Secwepemc land defender Kanahus Manuel criminalized, arrested at Toronto airport

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo of arresting officers from video posted on Twitter.

On August 27 at around 9 pm, Secwepemc land defender Kanahus Manuel tweeted: “Protesting at the deputy prime minister @cafreeland office and then a couple hours later I am in handcuffed and sitting in jail at Toronto International Airport. I was targeted for being #secwepemc fighting the #transmountain.”

Trans Mountain refers to an 890,000 barrel per day tar sands pipeline expansion project owned by the Canadian government that is currently being constructed in Alberta and British Columbia. 518 kilometres of the pipeline would cross Secwepemc territory in British Columbia without their free, prior and informed consent.

At about 5 pm Manuel tweeted: “RCMP have me at Toronto airport and surrounded.”

According to a tweet from her son Sqelecw, she was held at “the peel regional police station airport division.”

Following her release, Manuel gave an interview to Real Peoples Media.

She said she was arrested for breach of bail conditions, specifically for having a “baton” in her suitcase. Notably, Manuel explains those bail conditions are related to an “intimidation charge” against her that was dismissed in court by Judge Frame on May 21.

Manuel adds: “I just believe that it is a targeted attack against us as land defenders. We are clearly Indigenous people travelling as a group and they targeted me and pulled me out singly. This is all happening while Trans Mountain is invading our home.”

She further notes: “We are going to need some assistance from the people here on the ground and up at Blue River. We need security, we need security for land defenders, that’s where it’s come to at this point. This is a petro-police state. And how they are surrounding everybody when they stand up to oil and gas.”

The day prior to Manuel’s arrest in Toronto, an open letter signed by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Mi’kmaq lawyer Pamela Palmater, Métis artist Christi Belcourt, Mohawk policy analyst Russell Diabo, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’Moks and many others highlighted: “We are deeply concerned about the escalation of intimidation and surveillance of land defenders at the THW [Tiny House Warriors] camp and in particular the many gender-based threats and acts of violence they have experienced both online and in person.”

Given Manuel and the two people with her missed their flight because of this arrest, they are now also seeking mutual aid support for their flight back home.

Manuel’s follow up court date in relation to this charge of breach of conditions will be on November 22 at 9 am at Davis Court in Brampton, Ontario.

Tweet by Christi Belcourt, a well-known Michif (Métis) visual artist.

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