Secwepemc land defender Kanahus Manuel criminalized as she defends her ancestral territory from Canadian-owned tar sands pipeline

Published by Brent Patterson on

Indigenous land defenders are criminalized around the world for their defence of ancestral territories against dispossession and extractivism. Front Line Defenders has reported that 69 per cent of the 331 human rights defenders killed last year were working on land, indigenous peoples’ and environmental rights.

In the context of the Secwepemc struggle against an extractivist megaproject, land defender Kanahus Manuel has posted: “We are facing political and cultural persecution and facing fabricated, bogus politically motivated criminal charges at the hands of Canada, the crown and Trans Mountain TMX pipelines (which is crown-owned).”

Trans Mountain pipeline lacks Secwepemc consent

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX) is an 890,000 barrel per day, 1,147-kilometre pipeline that would cross Indigenous territories from Alberta to the British Columbia coast. Almost half the length of the pipeline – 518 kilometres of it – would cross Secwepemc territory in British Columbia without free, prior and informed consent.

The Canadian government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bought the existing 300,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion in May 2018. It is estimated that the pipeline expansion will cost $12.6 billion.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on Canada “to immediately cease construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project and cancel all permits, until free, prior and informed consent is obtained from all the Secwepemc people, following the full and adequate discharge of the duty to consult.” The Committee also called on Canada to withdraw the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) from the traditional lands of the Secwepemc.

Criminalization of Secwepemc land defender Kanahus Manuel

Kanahus notes: “I have 2 cases I am fighting.”

September 30, 2019

Kanahus and her twin sister Mayuk were arrested on September 30, 2019, at a pumping station near Blue River on Secwepemc territory.

On May 21 of this year, APTN reported: “Two members [Kanahus and Mayuk Manuel] of a group fighting the Trans Mountain Pipeline are guilty of theft and intimidation after a confrontation in 2019, a B.C. provincial court judge decided this week.”

In response, Kanahus tweeted: “In another colonial attempt to criminalize Indigenous Land Defenders Mayuk was found guilty of ‘intimidation’ + me guilty of ‘theft’ w/intimidation charge against me dismissed. But know that we are not guilty we are Freedom Fighters!”

Kanahus adds: “I was found guilty of ‘theft’ for a supposed padlock from the gate of the Trans Mountain pump station, with no physical evidence, witness or video footage (yet there were 3 video cameras rolling did not see me physically take the lock, but I was still charged).”

APTN reports that Kanahus and Mayuk are to be sentenced at a latter date.

October 19, 2019

Then on October 19, 2019, Manuel and Isha Jules were arrested for “bugging” road workers on Highway 5 north of Blue River. They had stopped to tell construction workers they did not have Secwepemc consent to flag in preparation for roadwork.

That trial was scheduled to begin on June 16, but Kanahus has tweeted it was adjourned and rescheduled to December 13-14, 2021.

Kanahus has also tweeted: “Forced to colonial court to defend myself against charge of ‘bugging’ some construction workers / actual charge is mischief / reminder this is the same arrest that left me injured with broken wrist by the arresting rcmp cpl bowden / who I currently have a lawsuit against.”

RCMP assault of Indigenous female land defenders

Kanahus has highlighted: “Because of the violent attack and arrest that the RCMP inflicted on me October 19th, I also have a lawsuit against RCMP Cpl Bowden, the arresting officer. This Lawsuit is very important to make the RCMP accountable to their violence they inflict on Indigenous female land defenders.”

The Yellowhead Institute has tweeted: “RCMP slammed Kanahus to the ground & her arm was seriously injured – she was not taken to hospital for 10 hrs.”

To follow Kanahus Manuel on Twitter, click here.

Tiny House Warriors.

Categories: News Updates

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