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RCMP expected to enforce injunction order against anti-pipeline protesters
Anti-pipeline protesters in northern B.C. are anticipating police action over an injunction filed against them.
Jennifer Wickham, a member of the Gidimt'en clan of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, said police have gathered in Smithers and Houston, B.C., which are the closest towns to the Gidimt'en checkpoint.
"The RCMP’s ultimatum, to allow TransCanada access to unceded Wet’suwet’en territory or face police invasion, is an act of war," she wrote in an email statement to CTV News.
TransCanada has said it has signed agreements with all First Nations along the pipeline route to LNG Canada's $40 billion liquefied natural gas project in Kitimat, B.C.
But Wickham said the company does not have the authority to build through Wet'suwet'en territory because the house chiefs, who are hereditary chiefs rather than elected band council leaders, have not given consent.
On Dec. 14, 2018, the BC Supreme Court issued an injunction against protesters who interfere with the Coastal GasLink Project, in and around the Morice River Bridge or over the area accessed by the Morice West Forest Service Road.
The RCMP said like other injunction orders, the court issues them and police are given to discretion to determine how and when to enforce them.
Mounties said over the past several months, officers have maintained a dialogue with residents of the Unist'ot'en camp to discuss the possibility of an injunction order being issued.
"We would like to emphasize that the RCMP respects the Wet'suwet'en culture, the connection to the land and traditions being taught and passed on at the camp, and the importance of the camp to healing," the RCMP's E Division said in a statement.
It is unclear when police will move in on the camp.
On Dec. 14, the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs issued a statement saying they were deeply concerned by the National Energy Board's decision denying their request to participate in a jurisdictional challenge to the permits issued to TransCanada's Coastal GasLink pipeline project, which would cross Wet'suwet'en territories.
“Since the beginning, we’ve been opposed,” said Dinï ze' Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) at the time. “We’ve consistently felt that we’ve not been heard. This intervenor application denial by the National Energy Board is yet another example of that, but it does show that we are still submitting our concerns.”
TransCanada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
With files from The Canadian Press