Mounties are promising they won’t dismantle a 6-year-old pipeline protest camp in Northern BC, despite claims from a prominent First Nations leader police are planning a crackdown.
In a statement the RCMP says it’s impartial, and won’t take down a protest camp set up by the Unist’ot’en (Yoo-nis-to-ten) people near Houston.
Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, says he doesn’t buy it.
“We’ve had direct discussions with the RCMP on a number of occasions; they were very forth coming with their intentions of going into the camp, undertaking arrests.”
Protesters are against three oil and gas projects in the area, including Shell’s TransCanada Coastal GasLink pipeline.
Project Manager Greg Cano (Sano) says crews trying to do field work have been blocked for three years, but after a complaint to the RCMP this week, they were finally able to do their work.
“It’s on essentially a forestry road, which is a public road, in our view itsa public road, in their view it’s their land, so we have a difference of opinion in law.”
He says interactions with the protesters have remained peaceful, so far.
Grand Chief Phillip, says they’ve been told a major police crackdown is imminent.
“Well quite frankly I don’t believe the statement; I think its deliberately misleading. We’ve heard a number of reports that all of the rooms have been taken up in both Burns Lake and Smithers by RCMP personnel.”
The camp, has been there for six years, so Phillip questions why there’s an increased police presence now.
Protesters are blocking access to work sites for projects including the Northern Gateway Pipeline.