UPDATE: CP Rail blockade east of Kamloops removed, hereditary chief arrested

Protest was held in solidarity with five Wet’suwet’en First Nation hereditary chiefs regarding RCMP, LNG pipeline

Three people involved in the protest along the CP Rail tracks near Chase were arrested on Tuesday.

Secwepemc Hereditary Chief Saw-ses, his daughter and a member of the Syilx/Okanagan First Nation were arrested at the site of the protest, which has since moved from the tracks to the Chase RCMP detachment.

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The blockade has been removed from the tracks.

Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey said the RCMP were called to assist Canadian Pacific Police after at least two-dozen protesters had blockaded the tracks, contrary to a court-ordered injunction prohibiting such action.

“We would like to remind the public that any attempts to block rail tracks is extremely dangerous and unlawful,” O'Donaghey said. “Should they put themselves in harm’s way, protesters are not only putting their own lives at risk, they are also putting the lives of train operators, rail employees, responding police officers and members of the public at risk.”

A live video feed on social media, filmed at the scene of the blockade on Tuesday, showed several RCMP officers and vehicles. At least two of the protesters were placed in RCMP cruisers and taken away from the scene.

The blockade, located across from the Neskonlith Hall, was removed by protesters last week after they struck a deal with CP Rail to do so if their demands were met.

CP’s CEO took those demands and wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asking that he meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to discuss the construction of an LNG pipeline poised to run through Wet’suwet’en territory and the removal of RCMP from the area.

“CP rail sent that letter to Justin Trudeau; it had absolutely no effect,” said Anushka Azadi, a protester at the Chase blockade. “Trudeau still will not meet with the hereditary leaders. We are still not meeting on equal grounds and we will not stop until we do.”

CP called Chase protesters prior to the blockade being set up at 8 p.m. on Monday in an attempt to negotiate, but no agreement was reached.

The blockade in Chase was part of a number of similar actions across Canada in the past few weeks by supporters of five hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation who oppose construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline through their traditional territory in northwest B.C., despite support from elected band councils along the 67-kilometre pipeline route.

Last Friday, Trudeau held a press conference, at which he said blockades of roads, rail lines, bridges and ports in Canada must come down. This week, police across Canada began arresting protesters who refused to leave the blockades, but that action has been followed on Tuesday by more incidents of civil disobedience.

© Kamloops This Week

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