The lawsuit arises in the context of a dispute between members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and TC Energy over the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Indigenous protesters have notably been arrested in 2021 after occupying the construction site of the gas pipeline, which crosses ancestral lands of the Wet’suwet’en.
The lawsuit responds to what the plaintiffs see as multiple attempts to force people in the community to abandon homes and villages that are on Wet’suwet’en ancestral territory near the route of the pipeline.
The plaintiffs are two community elders, Janet Williams and Lawrence Bazil, and one of the Gidimt’en clan’s main spokespersons, Molly Wickham.
In their lawsuit filed with the court, the plaintiffs note that since February 2022, officers of the RCMP, accompanied by representatives of the Forsythe company, have continuously targeted people in their homes, particularly in the village located at the Gidimt’en checkpoint as well as the Lamprey Creek village. He would have had about 700 different entries from officers of the RCMP at the checkpoint.
Complainant Molly Wickham clarifies that although Coastal GasLink obtained injunctions in 2018 and 2019 against road blockages, these injunctions do not allow police to stop members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation
to use, occupy and inhabit their land.
We hope to prove that they broke their own law in their attempt to remove us from our lands.explains one of the main spokespersons of the Gidimt’en clan, Molly Wickham, also known as Sleydo’.
The prosecution alleges that the police officers of the RCMPAmong other things, they carried out unlawful arrests, demanded that clan guests identify themselves, blocked or even beat visitors, awakened and harassed sleeping residents, forced open doors of residential buildings and followed people traveling on forest roads. .
” When they come to the village, they have no legal authority to do so, they have no right to enter private residences, so it’s something we’ve been asserting from the beginning asking them: ” what is the legal authority that allows you to be here?” »
The members of the clan also denounce the actions of the Forsythe company, hired by Coastal Gaslink to provide security. They say Forsythe deployed employees to provide round-the-clock monitoring of residents and shared the information with the RCMP.
The police tactics used in Gidimt’e territory have no legal basis. They have been unreasonable and excessive, discriminatory on the basis of race, malicious and represent an abuse of police power. They represent an effort to suppress lawful activities and the assertion of indigenous rightscan we read in the notice of civil suit.
Molly Wickham is one of ten protesters currently awaiting a decision from the British Columbia Prosecution Service to file charges for breaching an injunction granted to Coastal GasLink restraining them from obstructing construction of the pipeline.
The Crown has moved to postpone until July 7 the deadline for filing charges against the ten protesters.
In a written statement, the RCMP
an official response through the legal process.
Coastal Gaslink has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit in court.
None of the plaintiffs’ allegations have been proven in court.