Eight Indigenous water protectors and allies opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline to go on trial this month
We will be following via social media the two trials this month of eight Indigenous water protectors and allies who were arrested in October 2020.
Those arrested on October 15, 2020, at a water ceremony, are scheduled to be on trial starting today, December 5, while those arrested on October 17, 2020, at a women’s haircutting ceremony, are expected to be on trial from December 12-16.
As noted below, “The prosecution is seeking 14-28 days in jail.”
As posted on Facebook via We, the Secwepemc: Virtual Unity Camp to stop Transmountain Pipeline:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
With No Proof of Deed or Jurisdiction: Canadian TMX Pipeline Attempts to Incarcerate Indigenous Mothers and Allies as First Day of Trial Begins
On Monday, December 5th, Indigenous water protectors and allies will be forced to appear in court as the first of two trials concerning the Canadian TMX pipeline begins tomorrow. It’s been over 2 years since Secwepemc Hereditary leaders and allies witnessing active acts of genocide were violently arrested while in ceremony on unceded Secwepemc Territory.
Despite having no clear jurisdiction in Secwepemc Nation, RCMP attended a Water Ceremony on October 15th 2020 at the Thompson River and immediately began threatening arrest without making any attendees aware of the injunction. Hereditary Chief Saw-ses attempted to exit the arrest zone and was forced by RCMP officers to stay. He was arrested despite his Elder Hereditary status and heart condition, denied medication and released without notification to his family late at night in downtown Kamloops. Billie Pierre, a Nlaka’pamux mother was sexually assaulted while in ceremony on the same day by a group of all male officers. On October 17th, Miranda Dick, Heather Lameroux, Laura Zadorozny and Susan Bibbings were violently arrested while conducting a Woman’s Hair Cutting Ceremony before sunrise by a team of all male RCMP officers.
Miranda Dick. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna/IndigiNews.
There are a number of legal issues with the trial:
- The amount of time passed between arrest and trial is already well over the Canadian legal limit for unreasonable delay.
- The trial is taking place in provincial courts despite there being no treaties granting their jurisdiction in Secwepemc Nation and having no deed to the land.
- A Nation to Nation relationship already exists with the federal government who has also bought the pipeline which prima facie, is a conflict of interest while the Canadian Federal Government still holds land and resources in trust for Indigenous People.
- The court can’t conclusively decide whether the charges are civil or criminal even as trial goes ahead.
- Indigenous title is held collectively by the People of the Nation and includes all traditional territory. The court relies on agreements signed between elected Chief and Councils formed by the Indian Act and the federally owned TMX pipeline, agreements that only apply to reserve land and not the territory at large.
- Hereditary Chief Saw-ses attempted to exit the qualified injunction zone and was forced by RCMP to stay and be arrested despite his Elder Hereditary status and heart condition, he was denied medication and released without notification to his family late at night in downtown Kamloops.
- Judge Fitzpatrick has already admitted that there has been a violent difference between arrests of Indigenous People and non-Indigenous People.
The Secwepemc Nation has not been consulted and has never given consent for the Canadian Federal Government’s Transmountain Pipeline to proceed and cross waterways, endangering future generations protected by Secwepemc Law. The Shuswap-Okanagan Confederacy is a law older than Canada and signed between two sovereign allied nations, the Secwepemc and the Okanagan and clearly states that the land and the water belongs to the future and can never be signed away, ceded, surrendered or sold.
Canada’s TMX pipeline has violated Secwepemc Law at every turn, building man camps that are actively endangering Secwepemc women, endangering clean water, damaging and destroying pit house sites and other heritage sites, laying plastic matting to deter salmon from their own spawning streams and more. The onus falls to Canada now to prove they have any jurisdiction to build a pipeline through another sovereign Nation, something this country has been unable to do since its inception.
Miranda Dick 236 586 5182
April Thomas 778 267 6619
Anushka Azadi 403 999 9220
“So I am just one person but I am speaking for all Secwepemc Nation. It’s not just me. I have 22,000 people that I am speaking for, on behalf of them. Because not everyone is for the pipeline. We know DIA (Department of Indian Affairs) Chiefs have signed deal with them but there is no consent from the people from the elders or the children. The DIA chiefs don’t have the authority to sign over the land, the air, the water, the people the don’t have the authority to sign those over. So we’re standing here today as Secwepemc people for our rights and our title of our land. Because this is unceded Secwepemc Territory and here we are on unceded Coast Salish Territory, and we have to recognize that. Because we didn’t sign treaties here. All of BC doesn’t have treaties. So I am standing here as a Secwepemc mother, as a land defender, as a water protector and thank you all so much for being here. It means a lot. Sometimes it feels like we are all alone but standing here today I feel really powerful. I have a lot of support here, a lot of family, so Kukstemc thank you.” – Gwa T’selletkwe
And as posted on gofundme at Protect Sqeq’petsin Stop TMX – Trial Support:
We are asking for support for our continued court proceedings that have dragged on for two years after our arrests on October 15 and 17th 2020. Our next trial dates are Oct 3-7th and Dec 12-16th 2022.
The support will cover gas, food and lawyer consultation. We are extremely grateful for the support that we have received to date. We have had over 15 court dates in the past two years, six adjournments and have presented a stay of charges application which was denied. This has left us in need of more funds to prepare our defenses and travel to and from court.
USE OF FUNDS:
6 vehicles @ 300 = 1800/week x 2 weeks = $3600
600/meals each week x 2 weals = $1200
The eight water defenders arrested on Oct 15 and 17 at the TMX drill sites are being charged with criminal contempt of court for breeching a colonial injunction with no jurisdiction on unceded Indigenous land. The prosecution is seeking 14-28 days in jail.
April Thomas and Miranda Dick have demanded a third party adjudication to ensure that the colonial government was not infringing upon the rights of the land defenders. This demand was made on the grounds of the colonial government purchase of the TMX pipeline expansion project. This is a direct conflict of interest as the crown acts as judge and prosecution.
Kukstemc to those in advance for supporting. Your witness, prayers, art and time are seen, appreciated and keep us strong. We have defeated projects like these before. Together we can do it again.
SUMMARY OF OUR TRIAL TO DATE
Oct 15 and 17, 2020: Eight arrests in Kamloops
Jan 20, 2021: First in person Court Appearance – Vancouver
Mar 1, 2021: Second Court Appearance – Vancouver
April Thomas and Miranda Dick demanded a third party adjudication to ensure that the rights of the land defenders were not being infringed upon by the colonial government. This demand was made on the grounds of the colonial government’s purchase of the TMX pipeline expansion project. This is a direct conflict of interest as the crown acts as judge and prosecution. Crown decides the charges are criminal contempt of court.
Mar 15, 2021: Third Court Appearance – Kamloops
Trial Dates were set for a trial in Kamloops
July 30, 2021: Call in for adjournment due to fires and lack of disclosure
August 3-13th: First two trial dates that were adjourned
October 2021: Disclosure is received in spite of the document stating the Kamloops RCMP submitted in Nov 27, 2020
Dec 9 2021: Prosecution requests Adjournment. Neil Wiberg’s friend passed away and floods washed out roadways and highways to Kamloops.
Dec 13-17 2021: Trial dates adjourned.
Jan 13, 2022: Call in to request an adjournment due to lack of disclosure and COVID restrictions – no adjournment granted.
Jan 17-21 2022: Trial in Kamloops, adjourned on the first day of trial due to April Thomas being sick and unable to attend trial as an agent for several of the co-accused. Also, Romilly Cavanaugh’s mother had suffered a major heart attack and she could not leave Vancouver.
Mar 18 2022: Crown calls for an adjournment due to new disclosure (video/body ca) which must be shared with defendants.
Mar 21-25 2022: Trial dates were adjourned for Miranda Dick, Heather Lamoureaux, Laura Zadorozny and Susan Bibbings.
April 1 2022: Pre-trial Conference scheduled for 9 am.
April 25-29 2022: Trial was adjourned instead we had a Stay of Charges Proceeding which was denied
Oct 3-7th 2022: Oct 15th arrestees trial
Dec 12-16th 2022: Oct 17th arrestees trial
Secwepemc Say No TMX: This group was created to bring voices to Say No to The TMX Trans Mountain Pipeline and for our voices to Be Heard. This affects everyone downstream. Asking Tough questions such as What is in the Impact Benefits Agreement? Who is responsible for cleaning up if and when a spill happens? Accountability and Transparency. Where’s the Deed? Asserting Secwepemc duty to the land and responsibility to Salmon, Clean Water, and our Watershed protection.
What youth should know when being called to the frontlines (IndigiNews, March 15, 2022)
Cases involving Trans Mountain protesters to go to trial in January and March (Kamloops This Week, January 6, 2022)
Secwépemc Matriarch cuts off her hair in defense of her lands and waters (APTN, October 24, 2020)