Protesters were outside the Serious Coffee on Blanshard Street in Victoria Wednesday morning after protesting at the Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources through the night. Twelve protesters were arrested by police during the occupation. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Victoria police arrest 12 anti-pipeline protesters supporting Wet’suwet’en

‘We are unarmed, they have guns,’ protesters chanted on Wednesday morning

Twelve protesters supporting Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs were arrested by members of the Victoria Police Department early Wednesday morning during a lengthy occupation of a provincial government building lobby.

Indigenous youth activists blocked the entrance to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources on Blanshard Street on Tuesday for about 18 hours, starting at 11 a.m. The group was standing in solidarity with hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en First Nation opposing Coastal GasLink, asking that the chiefs’ demands be upheld, observed and respected.

READ MORE: Indigenous LNG supporters chide human rights advocates over pipeline comments

“We are unarmed, they have guns,” protesters yelled the next morning at a meeting outside the Blanshard Street Serious Coffee.

Protesters remained in and around the building overnight Tuesday night and told Victoria News the next morning that there were many arrests between 1 and 6 a.m. They said they were forcefully removed and had wanted only to peacefully occupy the space.

VicPD confirmed that 12 adults were taken into custody after 15 hours of negotiations. They said the arrests were lawful under the Trespass Act.

On Wednesday morning young Indigenous protesters gathered down the street from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources – where 12 participants were arrested by VicPD between 1 and 6 a.m.(Nina Grossman/News Staff)

“Officers worked with both representatives of the protest group and the Province to find a peaceful resolution to the incident,” said VicPD spokesperson Cameron MacIntyre in a statement. “In the course of the evening, additional protesters arrived outside the building. Officers from Patrol, the Community Services Division, Investigative Services Division and the Integrated Crowd Management Unit attended.”

VicPD said plain clothes community liaison officers listened to and spoke with participants while officers “facilitated access to medicine, food, and water. Officers also assisted parents who arrived to pick up youth who were present at the protest.”

Protesters said they were initially denied food but that officers eventually relented.

READ ALSO: Hereditary chiefs ask BC RCMP not to act with force against gas pipeline opponents

VicPD said after 15 hours without arrests, the building owner requested to have protesters removed. Officers began arresting participants with the “minimum amount of force.” Arrests took place over a four-hour period and protesters were escorted to waiting police vehicles. Protesters outside the building “made efforts to impede the lawful arrests,” police said, and surrounded officers who were “pushed and shoved while carrying arrestees to the police vehicles.”

VicPD said there were no injuries and no charges have been sworn.

Sutherland-Wilson said the protesters had decided to stay through the night when “their efforts were met with silence.”

“We wanted a concrete agreement from the Ministry that they would demand Horgan to meet with hereditary chiefs,” he said, adding that the premier’s recent offer to send the Minister of Indigenous Relations was “disrespectful.”

“[Horgan is] not treating them like a sovereign Indigenous people who have never ceded their territory,” Sutherland-Wilson said. “He’s treating them like an inconvenience and painting them in a narrative as dissidents [and] as protesters.”

Hereditary chiefs have taken a stance in conflict with members of the Wet’suwet’en Band Council, some of which have supported Coastal GasLink – the 670-kilometre pipeline set to run from northeastern B.C. to the LNG Canada’s export facility in Kitimat. Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with the 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline’s proposed path.

READ ALSO: B.C. First Nation hereditary chiefs demand stop-work order against natural gas pipeline


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon Arm firefighters sound sirens in support of hospital staff

Fire chief hopes to have more emergency responders involved in upcoming parade

Chamber steps up for Sicamous businesses trying to stay open

Organization creates directory of changes businesses have made in response to COVID-19

Salmon Arm opens respiratory clinic in response to COVID-19

Clinic will not be a walk-in centre, residents must call family doctor or nurse practioner first

Salmon Arm’s paving, pothole patching programs to begin in May

Long hard winter takes toll on roads, street cleaning underway

Last-minute hiring means Salmon Arm’s emergency shelter can remain open

Salvation Army’s Lighthouse shelter to stay open beyond normal closing date of April 1

First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

Health-care workers, seniors, Indigenous Peoples some of people most at risk, health officials say

Super Beaver Task Force: April Fool’s Day joke lightens weight of COVID-19 uncertainty

Ducks Unlimited Canada enlists beavers’ help to protect wetlands in unconventional way

Solar panels installed at Summerland’s municipal hall

Power from energy project expected to provide five per cent of building’s power use

COVID-19: Okanagan College student pens petition for pass/fail grades

Optional pass/fail program would reduce stress, recognize students’ challenges faced in pandemic

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for another six weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

South Okanagan piper to perform for livestreamed memorials

Penticton funeral home to show performances every Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Ebus suspends services in Alberta and B.C. in response to COVID-19

Bus company asking residents to stay safe at home

Gleaners give surplus produce, North Okanagan gratefully fed

Trailer full of goods scooped by community amid COVID-19

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

Most Read