Canadian court finds Secwepemc land defenders guilty of disrupting meeting on pipeline being built without consent

Published by Brent Patterson on

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@Weasel_Woman Twitter photo of Snutetkwe, Mayuk and Isha.

On January 5, Secwepemc land defender Mayuk Manuel tweeted that she and Isha Jules were found guilty of mischief and causing a disturbance, while Snutetkwe Manuel was acquitted on the mischief charge, but found guilty of causing a disturbance.

She added that she and Snutetkwe had also been found guilty on assault on a Trans Mountain security lead (former RCMP officer Peter Haring) with Snutetkwe additionally being found guilty of assault against a security guard.

This all relates to the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline being built on Secwepemc territory without their free, prior and informed consent.

In May 2021, the Toronto Star reported: “Nicole Manuel [Mayuk], Chantel Manuel [Snutetkwe] and Isha Jules, members of the Tiny House Warriors, face charges of mischief, causing a disturbance and assault, stemming from a conflict with security and police outside a Dec. 10, 2018, meeting on the campus of Thompson Rivers University.”

“The incident took place at Thompson Rivers University’s Campus Activity Centre, where a closed-door meeting involving Natural Resources Canada, Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci, government officials, Trans Mountain personnel and First Nations leadership was being held.”

That article adds: “The three defendants allegedly rushed the door to the room where the meeting was taking place and, in the process, allegedly assaulted three people.”

This took place in the context of the Federal Court of Appeal having ruled in August 2018 that the Canadian government’s consultation process with Indigenous peoples on Trans Mountain had been inadequate. By October 2018, the Canadian government appointed Iacobucci to lead a new consultation effort on the pipeline.

The Canadian government first approved the pipeline in November 2016. By May 2018 it had purchased Trans Mountain from Kinder Morgan.

Then in June 2019, following Iacobucci’s appointment in October 2018, it approved the construction of the pipeline a second time.

By December 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had called on the Canadian government to stop construction on the pipeline until it had secured consent of the Secwepemc peoples.

In an opening statement for the three defendants in May 2021, lawyer Casey St. Germain stated: “What your honour will see took place on Dec. 10 [2018] was another incident in Canadian history of arresting Indigenous women and men when they resist oppression and resist damage to their lands.”

St. Germain added: “This resistance, we respectfully submit, did not take the form of assault, mischief or causing a disturbance.”

At an initial hearing in November 2020, Kamloops This Week reported: “Defence lawyer Joe Killoran has suggested the altercation was a result of over-policing and a bias among [the RCMP] and security officials. According to Killoran, police and security were convinced the [Tiny House Warriors] were a threat before the confrontation took place.”

Following the verdict, Mayuk tweeted: “STOP CRIMINALIZATION OF Secwepemc. #Secwepemc continue to say no consent for Trans Mountain pipeline to pass through and operate within Secwepemc Territory UNCEDED.”

Prior to this, Mayuk’s twin sister Kanahus, affirmed: “As human rights defenders, we know that as Indigenous people, we have a right to land, and we have a right to self-determination. And that includes homes, and that includes exclusively going and living on our territory without the interference from Canada or the colonial government.”

Sentencing will take place with 2-4 months.

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