The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada‘s national police force, was prepared to shoot Indigenous Wet’suwet’en activists that were defending land in northern British Columbia, The Guardian reports. According to documents viewed by the publication, RCMP commanders argued that “lethal overwatch” was required, referring to the deployment of snipers.
The commanders also reportedly told officers to “use as much violence toward the gate as you want” and were prepared to arrest grandparents and children. In addition, there was a reference to children possibly being apprehended by social services.
Freda Huson (Howilhkat), a spokesperson for a house group of Wet’suwet’en near the protest, claims that the RCMP’s reported activity during the raid is not out of the ordinary, suggesting that it follows with the Canadian government’s history of colonial violence.
“In our experience, since first contact, RCMP have been created by the federal government to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their lands. They have proven [that] through their harassment of my people to support Coastal GasLink in invading our territories.”
Per CBC, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller spoke about the “deeply concerning” nature of the terminology used in The Guardian report.
“There are a number of very deeply concerning words, phrases and terms used to a situation that is immensely delicate. This is something that we need to revise as a government and take a look at that, because the terminology is entirely unacceptable.”
"We've always been the guardians of this land."— Splinter (@splinter_news) October 9, 2017
Indigenous activists are fighting to stop a pipeline project in New York and New Jersey: pic.twitter.com/nC5MHHI3tz
A spokesperson for the RCMP declined to address the specific content of the documents obtained by The Guardian but claimed that the alleged plan stemmed from a December 2018 injunction and was intended to “keep the peace” in the area. The spokesperson also said that the plan was intended to address the “unpredictable nature” of the situations and the potential problems that could arise in the area.
The Wet’suwet’en have stood by their land and have yet to relinquish it to the Canadian government by surrender, land sale, or treaty. According to leaders of the First Nations people, they are defending their people from future harm, noting that the proposed 670-kilometer natural gas pipeline would run beneath a river system that several of the local municipalities rely on.
Pipeline protests are not uncommon for Indigenous peoples. As The Inquisitr previously reported, hundreds of Native Americans faced down police in North Dakota back in 2016. As with the recent incident in Canada, the protest was an attempt to stop pipeline construction through Native land that is considered sacred.