By Jaime Polmateer
BC Parks announced North Thompson Provincial Park re-opened last week after it was temporarily closed for about eight days due to protesters of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The announcement came after a group called the Tiny House Warriors, led by Kanahus Manuel, had the park shut down from July 6 to 14, before she was arrested for mischief after disobeying an eviction notice from BC Parks.
In its statement, BC Parks said campers who had reservations cancelled could expect a follow-up email with additional information about rebooking.
According to the Ministry of Environment, the Tiny House Warriors originally moved into the park from July 6 to 9 for a tattooing ceremony, shutting it down to other campers.
However, Manuel and others remained at the park, claiming they were occupying it in protest against the contentious Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was bought by the federal government last month from Texas-based company Kinder Morgan.
The expansion is set to increase the transport of bitumen to nearly 900,000 barrels of crude oil per day, running more than 1,000 kilometres from Edmonton, Alta., to Burnaby.
On July 10, wooden houses on truck beds were seen being moved through the park entrance.
Manuel said, at the time, that they had moved into the site and would be building additional tiny houses on land—action approved by the hereditary chiefs of the Secwepemc First Nation.
She added Indigenous Land Defenders within the group would resist the construction of the pipeline through their territory.
In a live stream on Facebook July 14, RCMP officers were seen near the entrance of the provincial park before placing Manuel in handcuffs.
Snutetkwe Manuel said on Twitter that her twin sister had been charged with mischief after the group refused to leave the park.
In a release July 14 by Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society, the group said it was outraged by the arrest, calling it a declaration of war.
“While there is much talk by the federal government about respecting Indigenous rights and reconciliation, the Trans Mountain buy-out expansion and arrest of Secwepemc Woman Warrior Kanahus Manuel is a declaration of war,” read the statement.
A later statement by RCMP said Manuel was released from custody the afternoon she was arrested on a list of conditions, as well as a promise to appear in court at a later date.
RCMP said additional members of the protest were told they could leave the park on their own or be arrested themselves.
The demonstrators then moved their camp of tiny houses north and in a Facebook post on July 16, leader Manuel said the Tiny House Warriors were in Blue River, a small community where she said 1,000 pipeline workers will move into a “man camp.”
“We have made it to our new home and we are here to address Canada we are here to address Trudeau,” Manuel’s post read, inviting others against the project to join them.
In a Facebook post made July 22, Manuel said the group had three tiny houses onsite in Blue River and are looking to build a fourth.
An RCMP vehicle can be seen in the video driving slowly by the protesters while Manuel is recording her video statement.
As for North Thompson Provincial Park, anyone who had a camping reservation cancelled due to the closure is also encouraged to call Discover Camping Reservations at 1-800-689-9025 to speak to a reservation agent.