Several people were arrested on Thursday (Oct. 15) at the Trans Mountain construction site on Mission Flats in Kamloops.
Members of the We, the Secwépemc Unity Camp to Stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline walked across Canadian Pacific Railway tracks and onto the Trans Mountain site. There, at least two protesters sat on an excavator and called for others opposed to the pipeline expansion project to help stop the work being done.
When Trans Mountain employees told protesters they were violating a B.C. Supreme Court injunction prohibiting the obstruction of access to Trans Mountain's worksites and that they must leave, a protester responded by saying they would stay.
Kamloops Mounties were called and, at about 2:30 p.m., the arrests — one of which was aired live on Facebook — took place.
The arrest video is one in a series of Facebook Live videos posted to the page “We, the Secwépemc: Virtual Unity Camp.”
In an earlier video, protesters can be seen walking up from their beachside encampment and into the entranceway of a worksite off Mission Flats Road — located north of where the excavator was stationed. At the worksite they began drumming and chanting: “No more pipelines on stolen native land” and “We will fight until we win.”
Workers who met them at a fence to the worksite asked them to leave, noting they were violating the court injunction.
About 15 protesters could be seen in the video. At one point, a cease and desist order from an elders council was taped to the fence.
In the videos, protesters cited safety concerns for the river and salmon populations within it. They also argued the pipeline expansion work is being done on unceded Secwépemc territory.
The protesters also have safety concerns regarding the ongoing work.
At the scene, protesters told KTW a total of five people were arrested on Thursday, but Mounties in the area would not confirm how many were taken into custody.
Two women who sat on the excavator — April Thomas and Billie Pierre — and a hereditary chief of the Secwépemc, Chief Segwses, were arrested, Anushka Azadi, spokesperson for the Secwépemc protesters, told KTW.
Romilly Cavanaugh, who Azadi said is an ex-Trans Mountain engineer, chained herself to the gate outside the worksite and was arrested.
Police also arrested Lorelei Dick, who was also arrested in September after chaining herself to the gate of a Trans Mountain worksite near the airport.
Azadi said Dick was sitting on the ground when police arrested her this time.
“She didn’t touch anything, she didn’t break anything, she was literally sitting on the ground in prayer, so they targeted her,” Azadi said.
She said none of the arrested protesters were committing any property damage. Azadi said she had seen police patrolling the area frequently in the days prior to these arrests.
At about 3 p.m., Mounties were leaving the scene, but Kamloops RCMP Supt. Syd Lecky — head of the city detachment — could be seen in discussion with what appeared to be a few Trans Mountain workers.
There were about 10 people back at the protest encampment at that time.
Azadi said they plan to consult their “elders and aunties” for advice on what their next steps should be.
“The Secwépemc have said no to this pipeline over and over. 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,” Azadi said.
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 site where the protests are occurring is where Trans Mountain workers are in the process of drilling under the Thompson River and dragging the pipeline below the riverbed, from near Kamloops Airport to the Mission Flats area.
Protesters established a camp to permanently oppose the pipeline on Oct. 3 on a beach just west of the Domtar pulp mill, off Mission Flats Road.
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, Lorelei Dick 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.