WET’SUWET’EN FIRST NATION (NEWS 1130) – The atmosphere is tense and what comes next is uncertain as a northern B.C. First Nation marks one year since the RCMP raided its LNG protest camp.
The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says members have been “defending their sovereign and unceded territories from the impacts of resource extraction projects,” including the liquefied natural gas pipeline, which is set to resume construction over the next several days.
On Dec. 31, 2019, a Prince George judge once again extended an injunction against those occupying their traditional territory, a decision the UBCIC says the Hereditary Chiefs of all five Wet’suwet’en clans reject.
Tuesday marks one year since police forced their way through blockades and checkpoints set up by members of the Wet’suwet’en and arrested more than a dozen people.
Related video: RCMP attend anti-pipeline protest
The anniversary of the violence that was sparked last January comes as protesters prepare to rally at 12 solidarity events across the country this week, and now, Mounties are armed with the possibility to enforce the court order by Friday.
The dramatic scene that ensued in 2019 came after a judge had granted another injunction, and police have denied reports suggesting the RCMP tried to prevent media and the public from reporting on the unfolding situation.
However, new details have emerged, filling in some of the gaps as to what exactly took place on Jan. 7, 2019. Just this past December, a UK-based paper revealed documents showing the RCMP had requested authorization for lethal force and were prepared to use snipers at the standoff one year ago.
What happened drew condemnation from Indigenous leaders and sparked international attention.
Coastal GasLink, formerly TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., is building a $6.2-billion natural gas pipeline that will stretch 670 kilometres from northeastern B.C. to a liquefied natural gas plant in Kitimat.
The company says it has signed agreements with all 20 of the elected First Nations councils along the route, despite Hereditary Chiefs saying the project has no authority without their consent.
Meanwhile, Coastal GasLink says the Unist’ot’en — a smaller group within the Wet’suwet’en First Nation — has said it intends to terminate an agreement that had granted the LNG company access.
— Unist'ot'en Camp (@UnistotenCamp) January 5, 2020
The judge who upheld the injunction on Dec. 31 acknowledged the territory in question remains unceded and no treaty has been signed with Wet’suwet’en.
-With files from The Canadian Press