Members of the Gitxsan Nation resurrect their blockade of the main CN rail line in New Hazelton Feb. 24. The supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their territory dismantled a previous blockade Feb. 13. Randall Shoop photo

14 arrested at blocked rail line in northern B.C., police say

But a Gitxsan hereditary chief says 14 were arrested, as fight over natural gas pipeline continues

Fourteen people were arrested Monday night at an anti-pipeline blockade outside New Hazelton in northern B.C. on territory that neighbours the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

RCMP said in a statement Tuesday that one train reportedly had a near-miss collision with a man on the tracks, believed to be a demonstrator. Police also said tires were slashed on four police vehicles that were on site of the blockade overnight.

Mounties said those arrested were released from custody at the detachment in New Hazelton shortly after 3 a.m.

Hereditary Chief Spookwx of the Gitxsan Nation, however, said 14 people had been arrested, and that three other hereditary chiefs were also taken into custody as police broke up the demonstration on a CN Rail line. The discrepancy in the number of people arrested was not immediately clear. A request for comment has been made to the RCMP.

A similar blockade was set up by the Gitxsan earlier this month and removed as a show of good faith on Feb. 13, but Spookwx says the protest resumed because the RCMP have not acted quickly enough to leave the Wet’suwet’en’s traditional territory where a natural gas pipeline is under construction.

Elsewhere in B.C., anti-pipeline protests blocked an intersection that serves as a key entry point to the port of Vancouver, and a group of protesters remained at the B.C. legislature.

Commuter rail service was moving again between Vancouver and the Fraser Valley after demonstrators blocked rail tracks late Monday afternoon, saying they were acting in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Following his arrest on Monday night, Spookwx says supporters blocked Highway 16, the main route through the region, until about 3:30 a.m. when all 14 people who had been arrested were released by the Mounties.

Spookwx, who also goes by Norm Stephens, says First Nations across Canada must act together as sovereignty issues raised by the construction of the pipeline are addressed because “their rights are ultimately at risk here.”

“The First Peoples of Canada should be treated with respect,” he added.

The Canadian Press

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