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 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

The Okanagan Regional Library is holding a pair of online contests for its young readers. (File photo)
Okanagan Regional Library challenges young readers

Pair of contests online aimed at kids aged up to 18

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Auldin Maxwell stacks the 693rd block on the top of record-breaking Jenga tower on Nov. 29. (Submitted)
Salmon Arm boy rests world-record attempt on single Jenga brick

Auldin Maxwell, 12, is now officially a Guinness world record holder.

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

A Dodge Ram pickup similar to this one was involved in a hit-and-run in Lake Country on Saturday, Jan. 16. (Crime Stoppers photo)
Stolen truck involved in Okanagan hit-and-run

Incident happened on Highway 97 in Lake Country just before 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Kelowna Fire Department. (FILE)
Early morning downtown Kelowna dumpster fire deemed suspicious

RCMP and the Kelowna Fire Department will conduct investigations into the cause of the blaze

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Most Read