Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

RCMP assistant commissioner Eric Stubbs, left, and deputy commissioner Jennifer Strachan attend a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on Feb. 5, 2020, about the enforcement of an injunction where a natural gas pipeline is being built in Northern B.C.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

The RCMP have moved in to enforce a court injunction against protesters who say they are defending the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s traditional territory by opposing the construction of a natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia.

One group that is part of an anti-pipeline campaign, the Unist’ot’en camp, said on its website that RCMP officers had arrested six people early Thursday. Unist’ot’en is affiliated with Dark House, one of 13 Wet’suwet’en hereditary house groups, which in turn fall under five clans.

Supporters of hereditary house groups were “removed from Wet’suwet’en territories in an aggressive pre-dawn raid by RCMP on behalf of Coastal GasLink,” the Unist’ot’en camp said.

Story continues below advertisement

Coastal GasLink’s $6.6-billion pipeline would transport natural gas from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat on the coast, where Royal Dutch Shell PLC-led LNG Canada has started building an $18-billion terminal that is slated to export liquefied natural gas to Asia by early 2025.

About 190 kilometres of the 670-kilometre pipeline route cross the Wet’suwet’en’s traditional territory.

British Columbia and Ottawa support the pipeline, as do all 20 of the elected First Nation councils along the route. But a group led by eight Wet’suwet’en hereditary house chiefs and their supporters are opposed.

The eight house chiefs say Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders, not elected councillors, have jurisdiction over unceded territory outside federal reserves.

The arrests took place just hours after the RCMP held a news conference to say officers would soon be enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that extended an injunction against blockades on a logging road that leads to construction sites for Coastal GasLink’s pipeline project.

In her Dec. 31 ruling, Justice Marguerite Church said there are deep divisions between elected band councillors who support the project and hereditary leaders opposed to the pipeline.

Days later, dozens of trees were cut down along the logging road, preventing contractors from returning to work on a section of the pipeline. Hereditary chiefs said the trees were put across the road for safety reasons.

Story continues below advertisement

The RCMP have been “instructed to use the least amount of force that is reasonable to safely arrest a protester,” RCMP assistant commissioner Eric Stubbs said Wednesday.

On Thursday, the force issued a statement to confirm that police had moved in on the logging road near Houston, B.C., and made six arrests for obstruction.

“There will continue to be a marked increase in police resources in the Houston area, and patrols will be conducted on the ground as well as from the air to monitor the situation beyond the blockade of fallen trees and incendiary materials,” the RCMP said.

Coastal GasLink president David Pfeiffer said he is disappointed that the RCMP had to enforce the court-ordered injunction.

"This is not the outcome we wanted. We have made exceptional efforts to resolve this blockade through engagement and dialogue,” Mr. Pfeiffer said in an open letter posted on Coastal GasLink’s website. “Over the past month and over many years, we’ve reached out to the hereditary chiefs, over and over, but to no avail.”

Coastal GasLink has said that the pipeline project has been unsuccessfully seeking for at least six years to consult with Dark House chief Warner William as well as prominent Dark House member, Freda Huson, including seven failed attempts to meet with her.

Story continues below advertisement

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, criticized the RCMP’s actions. “Indigenous rights are human rights and they cannot be ignored or sidestepped for any reason in the world, and certainly not for an economic interest,” he said in a statement.

On Tuesday night, talks broke down between a provincial delegate, former NDP MP Nathan Cullen, and hereditary chiefs. Mr. Cullen and other officials have tried to help bridge deep rifts, including between hereditary leaders and elected band councillors.

“This is tough slogging. This is a divided community,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said Thursday. “We are continuing to be hopeful that there will be a peaceful resolution and our dialogue with the Wet’suwet’en and other people in the community will continue."

Earlier this week, the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, a non-profit society governed by hereditary chiefs, filed an application in B.C. Supreme Court for a judicial review to challenge the BC Environmental Assessment Office’s permit extension approvals for Coastal GasLink.

The environmental regulator “fails to demonstrate a reasoned chain of analysis that is justified and intelligible,” lawyers for hereditary chiefs said in their 26-page filing.

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies