Wet'suwet'en camps again occupied, but Coastal GasLink not impeded: pipeline opponents
Published Sunday, February 16, 2020 9:31AM PST
Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs from left, Rob Alfred, John Ridsdale, centre and Antoinette Austin, who oppose the Coastal Gaslink pipeline take part in a rally in Smithers B.C., on Friday January 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
SMITHERS, B.C. -- Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs say they have returned to camps along a road leading to a work site outside Houston, B.C.
Jen Wickham, a member of the First Nation's Gidimt'en clan, says they went back to the camps where 28 people were arrested when the RCMP enforced an injunction this month.
She says those at the camps are not blocking workers from Coastal GasLink from using the road or accessing the work site, and workers have been freely moving through.
Coastal GasLink and the RCMP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Members of the First Nation say they are maintaining the eviction order served to Coastal GasLink to leave the traditional territories of the Wet'suwet'en.
On Thursday, a feast was held to update Wet'suwet'en members on their plans.
Na'moks, one of five hereditary clan chiefs, says they affirmed at the meeting that the eviction still stands and they want the RCMP to remove an office from the logging road.
“It was a nation meeting to let our nation know we're still here, we're listening to you,” said Na'moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale.
Na'moks, who acts as a spokesman for the First Nation's highest chiefs, was unable to attend as he was visiting a family member in hospital but he said he received regular updates.
He said the RCMP are welcome to continue operating out of their permanent offices in town, but they are not welcome along the logging road.
The RCMP said last week that major operations in the region have concluded and an exclusion zone has been lifted.
The Mounties said their Community Industry Safety Office, which has been operating on the logging road since January 2019, will remain in place and continue “patrols of the corridor to ensure everyone's safety.”
Wickham said pipeline opponents have returned to Unist'ot'en camp, a Gidimt'en camp and a gathering place 27 kilometres down the road but have dismantled a third camp at the 39-kilometre mark along the road that was established to monitor police.
There were also some people who remained at the Unist'ot'en camp and at a chief's cabin along the road during the arrests and they are still there.
She said the RCMP continues to check the identification of anyone who drives past.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2020.