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First Nation wants anti-pipeline group to apologize for protest outside premier’s home

The Beecher Bay band says an anti-pipeline group breached protocol in not asking permission to enter the band’s territory when it protested outside the premier’s home, and it wants an apology. Early on Feb.
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Protesters outside the home of B.C. Premier John Horgan on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.

The Beecher Bay band says an anti-pipeline group breached protocol in not asking permission to enter the band’s territory when it protested outside the premier’s home, and it wants an apology.

Early on Feb. 18, members of Extinction Rebellion, claiming solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C., planned to blockade Premier John Horgan’s driveway to prevent him from getting to the B.C. legislature for delivery of the budget.

Instead, one member knocked on the door, causing Ellie Horgan, the premier’s wife, to fear for her safety. Horgan called the group’s actions “well and truly beyond the line,” saying: “If people think that it helps their cause to terrorize my spouse, then they’re dead wrong.”

In a letter signed by Chief Russ Chipps and two councillors, the band says Extinction Rebellion ignored protocol and terrorized a private citizen on Beecher Bay land. The band wants an apology to the community and to Ellie Horgan.

“I think the point Chief Chipps was making is that you can’t declare you’re in favour of one thing and then abuse it in another,” Horgan told reporters at the legislature press gallery on Wednesday.

Don Goodeve, speaking for Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island, said the group plans to release a public response by the end of this week.

“Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island take the issues raised by the Beecher Bay chief and band council very seriously,” said Goodeve.

“We will be providing a full response to all of the concerns expressed by the chief and council. It is important to us, and we believe [to] all parties, that we do so completely, clearly and respectfully.”

Horgan has said since the incident that the stunt has deeply affected his wife, whom he described as a peaceful person.

“My spouse is thinking every day: ‘What’s going to happen today?’ and that’s not what she signed up for, nor did my neighbours,” said Horgan.

“And so I appreciate the Beecher Bay First Nation for making their statement about protocols and respect.”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com