Ta’Kaiya Blaney (front row, left to right), Tsartlip First Nation Chief and Union of BC Indian Chiefs vice-president Don Tom, Shay Lynn Sampson and Kolin Sutherland-Wilson spoke about the arrests of the young Indigenous land defenders on Jan. 21 while other supporters looked on. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

UPDATED: Indigenous protesters arrested during sit-in at Ministry office file police complaint

A dozen Wet’suwet’en supporters were arrested in Victoria

The 12 Indigenous protesters arrested for holding a sit-in in support of the Wet’suwet’en in Victoria last week have filed complaints against Victoria police.

The young land defenders blocked the entrance to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources on Blanshard Street for about 18 hours, starting at 11 a.m. on Jan. 21. The group was asking that the demands of the hereditary chiefs regarding stopping work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline be upheld, observed and respected.

On Wednesday, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs said that several people in attendance were injured, despite Victoria police claims that no one was hurt.

READ MORE: Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

Those arrested sent a formal complaint to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner and held a press conference at the student union building on the University of Victoria (UVic) campus on Wednesday morning.

Shay Lynn Sampson, a Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en UVic student who attended the sit-in, said the fallout has been “intense” and has taken a toll on her community. She noted the protest was peaceful and focused on prayer and solidarity with Wet’suwet’en.

“When police arrived, that’s when violence ensued,” Sampson said.

READ MORE: 12 Wet’suwet’en supporters arrested by VicPD

Tsartlip First Nation Chief and Union of BC Indian Chiefs vice-president Don Tom also spoke at the conference, noting that he was proud to stand with the young Indigenous protesters and rebuke the VicPD statements about what took place.

“If we look at the recent history of RCMP not allowing hereditary chiefs past the checkpoint and we have the VicPD here in Victoria giving misinformation regarding the arrests and the treatment of the youth who were peacefully defending Wet’suwet’en rights, it’s very concerning,” Tom said. “They have to be held accountable.”

Ta’Kaiya Blaney, an 18-year-old Tla’amin land defender, was the last to be arrested at the sit-in. At the Jan. 29 press conference, she emphasized that she feels police “went beyond their duty” and treated the Wet’suwet’en supporters at the Ministry office with “hatred and racism.”

“It was heartbreaking to hold ceremony, to sing, to pray with these Indigenous youth and see the way that they were treated by police that night,” Blaney said.

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en activists say Victoria arrests a ‘perpetuation of violence’

Kolin Sutherland-Wilson, a Gitxsan UVic student arrested during the sit-in, pointed out that this defence of the land is an ongoing effort to protect the it from destruction for future generations.

A legal observer, Alexia Manchon, attended the sit-in and monitored interactions between the protesters and police. Manchon, an Indigenous Law student at UVic, said the protesters occupying the ministry office experienced violence despite explained to the some 30 armed officers on site that “they had no weapons on them and would not be using violence at any point.”

Manchon is also filing a complaint about the police action she witnessed on Jan. 21.

Deputy Police Complaint Commissioner Andrea Spindler confirmed that the OPCC has received “several” complaints regarding police conduct during the Jan. 21 sit-in. She could not confirm how many had already been filed but noted that each complaint will be reviewed and investigated by the independent civilian organization.

Black Press Media has reached out to VicPD for comment.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Coastal GasLink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

UPDATE: Police oversight agency investigating after shots fired Saturday night in Chilliwack neighbourhood

RCMP reported a ‘distraught male’ fired at police officers on Christina Drive – IIO is on scene Sunday

Prospera Credit Union, Westminster Savings lay off over 100 staff following historic merge

2020 merger was largest credit-union merger in Canadian history

Peace on the water

Harrison Lake was rather serene recently with the lack of usual traffic… Continue reading

‘Service beyond the classroom’: Gerry Palmer wins UFV award

Palmer has been involved with UFV for more than 30 years, starting as an instructor

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

‘Not a joke’: Promoter wants to rocket-launch man the length of White Rock pier

Brooke Colby says he’s building an eight-foot rocket in his backyard

RCMP confirm man dead in Chilliwack shooting incident

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Boy, 2, left with ‘soft tissue injuries’ after being hit by car in Squamish intersection

Boy was release from hospital, police continue to investigate

Most Read