After two days of court hearings, all those arrested from the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline construction site in northwest B.C. have been released with conditions.
Last week the RCMP arrested 29 people from the construction site near Houston, while enforcing an injunction order for CGL and clearing up 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, who were in custody until they appeared in court on Nov. 22.
Some of those arrested, including the journalists were released on Nov. 22, with conditions to comply with the injunction. All of them 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 previous injunction and keep the peace.
Sleydo’, who was among one of 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 the others who were arrested).
In the Nov. 23, hearing, Justice Marguerite Church of the Supreme Court of B.C., ordered Sleydo’s release on the condition she appears in court in February.
Even though CGL’s lawyer pleaded to bar Sleydo from returning to the area given past instances where she breached injunction orders, 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.
Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Terrace Standard