Police have made more arrests at a Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project worksite in Kamloops.
Four people were arrested on Saturday morning (Oct. 17) at the gate to the project worksite near Kamloops Airport.
Those arrested are all women and are believed to be members of the Members of the We, the Secwépemc Unity Camp to Stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Included among those arrested was camp spokeswoman Miranda Dick.
RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey said all four women arrested — ages 58, 54, 42 and 29 — were transported to the Kamloops RCMP detachment for processing and later released on conditions. They are scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 20, 2021.
“A reminder that demonstrators have the right to peaceful, lawful and safe protest and companies have a lawful right to complete their mandated work,” O’Donaghey said. “The RCMP is working hard to protect both of these rights and ensure all parties and public are kept safe.”
The camp was set up on Oct. 3 near the Trans Mountain worksite on Mission Flats, across the Thompson River from the site near the airport.
Saturday’s arrests follow the arrests of five members of the protest camp at the Mission Flats site on Oct. 15. Kamloops Mounties have cited civil contempt of the court order in making the arrests, pointing to a B.C. Supreme Court injunction prohibiting the obstruction of access to Trans Mountain's worksites.
Those opposed to the pipeline twining project argue the work is being done on unceded Secwépemc territory.
They have also cited safety concerns for the river and salmon populations within it, along with concerns about the safety of the ongoing work.
The protesters have said they represent the will of the Secwépemc people and contend the First Nations band councils that do support the pipeline project have been bought off to do so. The Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation has a $3-million mutual benefits agreement with Trans Mountain.
The sites are the north and south sides of the Thompson River, where the protests are occurring, are where Trans Mountain workers are in the process of drilling under the Thompson River and dragging the pipeline below the riverbed, from near the airport to the Mission Flats area.
Four of the five people arrested on Oct. 15 are no longer in custody and have court dates in January 2021.
According to the B.C. RCMP, officers from its community-industry response group, division liaison team and Kamloops RCMP, the Oct. 15 protest led to the arrests of a 69-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman and a 57-year-old woman who had tied her arm to a Trans Mountain fence with a zap strap. Also arrested were a 43-year-old woman who tied herself to a bulldozer and a 32-year-old woman who allegedly destroyed survey stakes across the road from the drill site. Police say she was released without charges.
RCMP has not released the names of the charged individuals from Oct. 15, but protesters at the scene told KTW the 69-year-old man is Chief Henry Segwses, hereditary chief of the Secwépemc, and the 57-year-old woman who attached herself to the gate is Romilly Cavanaugh. The 43-year-old woman arrested on the bulldozer is believed to be Billie Pierre.
“The Secwépemc have said no to this pipeline over and over,” Anushka Azadi, a spokesperson for the Secwépemc protesters, told KTW at the scene of the Oct. 15 protest. “There’s never [been] an appropriate time or place given to us to say no, so we have to do the things we did today to show we say no to this pipeline to protect our water, our salmon and our future generations.”
In a release, the B.C. RCMP said that protesters have the right to peaceful, lawful and safe protest and companies have a lawful right to complete their mandated work.
“The RCMP is working hard to protect both of these rights and ensure all parties and public are kept safe,” the release states.
Establishment of the protest camp followed previous public acts opposing the project.
In August on Mission Flats, a Secwépemc man held a vision quest and fast. In early September, a woman chained herself to a Trans Mountain worksite near Kamloops Airport. She was charged, released and had to attend court in Vancouver.
On Sept. 30, RCMP arrested a Merritt woman who refused to leave a Trans Mountain worksite near Hope after parking her vehicle in a manner that prevented workers from conducting operations. She was released at the scene, with charges pending.