare to enforce a court injunction against two Indigenous camps standing in the way of a proposed B.C. pipeline, the authors of a new report say their research indicates the RCMP’s potential action against Wet’suwet’en land defenders will be neither fair, nor objective.

Jeffrey Monaghan of Carleton University and Miles Howe of Queen’s University outline in a new report published in the Canadian Journal of Sociology how RCMP assess individual activists according to political beliefs, personality traits, and even their ability to use social media.

The report says government and RCMP documents uncovered through access to information requests indicate the police are not assessing Indigenous protests in Canada based on factors of criminality but are more concerned about the protestors’ ability to gain public support.

It also shows the government’s risk assessments of Indigenous protests, court injunctions initiated by private corporations against Indigenous people, and RCMP policing tactics all favour corporate interests and private property rights over Indigenous rights and title.

This includes the current resistance by land defenders and hereditary chiefs to the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline slated to run through unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.

Checklists developed by RCMP Director of Research and Analysis Dr. Eli Sparrow as part of the National Intelligence Coordination Centre’s 2014-2015 Project SITKA reveal “it’s not criminality the RCMP are focused on, it’s the ability of that group to create and craft a counter narrative to the one that suggests whatever the police do is across the board legitimate,” Howe told APTN News in a phone interview.

RCMP intelligence centre compiled list of 89 Indigenous rights activists considered “threats”

Howe, a former journalist with the Halifax Media Co-op , covered the Mi’kmaq resistance to fracking in New Brunswick in 2013 and was arrested during a military-style raid of land defenders near Elsipogtog.

He wrote a book detailing the anti-fracking movement and the RCMP’s response to Indigenous people asserting their Indigenous and treaty rights.

Howe, a 2018 Vanier scholar and PhD candidate in Queen’s department of cultural studies, is delving deeper into the state’s policing and surveillance of Indigenous protests and movements.

His collaboration with Monaghan, an assistant professor of criminology, builds on a body of work developed by Monaghan and Andrew Crosby, a coordinator with the Ontario Public Interest Group at Carleton University.

Monaghan and Crosby used access to information laws to uncover thousands of pages of documents from the RCMP, CSIS and government agencies. They detailed their findings in the 2018 book “Policing Indigenous Movements”.

They paint a picture of how government departments, police, intelligence agencies and private sector interests work together to compile intelligence on activists—including Indigenous land defenders—and rate them according to the risk they pose to “critical infrastructure” such as pipelines, and to Canada’s “national interest”.

The authors write that the efforts represent a “new dynamic of policing” that aims to “suppress efforts [by Indigenous people] that challenge colonial control of land and resources.”They say the RCMP are “not merely [part of] an objective or neutral policing entity but an active supporter of extractive capitalism and settler colonialism.”Their findings counter a common narrative communicated by the RCMP when responding to Indigenous land defence actions — that the federal police respect people’s right to protest and only act in the interests of public safety.As part of their research Monaghan and Crosby uncovered previously classified documents on the Unist’ot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, some of […]

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