An Indigenous group calling itself the Tiny House Warriors has moved into the North Thompson River Provincial Park near Clearwater, B.C., in an effort to block the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Group spokeswoman Kanahus Manuel says they are reclaiming an ancestral village their people were forced from many years ago, while at the same trying to prevent the expansion of the pipeline through their traditional territory.
Manuel says they have moved into the site and will be building tiny houses on the land in an action that has the approval of the hereditary chiefs of the Secwepemc First Nation.
She says Indigenous land defenders within the group will resist the construction of the pipeline through their territory.
A statement from the provincial Ministry of Environment says B.C. Parks is maintaining the closure of the area while efforts are made to respectfully resolve the situation and it is offering refunds to those who have booked campsites.
The ministry says it recognizes the right to engage in peaceful protest; however, it also recognizes that people, who simply want a camping experience are being inconvenienced.
Manuel responded by saying her people have been inconvenienced by colonialism for over 150 years.
“We were moved off of our lands. There are internationally protected rights which (say) Indigenous people can use and exclusively occupy their lands to maintain our culture, our language and our ways.”
She said no one from the provincial government has come to speak with them since the group cut off access to the main road into the camp.
Many of the locals support their action, she said, because they don’t want the pipeline expansion either.
Although some people have been shouting racist slogans from the vehicles, she added.
“We’ve had a few drive-by shoutings.”
The Canadian Press