The BC RCMP say they are ready and willing to meet with Wet’suwet’en leadership demanding they leave the Morice West Forest Service Road and are moving their outpost to Houston. Deputy Commission Jennifer Strachan issued the following statement yesterday:
On February 19, Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, the Commanding Officer of the BC RCMP, sent a letter to the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs. There have been some questions in regards to the details of the letter. The following will provide some clarity on the offer to the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs.
D/Commr. Strachan and her team have had the opportunity to meet with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs on two occasions in January. She acknowledged that during those meetings they voiced concerns about the presence of the Community-Industry Safety Office (C-ISO) on their traditional territory. The C-ISO has been in place since March 2019 at the 29 km mark along the Morice West Forest Service Road. At that time, the RCMP needed a base of operations to ensure safety and security of all people in this very remote area.
D/Commr. Strachan indicated that if there is a commitment from the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs to continue to keep the Morice West Forest Service Road open to all users, the need for the C-ISO would be diminished. Therefore, in good faith, the RCMP will relocate our police officers to Houston.
The RCMP recognizes the importance for this crisis to be de-escalated both across the country and in the Wet’suwet’en traditional territory. Therefore, the RCMP will alter the operational posture as proposed to the Hereditary Chiefs.
The RCMP understands that not all Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs are available for discussion, however, in anticipation of this meeting, planning has been set in motion to transition operations from the C-ISO to the Houston Detachment.
The RCMP welcomes the opportunity to work towards a community driven solution that will advance issues of mutual interest, such as the future of police service delivery to the area. This includes the future of the C-ISO and our presence in the Wet’suwet’en territory. Ultimately, we remain open to any service delivery scenario that keeps people safe and secure.
We look forward to meeting with the Hereditary Chiefs as soon as possible to address these important issues.
The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposing the pipeline, however, claim the RCMP are not withdrawing.
“Contrary to the announcement by the BC RCMP on February 20, 2020 that they are withdrawing from Wet’suwet’en territory, the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en confirmed at the meeting that the BC RCMP and CIRG have in fact increased harassment, made illegal arrests, increased surveillance, and monitoring of Wet’suwet’en people and their invited guests,” according to a statement issued Friday. “This is completely unacceptable and far from a show of good faith and contradicts the announcement by the BC RCMP.”