Activists call the RCMP plan to remove the indigenous blockade of B.C. pipeline an "act of war"



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A sign for a blockade post by the Gidimt? Clan of the First Nation of Wet? Suwet? Is shown in this undated leaflet photo posted on the Wet & # 39; suwet? In Access Point on page of Gidumt & # 39; in Territory on Facebook.

HO / The Canadian Press

People who set up checkpoints to block a planned pipeline north of .C. On Sunday, the government asked the RCMP to plan to issue an injunction and refer to a police ultimatum as an "act of war."

In a statement released on Sunday, the Unist'ot en camp said two checkpoints in the region were on high alert after a Saturday meeting between representatives of checkpoints and police.

"Yesterday, members of the RCMP Aboriginal Police Armed with Wettee Chiefs of Wet Surtees indicated that specially trained tactical forces would be deployed to forcefully remove Wet & # 39; suwet & # 39; ; en the sovereign territory of Wet & # 39; suwet & # 39; en, said the statement. said.

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"The RCMP ultimatum, to allow TransCanada access to the territory of Wet & # 39; suwet & # 39; no hit or face police invasion, is an act of war. … Canada is now trying to do what it has always done – to criminalize and use violence against indigenous peoples, so that their unrecorded lands can be exploited for profit, "the statement said.

Both checkpoints – the Uni-Lock and Gidimt checkpoint – are close to Houston, BC, about 620 kilometers northwest of Vancouver, and along of the pipeline route proposed by Coastal GasLink.

Coastal GasLink's $ 6.2 billion project, a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp., would send domestic gas from the northeast of the country. to a liquefied natural gas terminal to be built at Kitimat on the West Coast by LNG Canada, led by Royal Dutch Shell. Coastal GasLink wants to begin construction in January on an 84-kilometer pipe section, near Smithers, B.C.

Jennifer Wickham, a spokeswoman for Gidimt's checkpoint, said Sunday that supporters had seen police personnel and vehicles in Houston and Smithers.

"We're definitely seeing a lot of police activity," Wickham said.

In a statement Sunday, RCMP said it respected the Wet & # 39; suwet & en "culture and acknowledged" the importance of open and direct dialogue between all parties involved in this dispute. "

All 20 indigenous bands elected along the Coastal GasLink route signed project agreements with TransCanada, but a group supported by the top hereditary chiefs of Wet & # 39; suwet & # 39; is still in opposition.

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On December 14, a B.C. The Supreme Court Judge granted a temporary injunction for Coastal GasLink to remove the Unist'ot & # 39; en block.

Instead of removing it, opponents set up a second checkpoint, Gidimt's checkpoint.

The Gidimtans are one of the five clans of the Wet suwet, a First Nation that was part of a historic judicial process, Delgamuukw Vs. British Columbia, on the aboriginal title in the 1990s. This decision confirmed that indigenous peoples have valid claims to ancestral lands that had never been ceded by treaty.

The RCMP statement on Sunday also referred to the 1997 case, saying that "it is our understanding that there was no declaration of aboriginal title" to the area where the Unist'ot & # 8220; en camp is currently located.

"The aboriginal title to this land and which indigenous nation holds it was not determined," the RCMP statement said.

"Regardless of the outcome of any [court action] in the future, the RCMP is the police agency with jurisdiction, "he added.

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The statement does not say when or if the court order will be enforced, saying only that "if enforcement occurs, the RCMP will be prepared to ensure the safety of all involved – demonstrators, police, area residents, drivers, media and general public. "

The RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for additional comments.

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