Unist’ot’en Territory / Houston, BC:
On Nov. 6 an invited guest of the Unist’ot’en people was placed under arrest and removed from Unist’ot’en territory by members of CIRG (Community Industry Response Group). The guest refused to sign release conditions imposed by the RCMP that would deny them access to our territories, and was subsequently released after a discussion between RCMP and Coastal Gaslink.
This arrest continues the ongoing harassment of Wet’suwet’en people and our guests by CIRG, a police detachment which unlawfully occupies, surveils, and harasses Wet’suwet’en people on our own unceded territories at the behest of corporations, their contractors, and subcontractors.
Although RCMP claim to be “unbiased” and “impartial”, they have preemptively surveilled and policed the Wet’suwet’en for the past decade with the political objective of denying Wet’suwet’en sovereignty and undermining constitutionally protected Aboriginal Rights and Title.
CIRG is not present for Wet’suwet’en safety. Arresting officers confirmed that even in the event of serious safety threat, such as an armed attack by racists against the Unist’ot’en, any action to control road access could result in the arrests of the Unist’ot’en and their guests.
RCMP arrested an Unist’ot’en bridge monitor after traffic was stopped in compliance with an agreement made between Unist’ot’en hereditary leaders and Coastal Gaslink, under the interim injunction. Coastal Gaslink has acknowledged and informed RCMP that Unist’ot’en had upheld the mutual agreement, and that no arrest should have been affected. Vehicles that are not compliant with this mutual agreement have routinely been turned around, with no arrests or police involvement.
Yesterday’s RCMP actions were undertaken on behalf of Groot, a regional subcontractor that has historically dispossessed Wet’suwet’en people of their resources without consent or compensation.
The RCMP continue to refer to invited guests of the Wet’suwet’en as “protesters”. The RCMP’s press release issued today is neither factually accurate nor respectful of Wet’suwet’en governance.
Wet’suwet’en governance is not a “protest”.
Over the past year, officers from the CIRG have continually trespassed on Wet’suwet’en territory with a semi-permanent detachment that is staffed 24/7, and have undertaken continued patrols through our territories without consent.
We are deeply troubled by the creation of a police unit which functions as corporate security across unceded Indigenous territories. The CIRG detachment is staffed by officers from around the Province, with no connection to our local community and no concern for outcomes on our territory.
The Unist’ot’en condemn ongoing RCMP surveillance, harassment and intimidation tactics on our unceded territories, and condemn this pointless arrest that merely serves to criminalize Wet’suwet’en territorial stewardship.
The Unist’ot’en Healing Village is not a blockade, a protest, or a demonstration – it is a permanent, non-violent occupation of Unist’ot’en territory, established to protect our homelands from illegal industrial encroachments and to preserve a space for our community to heal from the violence of colonization.
Media contact –
Freda Huson, Spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en