Despite rebuke from United Nations committee, private security guards and RCMP remain on Wet’suwet’en territory
Photo by Dogwood.
Narwhal local journalism initiative reporter Matt Simmons reports on Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’moks being stopped on Friday November 4 from monitoring construction of the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on his territory.
Excerpts from the article include:
“If you pass this gate, sir, my understanding is that you will be arrested by the RCMP,” a pipeline security guard told the Chief and his supporters.
He was standing in front of a yellow gate across the access road to where the company is drilling under Wedzin Kwa (Morice River) about two kilometres away.
In 2019, the B.C. Supreme Court issued an injunction against anyone “obstructing, blocking, physically impeding or delaying access” in the area.
Na’moks told the security workers why he was there — to monitor the pipeline construction as part of his responsibilities as Chief — and assured them he had no intention of impeding any work. He had previously visited the site numerous times without incident.
“I work for Coastal GasLink and my responsibility is ensuring the safety and security of this active worksite,” the security guard said in response, reading from a prepared script.
He provided his private investigator licence number and said he’s employed by Forsythe Security.
Beside the gate, a sign notes the existence of the court order and states that anyone having notice of it is restrained and prohibited from physical interference with Coastal GasLink business.
It also states that individuals are prohibited from “approaching within 10 metres of any individual or vehicle” being used for pipeline work and from “threatening or intimidating Coastal GasLink or other persons in a contractual or economic relationship with Coastal GasLink.”
However, the court order does not mention “threatening or intimidating” nor proximity to employees or vehicles.
Kris Statnyk, Na’moks’ legal counsel, was standing at the gate with him. He asked to speak with the RCMP, noting the private security workers do not have authority to enforce the court injunction.
After about twenty minutes, Sergeant Jason Charney, with the force’s Community-Industry Response Group, walked toward the gate, but stopped short and waved a security worker over. They spoke briefly and Charney walked away.
The Community-Industry Response Group, commonly called C-IRG, is a special unit of the force set up in 2017 to police opposition to industrial projects.
Video: RCMP Staff Sergeant Jason Charney on Wet’suwet’en territory, October 9, 2021.
The worker told Na’moks to telephone Ken Floyd, a senior C-IRG officer. No number was provided and cell reception is about an hour’s drive away on the snowy backroads.
In April, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued Canada a third rebuke for its conduct on Wet’suwet’en and Secwepemc territories. It named C-IRG specifically and reiterated its call to withdraw police and private security services.”
The full article by Matt Simmons can be read at “You will be arrested’: Coastal GasLink security denies Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief access to monitor project construction.
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