Rallies planned for protesters arrested while blocking work on B.C. pipeline

HOUSTON, BC — Dozens of rallies are planned in British Columbia, across Canada and as far away as Europe to support pipeline protesters arrested in northwestern B.C.

Fourteen people were taken into custody Monday at a blockade southwest of Houston, B.C., where members of the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation had set up a camp to control access to a pipeline project across their territory.

An RCMP statement says the arrests came after officers realized a resolution was unlikely, even though they had spoken with camp members about removing the blockade and set up a meeting between hereditary chiefs and the pipeline company.

Police say a temporary exclusion zone is now in place along the remote road and will be consistently re-assessed.

TransCanada subsidiary Coastal GasLink obtained an injunction ordering removal of obstructions in area as preliminary work gets underway on a pipeline carrying natural gas from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat.

A social media message posted early Tuesday on a site supporting the Gidimt’en says “we are now preparing for a protracted struggle.”

LNG Canada announced in October that it was moving ahead with its plans for a $40-billion pipeline and liquefied natural gas export facility in Kitimat.

Construction on the $6.2-billion, 670 kilometre pipeline connecting gas producers in the Dawson Creek area with the Kitimat export plant, is scheduled to begin this month.

TransCanada says it has signed agreements with all First Nations along the route but demonstrators argue Wet’suwet’en house chiefs, who are hereditary rather than elected, have not given consent for work through their territories.

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