Wet’suwet’en Protest Hits Minister of Indigenous Services Office

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Protesters left a message for Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu
Protesters left a message for Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu

Thunder Bay – NEWS – There have been some very public protests across Canada in support of the people of Wet’suwet’en. Here in Thunder Bay there was a group over the past few days who gathered outside of Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu’s office.

There was also posters plastered on the windows of her office on Red River Road over the weekend.

The Minister in a statement says, “The right to peaceful protest is a foundation of our Charter rights in Canada. I welcome this conversation within our community of Thunder Bay, and I am hopeful that dialogue can resume between the elected and hereditary Chiefs, the provincial government of British Columbia, and the owners of Coastal GasLink, for a resolution that recognizes Indigenous sovereignty and title rights.”

Trains and roadways across the country have been blocked over the weekend as supporters have called for the RCMP to halt their actions.

RCMP on scene in Wet'suwet'en
RCMP on scene in Wet’suwet’en – Image TWITTER

Statement by RCMP in BC

Police enforcement of the injunction order granted to Coastal GasLink began earlier this morning, on Thursday, November 18, 2021 in an effort to rescue hundreds of workers who have been blocked in their camp by contemnors.

On arrival at the 44 kilometre mark of the Morice Forest Service Road, officers discovered considerable damage had been done to the Lamprey Creek Bridge with both ends and the footings dug out. An overturned vehicle covered in debris and concrete had been placed at the east side of the bridge, and a bulldozer was partially buried in a dug out trench at the west side of the bridge. A decommissioned excavator was also blocking the road beyond the west side of the bridge.

After an assessment of the bridge, it was deemed structurally safe for passage and the police team proceeded through.

Police encountered two elderly individuals who advised they were having medical concerns related to heart issues. They were assessed by on-site Emergency Health Services, who transported them out of the area as a precaution.

One vehicle was lit on fire and one decommissioned excavator was placed at the 62 kilometre mark of the Morice Forest Service Road. Those have been cleared off the roadway, which was opened to CGL who were able to provide relief supply to their workers.

A total of 14 individuals were arrested today for breaching the injunction. They were transported to the Houston RCMP Detachment for processing and will be held in custody to appear before the BC Supreme Court tomorrow on Friday, November 19, 2021.

Today’s enforcement was dictated by the actions taken by protesters that blocked the Morice River Forest Service Road that jeopardized the safety and wellness of hundreds of people whose provisions were at critical levels, says Assistant Commissioner Eric Stubbs, Officer in Charge of Criminal Operations – Core Policing. We have made significant efforts to facilitate meaningful dialogue between all stakeholders, and specifically with the group opposing this pipeline project, to no avail. It was no longer possible to delay our efforts to rescue the workers. As such, our enforcement operation had to proceed immediately.

There are a number of allegations circulating online that the RCMP are preventing food and medical supplies to be brought in to the Healing Centre or to individuals at the various protest camps established in the corridor, and that we are not permitting Hereditary Chiefs and Elders to cross the Access Control Point (ACP) at the 27.5 kilometre mark of the Morice Forest Service Road. These claims are completely false. Medical supplies and food items can be dropped off at the Access Control Point and individuals may arrange for them to be picked up by others already on the other side of the ACP. Anyone wishing to travel through the ACP will be assessed based on their requirement, and at the discretion of the officers stationed at the ACP in consultation with the commanders in charge of the operation as well as the Division Liaison Team.

Police officers are also being accused of using excessive force in the process of arresting individuals, and that attack police dogs were used. These claims are also false. We can confirm that the Emergency Response Team and Police Service Dog are deployed to assist with the operation but are only in an observation capacity. As with other enforcement operations, all our actions are documented, including the use of body worn cameras, for court or complaint purposes.

Moving forward, police resources will be in the area to ensure that the roads remain accessible and unobstructed.