Secwepemc Hereditary Matriarch Miranda Dick among those arrested at ceremonies resisting Trans Mountain pipeline

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Photo (left to right): Heather Lamoureux, Billie Pierre, April Thomas, Miranda Dick, Saw-ses, Susan Bibbings, Romilly Cavanaugh, Laura Zadorozny.

On February 22, six land defenders were sentenced for their peaceful resistance to the Government of Canada-owned Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline (TMX) by Judge Shelley Fitzpatrick at the Kamloops Court House.

Two more land defenders will be sentenced in early-May.

The eight land defenders were arrested during two ceremonies, the first on October 15, 2020, the other on October 17, 2020.

Secwepemc Hereditary Matriarch Miranda Dick and her father Hereditary Chief Saw-ses (Henry Sauls) were sentenced to 28 days in jail.

Kamloops This Week reports: “Dick was led away in handcuffs Wednesday (Feb. 22) after receiving a 28-day jail sentence from B.C. Supreme Court justice Shelley Fitzpatrick.”

Dick was sent to prison in Maple Ridge.

Water and Women’s Hair Cutting ceremonies

Saw-ses, Romilly Cavanaugh, April Thomas and Billie Pierre were arrested by the RCMP on October 15, 2020, during a Water Ceremony after a sacred fire was lit on Sqeq’petsin (Missions Flat) to stop TMX from drilling underneath the Secwépemcetkwe (Thompson River).

Photo: Sacred fire a Sqeq’petsin TMX camp. Photo by Karissa Chandrakate/ Spring magazine.

Dick, Laura Zadorozny, Heather Lamoreaux and Susan Bibbings were arrested by the RCMP on October 17, 2020, while conducting a Women’s Hair Cutting Ceremony.

Photo: Secwepemc Matriarch Miranda Dick handcuffed by RCMP officers at Women’s Haircutting Ceremony, October 17, 2020. Photo by We, the Secwepemc Facebook.

APTN adds: “RCMP officers watched Dick cut off her hair. Whether or not they understood the significance of her actions didn’t matter, she says. RCMP arrested Dick and three others moments after her hair was cut.” reported last December: “B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick ruled Friday [December 16] that the four [Dick, Zadorozny, Lamoreaux and Bibbings] were guilty of criminal contempt for violating the terms of a 2018 injunction — a court order that laid out a five-metre buffer zone around all Trans Mountain work sites in B.C.”


For the Water Ceremony, Saw-ses was sentenced to 28 days in jail, while Cavanaugh was sentenced to 32 days. The sentencing for Thomas and Pierre is set for May 1-3.

For the Women’s Hair Cutting Ceremony, Dick, Zadorozny, and Bibbings were sentenced to 28 days, while Lamoreaux was sentenced to 29 days.

Photo: Secwepemc Matriarch Miranda Dick outside the Kamloops courthouse during her sentencing hearing, February 21, 2023. Photo by Aaron Hemens/ IndigiNews.

IndigiNews has reported: “Saw-ses and his defence lawyer, Benjamin Isitt, had submitted to the court that his decade at KIRS [Kamloops Indian Residential School] be considered during his sentencing.”

Isitt said: “The overall sentence of 28 days jail for a survivor of the KIRS — and all of the time, the years of time, that Saw-ses already served for no crime at all — we do think that should’ve been applied as a credit against any sentence imposed for the contempt of court.”

Isitt also noted that Bibbings had planted 215 trees in commemoration of the children found in a mass grave at the school through ground-penetrating radar.

Fitzpatrick’s reply of “potential” (suggesting she meant children had only potentially been found) prompted outrage from those in the courtroom.

Photo: Madam Justice Shelley Colleen Fitzpatrick, British Columbia Supreme Court.

19 days in jail

On March 12, Lamoureux, Bibbings and Zadorozny were released after serving 19 days in jail (two-thirds of their sentence).


Dick, Saw-ses and Cavanaugh are all out on appeal.

Kamloops This Week also reports: “Two days into her sentence, Dick’s lawyer Benjamin Isitt told KTW she has appealed on the grounds that her right to a fair trial was breached by ‘procedural irregularities’ and that the judge failed to apply Gladue factors. Gladue factors involve pre-sentencing reports that speak to aboriginal factors in sentencing.”

A Secwepemc media release further notes: “Fitzpatrick has presided over TMX pipeline cases since 2019 and has incarcerated a long list of Indigenous Nation members and supporters on unceded territory since. The appeal will seek to not only challenge today’s sentencing decision but the unfair and unjust sentences that have been the bread and butter of Fitzpatrick’s long and storied career protecting corporate interests against the health and well being of Indigenous and Black communities (see Northern Pulp Pictou Mill decision).”

United Nations

At this time we also recall that the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has sent three letters to the Government of Canada calling on it to stop construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline on Secwepemc territory.

The most recent letter, dated April 29, 2022, states: “According to the information before the Committee, the Governments of Canada and of the Province of British Columbia have escalated their use of force, surveillance, and criminalization of land defenders and peaceful protesters to intimidate, remove and forcibly evict Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en Nations from their traditional lands, in particular by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Community-Industry Response Group (CIRG), and private security firms.”

For additional updates, please see the Facebook page: We, the Secwepemc: Virtual Unity Camp to stop Transmountain Pipeline.

Photo: Outside the courthouse, February 24, 2023. Photo by We, the Secwepemc: Virtual Unity Camp to stop Transmountain Pipeline.

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