The Gidimt’en clan is publicly condemning the arrest of an elder at the RCMP checkpoint located on the Morice West Forest Service Road.
In a Feb. 1 press release they said 73-year-old Carmen Nikal was arrested on Jan. 31 while trying to pass the checkpoint.
The release says Nikal — who has been an adopted member of the clan’s Cas Yex house for over four decades — was arrested following refusal to provide identification to RCMP at the checkpoint. It adds she has since been released without charge.
The release says that Nikal was asked to show identification to RCMP officers despite not being the driver of the vehicle.
“RCMP refused to provide reasons for stopping the vehicle en route to Cas Yex territory, and cited violations of the Motor Vehicle Act. Carmen Nikal was a passenger in the vehicle and therefore was not lawfully required to identify herself to police,” the release says.
In their original release regarding the access control checkpoint the RCMP say that “occupants requesting entry will be required to state their purpose, and provide identification.”
The release says that the arrest of Nikal is in stark contrast to commitments by the RCMP to stand down as talks between the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and Province commence this week.
Following that announcement the Wet’suwet’en say the RCMP have continued to conduct patrols on the territory and the checkpoint at the 27 kilometre mark is still in place.
The release says RCMP have also refused multiple requests from the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to dismantle the Community-Industry Safety Office (C-ISO) - a remote detachment built on Gisday’wa house territory which they say was done without consent.
“We are alarmed that as discussions are ongoing to advance peaceful outcomes, a large force of police officers are being deployed from throughout the Province to Wet’suwet’en territory,” the release says.
“Good faith discussions between the Wet’suwet’en and the Province cannot occur while we are under duress, and while our families and guests face the threat of police violence. The Province has yet to consider any alternative to the forceful invasion of our territory and removal of Wet’suwet’en people from our land.”
In a Dec. 24, 2019 press release the RCMP state that the (C-ISO) was put in place “at the request of the hereditary chiefs for constant police presence.”
The Interior News has reached out to both parties for further verification.