After two days of court hearings, everyone arrested at the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline construction site in northwest B.C. have been released.
Last week, the RCMP arrested 29 people from the site near Houston, while enforcing an injunction order for CGL and clearing blockades set up by a Wet’suwet’en group and their supporters. Among those arrested were Gidimt’en Checkpoint’s key leader Sleydo’ (Molly Wickham ) and two journalists.
Some arrested, including the journalists, were released on Nov. 22, with conditions to comply with the injunction. All are expected to reappear in court on Feb. 14.
While non-Wet’sutwet’en members were told to stay out of the injunction zones, those who are Wet’suwet’en can return to hunt, fish, trap and conduct cultural practices. The journalists can return for their work, but were told to be mindful of the injunction and keep the peace.
Sleydo’, who was among the last to be released (on Nov. 23, with similar conditions), was told not to be within 75 metres of any CGL worksites, as opposed to 10 metres for all others arrested).
Even though CGL’s lawyer pleaded to bar Sleydo from returning to the area given past instances where she breached injunction orders, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church said the “blanket exclusion” would prevent her from exercising her constitutionally protected Indigenous rights in those areas.
Church also warned Sleydo’ that violating the conditions of her release would lead to stricter orders in the future.
Upon release, Sleydo’ said in a Facebook video statement, “This injunction has no jurisdiction on our territories, [it is] an inadequate piece of law that has been been used to violate human rights, to violate Indigenous rights, to violate Wet’suwet’en law. It’s not something that should be used when there’s issues of Indigenous land and Indigenous law in dispute with the so-called Canada and the Crown.”
She also said she was removed from her territory “illegally” and called everything that happened since their arrest on Nov. 19 a violation of human rights.
“It was a violation of our human rights, and violation of me as a Wet’suwet’en woman,” she said in the video uploaded by Gidimt’en Checkpoint.