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

Kelowna RCMP arrest alleged impaired driver

The driver is facing potential charges after power pole collision

West Kelowna Warriors host Trail Smoke Eaters

The Warriors are coming from a Saturday loss against the Vernon Vipers

UBCO announces new top boss for Okanagan campus

Lesley Cormack will start in the position this summer

Nine West Kelowna athletes to go to B.C. Winter Games

The athletes will compete in biathlon and cross country ski

Kelowna Toyota to attempt to break Guinness World Record for most stickers on a car

The event is being held to raise money for the Kelowna and West Kelowna fire departments

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

South Okanagan mountain bore racist name for a half century

Nkawala Mountain was initially named in connection with the deaths of two black men.

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Most Read