The Tk’emlups te Secwépemc (TteS) First Nation is denouncing protests being conducted against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which saw the RCMP make nine arrests in Kamloops on two separate days last week.
On Oct.15, five people from the We, the Secwépemc Unity Camp to Stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline were arrested for allegedly violating a court injunction prohibiting obstructing Trans Mountain worksites. Protesters opposed to the Crown corporation’s twinning of the oil pipeline underway in Kamloops were arrested after demonstrations outside a worksite off Mission Flats Road.
A statement from Tk’emlups Chief Rosanne Casimir was issued on Oct. 16, a day before four more arrests were made at a Trans Mountain worksite near the airport.
In the statement, Casimir said Tk’emlups band elders and membership were not part of the protest, nor do they endorse it.
“I am the elected Kukpi7 (chief) under our own custom election code and the ex officio for all TteS portfolios,” Casimir said. “The area Trans Mountain is working in is our area of responsibility. No one else has the right to speak on our behalf.”
The protesters have said they represent the will of the Secwépemc people and contend First Nations band councils that do support the pipeline project have been bought off to do so. One of the arrested protesters is said to be a hereditary chief of the Secwepemc, according to the protesters.
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, between Kamloops Airport and the Mission Flats area.
Protesters have set up what they say is a permanent encampment off Mission Flats Road near the worksite to oppose the pipeline.
They cite safety concerns for the river and salmon populations within it. They also argued the pipeline expansion work is being done on unceded Secwépemc territory.
Casimir went on to state that the band has worked co-operatively with Trans Mountain, secured employment for its members on the project, participated in the decision-making matters and is proud to have made an impact and changes to the environmental process.