Chief Gisday’wa with the remains of a structure alongside the Morice Forest Service Road burned in an arson fire overnight from Aug. 14 to Aug. 15. Two suspects have now been identified. (Gidimt’en Clan photo)

RCMP eye two suspects in alleged arson targeting Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief’s cabin

Structure, material destroyed in fire from the weekend, Gidimt’en Clan calls it a ‘hate crime’

Two men have been identified as suspects in a weekend fire that destroyed a Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief’s cabin on Morice Forest Service Road.

Houston RCMP said the the suspected arson happened overnight between Friday (Aug. 14) and Saturday. According to a Gidimt’en spokesperson, the cabin belonged to Chief Gisday’wa (Fred Tom) and had served as part of a cultural meeting place.

The fire was still burning when Gisday’wa, of the Gidimt’en Clan, arrived at the site after 9 a.m. that morning. In a statement, he called the arson an “absolutely racist” act, and the Gidimt’en called it a “hate crime.”

The Gidimt’en Checkpoint is located outside of Houston, B.C., and is along the route that Coastal GasLink workers take to work on the controversial natural gas pipeline, which sparked nationwide rail blockades in support of Wet’suwet’en opposing the pipeline last year. The destroyed cabin figured prominently as a checkpoint of the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en during protests connected to pipeline construction earlier this year.

Mounties, who maintain a presence in the area as a result of tensions between the Wet’suwet’en and Coastal GasLink, there was also evidence of a stolen vehicle on the scene. The two suspects are 19-year-old and 24-year-old men from Burns Lake who work in the Houston area.

“This is a priority for the detachment and could have ended tragically had there been anyone in the building,” said Sgt. Mark Smaill.

“The area appeared to have been unoccupied at the time of the fire and no one was located at the scene. The Forensic Identification Section was also called to the scene to process any evidence gathered in the area,” said RCMP Corporal Madonna Saunderson.

The investigation continues and information will be provided to the B.C. Prosecution Service regarding potential charges, Saunderson added.

READ MORE: Complaints of checkpoint ‘debris’ spark controversy

IndigenousRCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A case of COVID has been detected within School District 33. (School District 33 photo)
UPDATE: Case of COVID confirmed at a Chilliwack school

Fraser Health has not informed parents but district sent letter to parents Friday

Record-low returns of salmon have been recorded on the Fraser River in recent years. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
Time for Indigenous-led salmon strategy on the Lower Fraser, says Alliance

‘Closures of First Nations, commercial and recreational salmon fishing’ have huge impact: LFFA

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region over the last week.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
CHARTS: Weekly COVID-19 case counts continue to rise in Fraser Valley

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region.

The City of Chilliwack says there’s too much spitting going on at the Sardis Sports Complex. (City of Chilliwack photo)
Too much spitting a problem at Chilliwack’s Sardis Sports Complex

The City of Chilliwack is asking the minor hockey community to ease up on expectorating

The Excelsior 4 are set to make their second court appearance in Abbotsford on Monday (Nov. 2). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
‘Excelsior 4’ making second Abbotsford court appearance on Monday

Animal rights activists expected to plead not guilty to charges, protest for Vancouver scheduled

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. (File photo)
Hay bales can be donated to Critter Care Wildlife Society. (Critter Care/Special to The Star)
Straw bales used for Halloween decor can be donated to Critter Care Wildlife Society

Langley animal facility said they are always need in of fresh bedding

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Most Read