The Thompson-Nicola Regional District board of directors are once again calling for immediate action from the B.C. government in resolving the blockade of the Tiny House Warriors protest group near Blue River. It’s been more than three years since the group first set up camp.
The motion to write a letter to provincial leaders, including Premier John Horgan, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Katrine Conroy and Rob Flemming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, was brought to the board by Director of Area ‘B’ Stephen Quinn during the regular meeting on Sept. 23. The motion was passed by the board, and a letter sent a few days later.
He said very little has been done over the last few years, and his biggest concern came to fruition with an alleged violent altercation at a worker’s camp in Blue River.
“It resulted in $75,000-worth of property damage,” Quinn told the board. “One security personnel went to hospital, he is now recovering at home. I’d like to ask the board if they will consider sending a letter to Premier Horgan, Minister Conroy who is the…lands minister, and Minister Flemming, the highways minister, and ask them to immediately get personally involved and get this situation resolved before the violence escalates any further than it has.”
A spokesperson from Trans Mountain confirmed the incident on Sept. 15 in an email, saying individuals broke through fencing and threw rocks and debris at the workers and damaged equipment.
“Trans Mountain respects the right to peaceful, lawful expressions of opinions,” a statement from Trans Mountain reads. “There is a BC Supreme Court injunction in place that prevents the blocking or obstructing of access to Trans Mountain’s work sites and work areas throughout British Columbia.
“However, the events of Sept. 15, 2021, were not activities of peaceful protesters, but were premeditated attempts to stop work and damage equipment on this important project.”
Sgt. G.D. Simpson the Clearwater RCMP Detachment confirmed the allegations against the THW. Members of the THW broke through fencing at the Trans Mountain Blue River camp and threw rocks and other debris at workers, injuring one man and damaging equipment. Five protesters were arrested at the scene.
The THW group originally set up camp in Clearwater in North Thompson River Provincial Park but moved north mid-2018 after one of their leaders, Kanahus Manuel, was arrested and they were ordered to vacate. The group has been parked near the Trans Mountain work camp in Blue River ever since.
Manuel and the THW have been protesting the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline, stating the infrastructure is being built on unceded Secwepemc territory.
This isn’t the first time community leaders and political figures have expressed their concern about the pipeline protesters. In 2019, Quinn requested a meeting with B.C.’s public safety minister, even noting then to the TNRD board that the behaviour of the THW had escalated from being a nuisance to harassment of pipeline workers and community members.
In July 2020, Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir and Simpcw First Nation Chief Shelly Loring issued a joint statement calling on the THW to leave its camp and stop its activity on Secwepemc land, saying the actions of the group violates Secwepemc laws and customs.
In the letter to the Premier and ministers, the TNRD board added the TNRD garbage collection truck and operator was “aggressively approached” while working in the area “to prevent him from doing his job.” The incident was reported to police.
“It is long past the time to have this issue resolved,” the letter reads. “We request that you, and the aforementioned Ministers, get directly involved and enforce the laws that are put in place to deal with this situation and have the THWs and their camp removed from Blue River.”
The Clearwater Times reached out to Kanahus Manuel and the Tiny House Warriors for comment. They did not respond before the publication deadline.