Protesters were outside the Serious Coffee on Blanshard Street in Victoria Wednesday morning after protesting at the Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources through the night. Twelve protesters were arrested by police during the occupation. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Victoria police arrest 12 anti-pipeline protesters supporting Wet’suwet’en

‘We are unarmed, they have guns,’ protesters chanted on Wednesday morning

Twelve protesters supporting Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs were arrested by members of the Victoria Police Department early Wednesday morning during a lengthy occupation of a provincial government building lobby.

Indigenous youth activists blocked the entrance to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources on Blanshard Street on Tuesday for about 18 hours, starting at 11 a.m. The group was standing in solidarity with hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en First Nation opposing Coastal GasLink, asking that the chiefs’ demands be upheld, observed and respected.

READ MORE: Indigenous LNG supporters chide human rights advocates over pipeline comments

“We are unarmed, they have guns,” protesters yelled the next morning at a meeting outside the Blanshard Street Serious Coffee.

Protesters remained in and around the building overnight Tuesday night and told Victoria News the next morning that there were many arrests between 1 and 6 a.m. They said they were forcefully removed and had wanted only to peacefully occupy the space.

VicPD confirmed that 12 adults were taken into custody after 15 hours of negotiations. They said the arrests were lawful under the Trespass Act.

On Wednesday morning young Indigenous protesters gathered down the street from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources – where 12 participants were arrested by VicPD between 1 and 6 a.m.(Nina Grossman/News Staff)

“Officers worked with both representatives of the protest group and the Province to find a peaceful resolution to the incident,” said VicPD spokesperson Cameron MacIntyre in a statement. “In the course of the evening, additional protesters arrived outside the building. Officers from Patrol, the Community Services Division, Investigative Services Division and the Integrated Crowd Management Unit attended.”

VicPD said plain clothes community liaison officers listened to and spoke with participants while officers “facilitated access to medicine, food, and water. Officers also assisted parents who arrived to pick up youth who were present at the protest.”

Protesters said they were initially denied food but that officers eventually relented.

READ ALSO: Hereditary chiefs ask BC RCMP not to act with force against gas pipeline opponents

VicPD said after 15 hours without arrests, the building owner requested to have protesters removed. Officers began arresting participants with the “minimum amount of force.” Arrests took place over a four-hour period and protesters were escorted to waiting police vehicles. Protesters outside the building “made efforts to impede the lawful arrests,” police said, and surrounded officers who were “pushed and shoved while carrying arrestees to the police vehicles.”

VicPD said there were no injuries and no charges have been sworn.

Sutherland-Wilson said the protesters had decided to stay through the night when “their efforts were met with silence.”

“We wanted a concrete agreement from the Ministry that they would demand Horgan to meet with hereditary chiefs,” he said, adding that the premier’s recent offer to send the Minister of Indigenous Relations was “disrespectful.”

“[Horgan is] not treating them like a sovereign Indigenous people who have never ceded their territory,” Sutherland-Wilson said. “He’s treating them like an inconvenience and painting them in a narrative as dissidents [and] as protesters.”

Hereditary chiefs have taken a stance in conflict with members of the Wet’suwet’en Band Council, some of which have supported Coastal GasLink – the 670-kilometre pipeline set to run from northeastern B.C. to the LNG Canada’s export facility in Kitimat. Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with the 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline’s proposed path.

READ ALSO: B.C. First Nation hereditary chiefs demand stop-work order against natural gas pipeline


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

COVID-19 minimizes Okanagan Regional Library budget increase

Library adapts to pandemic fiscal disruptions

Interior Health continues to tackle COVID-19

IH president Susan Brown says don’t become complacent about pandemic

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Squabble over mask policy at LUSH in Kelowna mall

The woman filmed the encounter at LUSH Cosmetics, where wearing a mask in-store is company policy

Cops For Kids ride wraps in Okanagan

No pomp, no circumstance for end of milestone 20th anniversary fundraising bicycle trip

Former Kelowna cop faces fourth lawsuit alleging sexual assault

Ex-Mountie Brian Mathew Burkett is also separately facing seven charges of breach of trust

Province opens ‘middle income’ housing in Kelowna

Prices on the units are $1,300 for a one-bedroom and $1,780 for a two-bedroom, nearing area-average prices

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Reward offered for return of Okanagan puppy

An 11-week-old boxer-mastiff cross pup was allegedly taken from its Kelowna Friday, Sept. 18

Most Read