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Wet’suwet’en members sue RCMP and Coastal GasLink for alleged harassment and intimidation

Wet'suwet'en members sue RCMP and Coastal GasLink for alleged harassment and intimidation

Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation are suing the RCMP and Coastal GasLink for alleged harassment they claim to have suffered at the hands of police and private security overstepping the boundaries of an injunction guaranteeing the construction of a controversial pipeline.

In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court Wednesday, two elders and one of the leaders of the protests against Coastal GasLink say they’ve been subject to a “relentless campaign of harassment and intimidation” on unceded territory adjacent to a forest road leading to the pipeline worksite.

Janet Williams, Lawrence Bazil and Molly Wickham — known as Sleydo’ — claim the courts gave Coastal GasLink an injunction protecting access through the road, but that order doesn’t allow police to stop Wet’suwet’en people from “using, occupying and residing on their land.”

“There’s quite a stark contrast from enforcing an injunction and being on the territory for a specific legal reason and engaging in the kinds of behaviour that they have 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the last over three months now,” Wickham told the CBC.

“We’re seeking damages from all of these companies for the duress and the psychological harm and the infringement of our right to be on our territory and engage in cultural practices.”

‘It does not impede traffic’

The 32-page notice of civil claim centres on two locations along the remote Morice Forest Service Road — Lamprey Village and the Gidimt’en checkpoint.

The road leads to the site where Coastal GasLink is building a 670-kilometre-long natural gas pipeline spanning from near Dawson Creek in the east to Kitimat in the west.

Sleydo’ Molly Wickham is one of three members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation suing RCMP and Coastal GasLink over alleged harassment they claim they have suffered through police and security officers overstepping the boundaries of an injunction. (Jason Proctor/Zoom)

The company has signed benefit agreements with 20 band councils along the project’s route. But Wet’suwet’en hereditary leadership says band councils do not have authority over land beyond reserve boundaries.

The company obtained injunctions in 2018 and 2019 preventing supporters of the hereditary chiefs from blocking road access to the site.

According to the notice of claim, the Gidimt’en checkpoint was created in December 2018 in a pullout 10 metres to the south of the Morice Forest Service Road as an “important symbol of the Wet’suwet’en resistance to the pipeline…

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