An access road to British Columbia that had been blocked by indigenous protesters since Sunday was cleared by the RCMP and can now be used to bring water and other supplies to more than 500 pipeline workers, says Coastal GasLink.

Mounties said they arrested 14 people Thursday while enforcing a court order prohibiting protests from blocking the forest service road used by workers at the pipeline construction site in northern British Columbia.

Those arrested were taken to the RCMP detachment in Houston and would be detained to appear before the BC Supreme Court on Friday, police said.

The RCMP has made efforts to facilitate dialogue among stakeholders, including those opposed to the pipeline, “to no avail,” Assistant Commissioner Eric Stubbs said in a statement. “It was no longer possible to delay our efforts to rescue the workers. As such, our law enforcement operation had to proceed immediately.”

Coastal GasLink said in a statement that it had been told the road was not yet secured for public transportation.

The blockade was established on Sunday by members of the Gidimt’en clan, one of five in the Wet’suwet’en nation, cutting off access to more than 500 pipeline workers. The workers had been given eight hours’ notice to leave, the group said in a statement.

Gidimt’en spokesman Sleydo ‘, who also goes by the English name Molly Wickham, said the court-ordered injunction has no authority in her land.

“They are trespassing, violating human rights, violating indigenous rights and, most importantly, they are violating the Wet’suwet’en law,” he said in a video shared online.

However, a statement issued Wednesday by the elected Wet’suwet’en council said the protesters did not consult with them before blocking the road and that their actions “cannot claim to represent Gidimt’en members or any other. in the First Nation. “

The RCMP said in a statement Thursday that it had “serious concerns” with protesters cutting down trees, smashing heavy machinery and damaging the forest service road in an effort to prevent industry and police from passing through.

#RCMP cleared the #protesters from the access road to the BC pipeline job site. #Wetsuweten #CoastalGasLink

The dispute over the 670-kilometer gas pipeline broke out earlier in 2019 and 2020, and protesters who defied the court order were arrested.

Opposition to the pipeline among the hereditary bosses of Wet’suwet’en at the time sparked solidarity demonstrations and rail blockades across Canada last year. The chief-elect and council of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and others in the area had approved the project.

A memorandum of understanding has since been signed between the federal and provincial governments and the hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en, easing tensions so far.

The RCMP said it has established an access control point on Morice Forest Service Road to prevent further escalation of the situation and mitigate security concerns.

Coastal GasLink said in statements throughout this week that it was concerned for its workers, who were at risk of running out of water and other supplies.

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The pipeline that would carry natural gas from Dawson Creek in northeastern British Columbia to Kitimat on the coast is more than half complete with almost the entire route cleared and 200 kilometers of pipeline installed so far, the company said.

– by Brieanna Charlebois in Vancouver

This Canadian Press report was first published on November 18, 2021.

This story was produced with financial assistance from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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