NEWS: RCMP spying on the Yinka Dene Alliance

The Toronto Star reports, "The RCMP has been spying on a group of British Columbia First Nations (opposing) Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline..., according to documents obtained through an access-to-information request. The documents show that a provincial RCMP unit has been closely tracking the potential for 'acts of protest and civil disobedience' by the Yinka Dene Alliance, a coalition of northern B.C. First Nations who have been at the centre of resistance to Enbridge’s $5.5 billion pipeline proposal. ...The revelations add ammunition to critics who have charged that the Harper government is waging a campaign to demonize legitimate opponents of resource developments like the Northern Gateway, by labelling them as radicals or including them in Canada’s 'counter-terrorism' strategy."

"According to the documents, the RCMP unit gathered intelligence from unspecified 'industry reports', newspapers and websites, and Facebook and Flickr photo accounts. They also appear to have monitored private meetings, including one between First Nations and environmental organizations held in Fraser Lake, B.C., at the end of November, which Saik’uz First Nation Chief Jackie Thomas says was not announced publicly. The meeting’s purpose was 'to strengthen the alliance between First Nations and environmental groups opposing Enbridge', an intelligence report from December states. ...The monthly intelligence reports note that the oil company 'will experience increasingly intense protest activity due to the environmental sensitivity of the Northern Gateway path, combined with the fact that the territory has never been ceded to the Crown by First Nations in B.C.' ...An intelligence report notes that the Yinka Dene Alliance will show an 'increasing propensity and likelihood of utilizing blockades and confrontation to deter industry from accessing disputed territory.'"

"Enbridge declined to comment about whether it has been exchanging information with the RCMP."

"Chief Jackie Thomas, a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance who made a cross-country trip on the 'Freedom Train' to protest in Toronto against the pipeline on Wednesday, said she has had suspicions for some time about RCMP surveillance. 'We’ve always been peaceful, but this is how they try to paint us as the enemy,' said Thomas, a grandmother and mother of four concerned that an oil spill could destroy the lands she hunts and fishes on with many of her community members. ...'It is not a crime to defend our land and waters from a tarsands pipeline and to make the future safe for our grandkids.' ...The pipeline would cross more than 700 rivers and streams, whose abundance of fish has spawned an economy integral to the region, and three vital watersheds: the Mackenzie, the Fraser and the Skeena."

The Council of Canadians
The Council of Canadians strongly condemns this RCMP spying on Indigenous opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline. To see our action alert supporting the Yinka Dene Alliance and the 'Freedom Train', please go to http://canadians.org/action/2012/freedom-train.html. For campaign blogs on the 'Freedom Train' stop in Edmonton and the protest in Toronto today, see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14983 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=15030. To see our systemchange.ca video with Chief Jackie Thomas, go to http://systemchange.ca/?p=340.

The Toronto Star adds, "As previously reported in the Star, a national RCMP surveillance program monitoring First Nations that ran between 2007 and 2010 shared similar intelligence reports about First Nations with the private sector, including energy companies." In late-November 2011, the Council of Canadians and the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union condemned these police activities, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12236. We have also spoken against the surveillance of First Nations by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9387.

Additionally, the Toronto Star article reports, "The provincial unit has been tracking protests by other B.C. First Nations, including opposition to the Pacific Trails pipeline that would bring liquefied natural gas to the coast for export, and the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline carrying Alberta crude oil to tankers in Vancouver. The RCMP also kept tabs on conflicts over logging, mining, and fracking, and monitored ongoing and potential court cases involving First Nations." For more on our campaign against the Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain and Pacific Trails pipelines, please see http://canadians.org/pipelines. At our 'Shout Out Against Mining Injustice' this June 1-2 in Vancouver, we will have a workshop discussing 'Strategies to combat the criminalization of dissent and violence against anti-mining activists'. For more on that conference, go to http://www.canadians.org/shoutout.