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Coastal GasLink opponents return to northern B.C. camps, but say workers still allowed in

What you need to know about the Wet’suwet’en protests.
As the Wet'suwet'en solidarity protests spread across the country, we break down the issues at play with the help of Indigenous Lawyer Naomi Sayers.

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say they have returned to camps along a road leading to a work site outside Houston, B.C.

Jen Wickham, a member of the First Nation’s Gidimt’en clan, says they went back to the camps where 28 people were arrested when the RCMP enforced an injunction this month.

She says those at the camps are not blocking workers from Coastal GasLink from using the road or accessing the work site, and workers have been freely moving through.

READ MORE: Pipeline divides community as Coastal GasLink prepares to resume work in B.C.

Coastal GasLink and the RCMP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Members of the First Nation say they are maintaining the eviction order served to Coastal GasLink to leave the traditional territories of the Wet’suwet’en.

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On Thursday, a feast was held to update Wet’suwet’en members on their plans.

First meeting of all Wet’suwet’en clans in decades
First meeting of all Wet’suwet’en clans in decades

Na’moks, one of five hereditary clan chiefs, says they affirmed at the meeting that the eviction still stands and they want the RCMP to remove an office from the logging road.

“It was a nation meeting to let our nation know we’re still here, we’re listening to you,” said Na’moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale.

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en to consider all-clan meetings amid solidarity protests, internal division

Na’moks, who acts as a spokesman for the First Nation’s highest chiefs, was unable to attend as he was visiting a family member in hospital but he said he received regular updates.

He said the RCMP are welcome to continue operating out of their permanent offices in town, but they are not welcome along the logging road.

RCMP make final push to clear northern B.C. anti-pipeline camp
RCMP make final push to clear northern B.C. anti-pipeline camp

The RCMP said last week that major operations in the region have concluded and an exclusion zone has been lifted.

The Mounties said their Community Industry Safety Office, which has been operating on the logging road since January 2019, will remain in place and continue “patrols of the corridor to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Wickham said pipeline opponents have returned to Unist’ot’en camp, a Gidimt’en camp and a gathering place 27 kilometres down the road but have dismantled a third camp at the 39-kilometre mark along the road that was established to monitor police.

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READ MORE: 7 arrested as RCMP clear final blockade on route of northern B.C. gas pipeline

There were also some people who remained at the Unist’ot’en camp and at a chief’s cabin along the road during the arrests and they are still there.

She said the RCMP continues to check the identification of anyone who drives past.

Pipeline battle splits Wet’suwet’en community
Pipeline battle splits Wet’suwet’en community