RCMP officers conducted a recent patrol and check of a smokehouse located on a gas pipeline’s right of way on Wet’suwet’en territory. (Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidimt’en Territory Facebook photo)

RCMP patrol of smokehouse sparks concerns by Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader

Hereditary Chief Woos says he is feeling uneasy after RCMP attended the smokehouse with rifles

A shed located on Wet’suwet’en territory to cure food by smoking it has caught the attention of RCMP.

On Monday, June 29, members of the Facebook group, Wet’suwet’en Access Point Gidimt’en Territory, posted images of police armed with rifles conducting foot patrols near a smokehouse located at the headwaters of the Wedzin Kwah (Morice River) on June 10 and June 18.

Chief Woos, also known as Frank Alec, said he was disappointed and uneasy with the weapons police carried.

North District RCMP media relations Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said police are aware that their actions are being monitored and captured on camera.

Read More: Wet’suwet’en and Coastal GasLink full statements on eviction from Houston work site

“The photos being circulated online relate to recent patrols and the check of a newly constructed building which is on the pipeline’s right of way, and is therefore in breach of the B.C .Supreme Court injunction order,” she told Black Press Media on Monday (June 29) in an email.

“We understand that Coastal GasLink has posted a notice on the building advising of this breach.”

Woos said the Gidimt’en camp, located at kilometre 44, is no longer a called a camp but a revitalization of their occupancy showcasing their cultural and traditional ways for their youth, as well as Wet’suwet’en and non-Wet’suwet’en people.

“I don’t know what kind of tactics they are up to but we’re carrying out our traditions. Our traditional stronghold out there is basically what we’re doing.”

Saunderson said officers in the photos are members of the Quick Response Team (QRT), which is a group of RCMP officers from throughout the province, who receive training in both cultural awareness and injunction law, and may be deployed anywhere in B.C. to support operational needs.

Read More: A first look at the land title memorandum between Wet’suwet’en, B.C. and Canada

“While the Community-Industry Safety Office (C-ISO) remains closed at the Morice West Forest Service Road, the officers who are assigned there (QRT) are now working from the Houston Detachment and continue to conduct regular patrols along the forestry road and daily checks of the C-ISO facility,” Saunderson said.

Gidimt’en Camp media coordinator, Jennifer Wickham, confirmed a letter posted outside of the smokehouse on June 18 by Coastal GasLink workers suggested the smokehouse be removed, which they will not be doing.

Construction on the structure commenced last year, and Woos said they hope to have it completed by mid-August, before fish come up the river.

He said the smokehouse is located in a spot used by their ancestors, and where other nations and clans would gather to trade and exchange their harvest.

“Right now I’m at the age where I’m just going to start teaching the youngsters on what they need to do and what they need to be aware of.”

Despite project support from Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs and multiple First Nations along the 670-kilometre pipeline route, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs remain opposed to the project.

Read More: Wet’suwet’en pipeline supporters speak up

Saunderson emphasized that the Morice West Forest Service Road remains open to all motorists.

“We continue to check in with the local Indigenous leaders on a weekly basis to discuss any issues or concerns.”

Coastal GasLink communications team lead Suzanne Wilton said authorized and permitted activities across the route are ongoing, including pre-construction survey work south of Houston.

“We cannot speak to the action of the RCMP, who carry out their activities independently of Coastal GasLink,” she stated.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkFirst Nations

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

Just Posted

Nimpkish sold as Northern Sea Wolf resumes central coast route

The sale of the Nimpkish was official as of Sept. 20, 2020

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

Williams Lake First Nation inks historic cannabis deal with B.C. government

The agreement paves the way for WLFN to sell cannabis to the government, and open stores across B.C.

Cariboo’s Strongest tests athletes’ mettle

Twenty men and three women took part

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Heiltsuk First Nation calling on DFO to close fish farms, citing wild salmon extinction risk

Wild salmon returns have broken low records, have many concerned about future of wild fish

Attorney General of Canada defends Kelowna Mountie involved in rough arrest

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak in June of this year

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Most Read