Three people were arrested on Monday as First Nations members protested at Thompson Rivers University during a consultation meeting about the proposed Trans-Mountain Pipeline expansion.
Social media posts from Kanahus Manuel — a spokesperson for the activist group Tiny House Warriors, who oppose the pipeline expansion — identified the arrested protesters as her sisters, Mayuk and Snutetkwe Manuel, and her brother-in-law, Isha Jules.
Former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci and his team were meeting with local Indigenous groups in TRU’s Campus Activity Centre on Monday as part of a pre-consultation roundtable on the pipeline expansion when the protesters arrived.
The protest began before 10 a.m. in response to what Thompson Rivers University spokesperson Darshan Lindsay described as a third-party event. She said she could not comment on the nature of the meeting as it was not a TRU event.
“Police were called because the situation got to the point where it was felt police attendance was required,” Lindsay said, adding she did know who called police.
Handprints in what appeared to be red paint could be seen on the walls and steps of TRU’s Campus Activity Centre. Splatters of paint were on the pavement in front of the building as well and security personnel could be seen around and inside the building.
The CAC has been locked as a precautionary measure as the event is being held through the day, Lindsay said, noting anyone who has an appointment in the building will be escorted inside.
Kamloops RCMP Cpl. Jodi Shelkie confirmed Mounties took three protesters into custody — two women and a man — but said police were still in the process of identifying them as of 3:30 p.m. on Monday.
“The RCMP must take action in response to criminal offences,” she told KTW, noting the protesters entered the building at just after 9:30 a.m. and disrupted the meeting.
“Kamloops RCMP officers were requested to attend when members of the campus security were assaulted,” Shelkie said. “As well, the protestors had allegedly damaged property by pouring paint over the sidewalk and walls outside of the activity centre. Charges have not been formally laid, but an investigation of mischief and assault is underway.
“The RCMP fully support the right to peaceful and safe protest,” Shelkie said. “But businesses also have the right to conduct meetings. No one has the right to damage property or to put someone else at risk. As soon as we see a situation where property is getting damaged or the public is at risk, then we must step in.”
Video of the protest posted to Facebook shows one of the Tiny House Warrior protesters standing outside the doors to the Grand Hall inside the CAC shouting her opposition to the pipeline using a bullhorn as police and security personnel block the door. The woman is taken into custody shortly after by police.
The Tiny House Warriors contend that consent in the Secwepemc nation is exercised colelctively and they are opposed to closed-door meetings with bands recognized by the federal government as they do not hold title over the majority of First Nations land.
In a statement, Kanahus Manuel said: “[Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau must respect Indigenous Peoples’ right to consent to energy projects and our right to say ‘no’. Unless he is willing to do this, any consultation process his government runs will be a rubber-stamp mockery of our rights.”
Kanahus Manuel was arrested by the RCMP in July during another pipeline protest in North Thompson River Provincial Park, during which she allegedly defied an eviction order from the BC Parks Service.
In that protest, passing vehicles on Highway 5 North were damaged by paint being thrown into their paths.
After the Federal Court of Appeal ruled in August that consultations with Indigenous communities on the pipeline expansion route were inadequate, the federal government appointed Iacobucci to oversee new engagement.
The roundtable meetings are designed to determine how the consultation process will unfold.
My mother Beverly Manuel demanding release of her daughters Snutetkwe and Mayuk Manuel and son in law Isha Jules arrested at Trans Mountain ROUNDTABLE meeting hosted by Justice Frank Iacobucci!!! This meeting faced major opposition by Secwepemc & Tiny House Warriors #stopTMX pic.twitter.com/QUroF8Wmr1— Kanahus Manuel (@KanahusFreedom) December 10, 2018