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BC Green Party leader questions RCMP surveillance during recent visit to First Nation's land


The leader of the BC Green Party is questioning the actions of the BC RCMP after a recent trip to Wet'suwet'en territory, and the future site of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Sonia Furstenau says she and a group of roughly 30 people were invited onto Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia to take part in a Peace and Unity Summit in late July.

While there, Furstenau says, she and fellow BC Green Party MLA Adam Olsen paddled with the group along the Morice River, known as Wedzin Kwa, passing a Coastal GasLink worksite.

“It was a truly remarkable experience to spend time on a river thus far that is still undisturbed and you can still – and I can attest to this – drink water straight of this river. It’s extraordinary and amazing,” Furstenau told CTV News in an interview this month.

Several Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline project, unlike many elected band councils along the pipeline’s route.

After crossing into Wet’suwet’en territory along the river, Furstenau says, the group passed a fenced-off work site and a police checkpoint. She says she noticed drones flying overhead, along with security guards.

Then, after finishing dinner at the nearby Unist’ot’en camp, Furstenau said she noticed an RCMP cruiser parked at the edge of the camp.

She said the officers were filming people and the licence plates of cars at the dinner.

“We were there at the invite of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and we were engaged in nothing that should have warranted any kind of police surveillance,” she said.

Olsen shared similar sentiments with CTV News.

“It felt oppressive,” he said. “The presence was there to be felt.”

That same day, one person was arrested after police said a man inside a vehicle blew an air horn towards an officer who was attempting to speak with the driver. Police claim the use of the air horn was an effort to prevent an investigation.

Later that day, police arrested another woman for mischief and assault for kicking at a police car and causing damage, and banging a drum near an officer’s head, respectively. Police later found out the woman who was thought to have kicked the vehicle was not the same person.

CTV News contacted the Ministry of Public Safety for comment, and was directed to the BC RCMP. It confirms it is has roving patrols in the area following a violent incident at the Marten Forest Service Road in February.

Police claim 20 people attacked security guards and damaged vehicles.

“While we cannot comment on any specific incident as we wait to determine if we can verify the allegations, the RCMP continues to have a presence in that Morice River Forest Service Road corridor conducting roving patrols, and so it would not be out of the ordinary to see officers in the area,” wrote Sgt. Chris Manseau of the BC RCMP in an email.

Furstenau suggested while she and Olsen felt under watch for the two days they were there, she believes the surveillance for residents feels constant.

“This kind of approach really is an indication that things are not proceeding in a way that aligns with the declaration of rights of Indigenous peoples act,” she said. Top Stories

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