PBI-Canada will be watching as three defenders of Wet’suwe’ten territory go on trial, January 8

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Wet’suwet’en land defender Molly Wickham, Gitxsan land defender Shay Lynn Sampson, Haudenosaunee land defender Teka’tsihasere Corey Jocko.

Peace Brigades International-Canada will be following the trial of three land defenders starting on January 8 and concluding on January 19.

CBC has reported: “The trial for Sleydo’ Molly Wickham, Shay Lynn Sampson, and Corey Jocko, who were arrested at [a] blockade [against the Coastal GasLink pipeline] on Nov. 19, 2021, will start Jan. 8 at the B.C. Supreme Court in Smithers, B.C.”

In July 2022, The Narwhal reported: “B.C.’s attorney general will pursue criminal contempt charges against Indigenous land defenders and supporters arrested last November… On July 7, the province’s legal team told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church it would prosecute Sleydo’ Molly Wickham, Shaylynn Sampson (Gitxsan Lax Gibuu Wilp Spookxw), Teka’tsihasere Corey ‘Jayohcee’ Jocko and Hannah Hall.”

On October 30, 2023, Hall pleaded guilty to the charge of criminal contempt for breaking a court order. On November 2, 2023, Justice Michael Tammen sentenced Hall to 225 hours of community service.

For Wickham, Sampson and Jocko, the Narwhal notes: “[This is] the first time land defenders could face prison sentences for their actions [in relation to the Coastal GasLink pipeline].”

Sentencing

The Criminal Code of Canada says: “A court, judge, justice or provincial court judge may deal summarily with a person who is guilty of contempt of court under this section and that person is liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ninety days or to both, and may be ordered to pay the costs that are incident to the service of any process under this Part and to his detention, if any.”

Recent examples of sentencing for violating a court ordered injunction in relation to the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline include Secwépemc hereditary chief Sawses (sentenced to 28 days in jail in February 2023), Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam land defender Will George (sentenced to 28 days in jail in May 2022), and Simon Fraser University (SFU) professor Tim Takaro (sentenced to 30 days in jail in June 2022).

Abolition

We also recall that on November 23, 2021, Gidimt’en Checkpoint posted this video of Sleydo’ speaking after four nights in custody in Houston, Smithers and the Prince George correctional centre. In it she says: “C-IRG and the RCMP need to be abolished. Anybody who is not into prison abolition should be after this experience that we’ve had.”

Video still: Sleydo’ and Sampson arrested at gunpoint on Wet’suwet’en territory by RCMP C-IRG officers, November 19, 2021.

Yintah Access has noted on Instagram this upcoming trial and have asked for donations for Wet’suwet’en Yintah Defence Legal Funds.


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