RCMP officers conducted a recent patrol and check of a smokehouse located on a gas pipeline’s right of way on Wet’suwet’en territory. (Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidimt’en Territory Facebook photo)

RCMP patrol of smokehouse sparks concerns by Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader

Hereditary Chief Woos says he is feeling uneasy after RCMP attended the smokehouse with rifles

A shed located on Wet’suwet’en territory to cure food by smoking it has caught the attention of RCMP.

On Monday, June 29, members of the Facebook group, Wet’suwet’en Access Point Gidimt’en Territory, posted images of police armed with rifles conducting foot patrols near a smokehouse located at the headwaters of the Wedzin Kwah (Morice River) on June 10 and June 18.

Chief Woos, also known as Frank Alec, said he was disappointed and uneasy with the weapons police carried.

North District RCMP media relations Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said police are aware that their actions are being monitored and captured on camera.

Read More: Wet’suwet’en and Coastal GasLink full statements on eviction from Houston work site

“The photos being circulated online relate to recent patrols and the check of a newly constructed building which is on the pipeline’s right of way, and is therefore in breach of the B.C .Supreme Court injunction order,” she told Black Press Media on Monday (June 29) in an email.

“We understand that Coastal GasLink has posted a notice on the building advising of this breach.”

Woos said the Gidimt’en camp, located at kilometre 44, is no longer a called a camp but a revitalization of their occupancy showcasing their cultural and traditional ways for their youth, as well as Wet’suwet’en and non-Wet’suwet’en people.

“I don’t know what kind of tactics they are up to but we’re carrying out our traditions. Our traditional stronghold out there is basically what we’re doing.”

Saunderson said officers in the photos are members of the Quick Response Team (QRT), which is a group of RCMP officers from throughout the province, who receive training in both cultural awareness and injunction law, and may be deployed anywhere in B.C. to support operational needs.

Read More: A first look at the land title memorandum between Wet’suwet’en, B.C. and Canada

“While the Community-Industry Safety Office (C-ISO) remains closed at the Morice West Forest Service Road, the officers who are assigned there (QRT) are now working from the Houston Detachment and continue to conduct regular patrols along the forestry road and daily checks of the C-ISO facility,” Saunderson said.

Gidimt’en Camp media coordinator, Jennifer Wickham, confirmed a letter posted outside of the smokehouse on June 18 by Coastal GasLink workers suggested the smokehouse be removed, which they will not be doing.

Construction on the structure commenced last year, and Woos said they hope to have it completed by mid-August, before fish come up the river.

He said the smokehouse is located in a spot used by their ancestors, and where other nations and clans would gather to trade and exchange their harvest.

“Right now I’m at the age where I’m just going to start teaching the youngsters on what they need to do and what they need to be aware of.”

Despite project support from Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs and multiple First Nations along the 670-kilometre pipeline route, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs remain opposed to the project.

Read More: Wet’suwet’en pipeline supporters speak up

Saunderson emphasized that the Morice West Forest Service Road remains open to all motorists.

“We continue to check in with the local Indigenous leaders on a weekly basis to discuss any issues or concerns.”

Coastal GasLink communications team lead Suzanne Wilton said authorized and permitted activities across the route are ongoing, including pre-construction survey work south of Houston.

“We cannot speak to the action of the RCMP, who carry out their activities independently of Coastal GasLink,” she stated.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkFirst Nations

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

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Child falls down Bridal Veil Falls near Chilliwack, crews on scene

An 11-year-old boy fell over the falls about 25 to 30 feet and has suffered a head injury

Popular retired UFV therapy dog passes away

Mac the Therapy Dog consoled countless students and staff, as well as wildfire victims

Imagination Library Fraser Valley celebrating Christmas in July

Dolly Parton early literacy intiative looking for financial support to help with waitlist

Exercise and cancer to be explored via webinar

UFV’s Dr. Iris Lesser to lead Zoom event for cancer patients and supporters

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Most Read