Hereditary Chief Na’Moks addresses a crowd at Bovill Square in Smithers on Jan. 10. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

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

Solidarity rally for Wet’suwet’en took place on Jan. 10 in Smithers

A spokesman for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary clan chiefs says they have delivered “directives” to the RCMP, and provincial and federal politicians over the treatment of those opposed to a gas pipeline.

Speaking after a rally in Smithers, Na’moks says he and other chiefs have met with RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, as well as local New Democrat MP Taylor Bachrach and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson.

Na’moks says the chiefs have asked Strachan to ensure that officers maintain the peace and do not take violent action against pipeline opponents, who have set up camps and felled trees along the road toward a construction site for the natural gas pipeline.

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en evict Coastal GasLink from work site near Houston

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nation councils along the planned 670-kilometre route from northeastern British Columbia to LNG Canada’s export terminal in Kitimat on the coast, but hereditary chiefs say the project does not have their consent.

RCMP spokeswoman Dawn Roberts confirmed that a series of meetings is scheduled and ongoing.

But she says in an email that out of respect for those involved and in the spirit of what they are trying to accomplish, she will not share what is discussed until all the meetings have taken place or decisions have been made.

“We remain hopeful that these efforts will result in a resolution. This has been our focus and continues to be our focus,” she says.

The RCMP issued a statement Wednesday saying it’s investigating traps likely to hurt someone after patrolling the area where trees were felled across the road.

Officers found stacked tires with jugs of fuel inside, as well as bags of fuel-soaked rags. They also found trees along the side of the road that had been partially cut, which the RCMP say could be knocked down by wind.

Na’moks says the trees were felled for the safety of supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary clan chiefs.

Coastal GasLink responded to an interview request with an emailed statement.

“Coastal GasLink is approved, permitted and under construction today with more than 1,000 people working to build it, safely and responsibly,” Suzanne Wilton says in the statement.

She pointed to a news release that says clearing, grading, workforce accommodation, construction and other activities are planned for January between Chetwynd and Kitimat.

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