The RCMP Has Officially Offered To Leave Wet’suwet’en Territory
The police force sent a letter to the hereditary chiefs.
After weeks of protests, blockades and demonstrations across Canada, there might be a resolution in the works. The B.C. RCMP has offered to leave Wet’suwet’en territory and move somewhere else, according to Canada's public safety minister. However, there is a condition to the police force leaving.
Before a cabinet meeting on February 20, Bill Blair, the minister in charge of public safety and emergency preparedness, told reporters that the RCMP in B.C. are willing to move out of the territory.
"The RCMP — I think in a very appropriate pursuit of less confrontation and in the goal of peacekeeping — have agreed to continue to serve the area but by locating their people in a nearby town, which is entirely their decision but I think the right one," he said.
The RCMP made the offer of leaving the territory in a letter to the nations' hereditary chiefs.
The letter, obtained by the CBC, said that the police force will move its presence from the protest site to the town of Houston so long as Morice West Forest Service Road stays clear.
"They've asked for a commitment from the hereditary chiefs that the road will remain free of obstruction and it is moving toward a less confrontational and a more peaceable arrangement entirely appropriate to the circumstances, and I'm very hopeful that that will satisfy the concerns that were raised," Blair said.
According to the CBC, Molly Wickham, a spokesperson of the Gidimt'en Clan of the Wet'suwet'en Nation, said that the comments feel like "a media strategy and an attempt to defuse" the situation. She also said that saying conditions have been met is overreaching.
"The RCMP have not vacated our territory or actually spoken with our hereditary chiefs and traditional leaders," she said. "The RCMP have engaged in a gross abuse of power on our territory in the past year."
After Blair made his comments about the latest development with this situation, Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, shared his thoughts on Twitter.
"On Monday, the AFN called for the RCMP to leave Wet’suwet’en Territory," he said. "This has now been proposed. This development is an important opportunity for progress, dialogue and safety."
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh also expressed his thoughts in a tweet.
"The RCMP are standing down, allowing discussions to happen in Wet'suwet'en territory. It's now up to the PM to show some leadership," he said.
When a demonstration near railway tracks in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Ontario started at the beginning of the month, people said they would stay there.
However, if or when the RCMP move out of Wet’suwet’en territory, it's still unclear if blockades will end.