Canadian police discussed shooting indigenous protesters who were trying to stop a natural gas pipeline from being built on their land.
On Jan. 7, Royal Canadian Mounted Police armed with assault rifles arrested 14 land defenders when they cleared a checkpoint set up by the Wet'suwet'en nation to stop construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on their territory in northern British Columbia. Now, the documents obtained by The Guardian newspaper show that, in a strategy session before the raid to clear the road, the police argued that "lethal overwatch is req'd," meaning they wanted to use snipers.
Senior police officials also told their officers to "use as much violence toward the gate as you want." Police were ready to arrest both children and grandparents, and one document mentioned the possibility of sending children to social services. Historically, the police force forcibly removed indigenous children from their homes to place them in residential schools.
"Here we are, nearly 2020 and we are still being threatened with violence, death, and the removal of our children for simply existing on our lands and following our laws," Sleydo, or Molly Wickham, a spokesperson for the Gidimt'en Checkpoint protesters who was arrested herself in January, said.
Coastal GasLink is owned by TC Energy, the company formerly known as TransCanada Pipelines, which is also the driving force behind the Keystone XL pipeline opposed by indigenous groups in both the US and Canada. CGL is set to run 670 kilometres (roughly 416 miles) from north-eastern British Columbia to a liquid natural gas facility in Kitimat that is yet to be constructed.