Terrace Standard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline opponents are back at the site of a blockade near Houston in northwest B.C., a month after it was cleared by the RCMP on Nov. 19 and following the arrest of 29 people.
In a statement issued on Sunday morning (Dec. 19), the Wet’suwet’en Gidimt’en Checkpoint group, which is at the forefront of the opposition, announced they have once again evicted CGL workers from the key pipeline drill site near Wedzin Kwa (the Morice River).
Last month, On Nov. 14, the group set up a blockade on the Morice Forest Service Road and established a resistance camp known as ‘Coyote Camp’ in an attempt to stop CGL from drilling under the river citing environmental and cultural concerns.
Yesterday the group also announced they have “reoccupied” the “Coyote Camp,” after it was dismantled by the RCMP in a series of raids conducted between Nov. 17 and 19.
The action on Dec. 19, followed the 24th anniversary of the 1997 Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa court ruling, which established that Indigenous title has never been extinguished across 58,000 square kilometres of Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan lands, the group said.
“Coastal GasLink does not and will never have the consent of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary governance system and should expect that Wet’suwet’en law will prevail on our lands. No amount of state violence against us will make us forget our responsibility to protect the water for all future generations,” said Sleydo’ (Molly Wickam), spokesperson for the Gidimt’en Checkpoint.
Last month, Sleydo’, a key leader in the pipeline opposition, was among those arrested on site by RCMP for violation of a B.C. Supreme Court injunction obtained by CGL.
She and the others arrested were released on conditions on Nov. 23 and told by the court to not be within 75 metres of any CGL worksites. It is unclear as to whether Sleydo’ is back on site at the Coyote Camp.
CGL claimed a group of approximately 10-12 camouflaged and masked opponents took over the site and threatened the company’s security officials with violence.
“The security officials subsequently left the site for fear of their safety and RCMP have been notified of these illegal activities,” said CGL in a Dec. 20 statement, and added that the company is increasingly concerned about the safety of its workers and the public owing to the escalation of the opposition activities.
The RCMP said they are investigating the incident after they were called to the site on Dec. 19 but did not confirm if protesters still remain at Coyote Camp.
In a statement, the police said a group of protesters allegedly threatened Coastal GasLink security officials, damaged trucks and fired flares and bear bangers at security officials.
“Any persons found blockading or impeding workers’ access to the area are in breach of the injunction and may be subject to arrest,” said Cpl. Madonna Saunderson, RCMP spokesperson for North District.
Officers will also continue their roving patrols of the area to ensure everyone’s safety and the roads remain unobstructed and accessible, added Saunderson.