A checkpoint is seen at a bridge leading to the Unist’ot’en camp on a remote logging road near Houston, B.C., on January 17, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Charges will not be laid against the 22 pipeline protesters who were arrested on traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. in February, the BC Prosecution Service has confirmed.

The protesters were arrested between Feb. 6 and 10 near Smithers, sparking solidarity protests across the country.

The prosecution service recommended no charges due to lack of violence during the arrest and lack of evidence linking the arrested protesters to damage at a bridge as the reasons for dropping charges.

They also mentioned ongoing negotiations between hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs and the B.C. government, to which Crown counsel is not privy.

Arrests were made based on an injunction granted to Coastal GasLink, the proponent trying to build a 670-kilometre liquefied natural gas pipeline through from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, running through traditional Wet’suwet’en territory.

Coastal GasLink has also dropped civil charges against the protesters.

READ MORE: 11 arrested in day 3 of injunction enforcement against Wet’suwet’en

Opposition to the pipeline goes back to 2007 when interest in the pipeline route began. A checkpoint at the entrance to the territory was established in 2009, and they constructed buildings on the pipeline route, including the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre which opened in 2015. The centre is used for art programs, language courses, addictions treatment and cultural camps, and some people live there year round.

In December 2018, Coastal GasLink got an injunction against the checkpoint, because workers had been denied access. Unist’ot’en refused to take down a checkpoint – and a second Wet’suwet’en house, Gidimt’en, set up an additional check point. RCMP showed up in January 2019 to enforce the injunction, arresting at least 14 people. Up to 30 solidarity protests happened around the country that month.

Things flared up again in this winter when an injunction was again granted to Coastal GasLink. RCMP established a satellite office near the camp. On Feb. 6 of this year, RCMP began raiding the camps, arresting six people. The next day they arrested four people at a second camp. On Feb. 8 they arrested 11 people, and finally on Feb. 10 they arrested seven more people. Police arrived with dogs, rifles and helicopters to a scene of elderly matriarchs singing around a fire.

Internal documents leaked detailed that the RCMP officers were instructed to “use as much violence toward the gate as you want,” up to and including lethal force. The documents show that RCMP knew Wet’suwet’en protesters had hunting rifles, but said there was “no single threat indicating that [land defenders] will use firearms.”

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

First Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

Participants earlier this year in March for Lakes Loppet at the ski club. (Lakes District News file photo)
How is Omineca Ski Club prepping for this ski season?

Covid restrictions, social distancing but ski season to continue

Tonye Aganaba, the Vancouver-based hip-hop artist will be featured in the next virtual event. (Submitted photo/Lakes District News)
The third LDAC concert and Off the Wall art show is out

The council’s preliminary survey results shows high levels of satisfaction

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks in Georgia Strait

Pod spotted between Comox and Texada Island

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The voting station mimicked a real voting station in Nicole Choi’s classroom at Chilliwack middle school on Oct. 22, 2020, where students had to show their ID (student cards), be checked off a list, and mark a secret ballot behind a screen. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. students choose NDP majority in mock election

More than 90,000 youth took part in school-based election process

Crew transport bus at the Trans Mountain pipeline project work site in Burnaby, March 2020. (Trans Mountain)
Check your workplace COVID-19 safety plans, Dr. Henry urges

Masks in public spaces, distance in lunchrooms for winter

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judgment reserved in Surrey Six slayings appeals

Six men were killed in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

Most Read