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TMX opponents get a month in jail for breaching court injunction

The protests took place near Kamloops Airport in October 2022
Four protesters were arrested on Oct. 17, 2020 for breaching a court injunction on a Tran Mountain worksite near Kamloops Airport.

Four women who protested the Trans Mountain expansion project in Kamloops in October 2020 will spend about a month behind bars.

Susan Bibbings, 56, Miranda Dick, 45, Heather Lamoureux, 32, and Laura Zadorozny, 61, received sentences in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops on Wednesday (Feb. 22) on criminal contempt convictions for breaching the court-ordered injunction on Trans Mountain construction sites.

Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick handed Bibbings, Dick and Zadorozny 28 days each in prison, while Lamoureux received a 29-day sentence.

As the four were handcuffed and led out of the courtroom by sheriffs, about 30 supporters in the gallery began to chant “Canada has no jurisdiction!” as five sheriffs lined the courtroom and told people to leave, which they eventually did.

Fitzpatrick noted that frustrations voiced by Dick during these proceedings surrounding land claims over Secwépemc territory were not relevent to the prosecution. 

All four women were arrested, and later released by police, on the morning of Oct. 17, 2020, during work hours when they gathered at a gate to a Trans Mountain construction site near Kamloops Airport in Brocklehurst.

The protesters are with the Secwépemc Unity Camp to Stop the Trans Mountain Pipleline, comprising one of two groups receiving sentences for criminal contempt convictions this week. Another four people — who were convicted of criminal contempt for breaching the injunction on Oct. 15, 2020 — have sentencing hearings scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

Court heard that on the morning of Oct. 17, a group of protesters, which included the four women, blocked the gate to the worksite, preventing a shift change. When RCMP arrived, some protesters stepped aside, but the four women did not and they were arrested and brought to a waiting police vehicle. Three of the women walked in handcuffs with police, but Lameureax refused and had to be carried by officers.

Justice Fitzpatrick said the protesters’ actions were peaceful and acknowledged the four women participated in the protest out of their concern for the environment. However, Fitzpatrick added it was “extremely unfortunate” they chose to disregard the law and impose their own sense of justice.

“Protests are part of a healthy democracy; criminal conduct is not,” Fitzpatrick said.

Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg recommended sentences of between one and three months, for the four women, suggesting one month plus extra time for Lameureax, as she had to be carried, and the one-month range for Dick. He recommended sentences of two to three months for Bibbings and Zadorozny, as they had each pleaded guilty to subsequent mischief charges related to other protests.

Defence lawyer Benjamin Isitt asked for 28 days in jail for Lameureax and Dick, 28 to 35 days for Zadorozny and a 60- to 75-day conditional sentence order, or 28 to 35 days in jail, for Bibbings due to medical issues of hypertension and sleep apnea.

Fitzpatrick disregarded factoring in the other charges Bibbings and Zadorozny were convicted of following this offence, noting they had already served sentences for those convictions.

Bibbings, a West Vancouver resident and director of a non-profit Sequoia Solution, was given a conditional discharge and a 12-month probation term for her role in an Extinction Rebellion blockade of a road to Vancouver International Airport in October 2021 and a suspended sentence and an 18-month probation term for blocking and gluing herself to the Trans-Canada Highway in 2022. Zadorozny, also a Vancouver resident and part-time retailer, received a six-month conditional sentence, two years’ probation and community service for a pair of mischief charges from protests in July 2021 and October 2021.

Fitzpatrick also denied Bibbings’ request for a conditional sentence, feeling it wasn’t sufficient, noting Bibbings’ medical needs could be accommodated in jail.

None of the four offenders, aside from Dick, had criminal records prior to the contempt charges. Dick had a prior intimidation and mischief conviction from a 2002 protest in Sun Peaks, which Fitzpatrick did not factor in to sentencing.

Court heard Lameureax is a Vancouver resident employed as an educator and artistic director of the Vines Art Festival, while Dick is an Indigenous woman from the Chase area who is a self-employed artist for the Red Hummingbird Boutique.