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Unist'ot'en Camp on "high alert" under rumours of police raid

Elizabeth McSheffrey , Vancouver Observer, Aug 28 2015 - 14:00

Policers officers have not directly confirmed or denied rumours of an impending raid of the Unist'ot'en Camp in northwestern B.C., which has long been on their radar for repeatedly denying the oil and gas industry access to its territory. 

Corporal Janelle Shoihet, a media relations officer in Surrey, said a press release issued by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) outlining the "mass arrest operation" is currently under review and no police action has been taken yet.

"We understand that there has been some discussions on social media that don't accurately reflect the RCMP's action or the situation," she told Vancouver Observer in an email statement. "To date, there has been no police action. It is our understanding that discussions between industry and the Wet'suwet'en are still possible."

Rumours of the "mass arrest operation" outlined in the UBCIC release quickly gained traction among local leaders and activists, who discouraged police action against the peaceful residents of the Unist'ot'en Camp in any form. 

Standing in solidarity 

More than 50 individuals and organizations including Elizabeth May, David Suzuki, and Greenpeace Canada, signed an online declaration of support for the clan, which has claimed and governed the territory through its traditional and hereditary laws. 
"We are deeply and gravely concerned to learn from a variety of sources that the RCMP appear to be on the verge of executing a highly provocative and dangerously reckless operational plan to make arrests," said the document. "We are local, national and international organizations monitoring these developments closely and we affirm that the Unist’ot’en are not alone."
The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) also sent a letter to the RCMP urging them to scrap any plans to cross into Unist'ot'en territory and make arrests. 

"... Police must proceed with the utmost caution in a situation such as this, so as not to interfere with the constitutional rights of the Indigenous people," wrote BCCLA executive director Josh Paterson. "If the RCMP is, as reported, planning to move in on the camp and remove its members against their will, we urge that this plan be reconsidered."