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

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

No passenger flights at West Kootenay Regional Airport until at least September

This is the third time Air Canada has announced changes to flight operations out of the airport

Village of Nakusp looks to reduce water consumption

With sprinklers/hoses, residents could only water gardens for two hours on certain days under amended bylaw

Morning Start: 180 different bird species exist in Kootenay National Park

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Friday, May 29

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Update: Deceased suspect in West Kootenay gas station stabbing only in town two weeks

Police say the 30-year-old suspect stabbed a Montrose gas station employee

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

Most Read