Five people including a Secwepemc hereditary chief and his daughter have been arrested after standing against construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project on Secwepemc territory in Kamloops, B.C.
A statement from the Sacred Woman’s Fire Council said the group was arrested near a work site on Mission Flats Road on Thursday as pipeline crews prepared to drill underneath the Thompson River.
Those arrested include Hereditary Chief Segwses, Loralie Dick, April Thomas, Billie Pierre and Romilly Cavanaugh, the latter of whom is a former engineer for the Trans Mountain pipieline.
“Along with the direct action … the Secwepemc delivered a Cease and Desist letter to TMX Pipeline corporation for the second time. The Secwepemc people did so under the direction of the Elder’s Council stating the land has never been ceded or surrendered and no consent has ever been given for the colonial government or the Trans Mountain pipeline to enact the violent authority and jurisdiction they claim on Secwepemculecw,” read the council’s statement.
“We stand for clean water, wild salmon and for our future generations.”
The project is tripling the capacity of the existing pipeline from the Edmonton area to the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, B.C. The portion of the pipeline in the B.C. Interior is being expanded from Kamloops to the summit of the Coquihalla Highway.
Crews are drilling under the Thompson River to pull the pipe through to the other side as part of the regional pipeline expansion. Work in Kamloops began in June.
In February, Hereditary Chief Segwses and his daughter gave themselves up for arrest voluntarily near Chase, B.C., after the RCMP moved in to end a railway blockade built in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs against construction of a different, natural gas pipeline.
A statement at the time said Segwses stepped forward to prevent RCMP from snuffing a sacred fire that was burning along the tracks and to prevent other Secwepemc nation members and supporters from being handcuffed.
RCMP said officers from a number of divisions were called to the work site around 12:40 p.m. on Thursday, after pipeline security staff said the demonstration at the gate was stopping them from doing their work.
Mounties said three people were arrested for allegedly violating a court-ordered injunction by blocking the workers’ path.
A statement Friday said a fourth person was arrested for “blocking an active work site on the south mountain slope” by attaching herself to a bulldozer. The fifth was arrested for mischief but released without charges after allegedly destroying survey stakes across the road from the drill site.
The first four people arrested are due in court on Jan. 20.