Two people pleaded guilty Monday to charges of criminal contempt for breaking a court order in November 2021 forbidding them from blocking access to work on a northern B.C. pipeline.
Logan Staats and Hannah Hall made the pleas at B.C. Supreme Court in Smithers, B.C.
The 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline will feed natural gas from the area of Dawson Creek, B.C., to a liquified natural gas terminal in Kitimat, along the B.C. coast.
Although the company signed benefit agreements with 20 elected band councils along the project's route in 2018, several Wet'suwet'en hereditary leaders say band councils do not have authority over traditional territories beyond reserve boundaries and the company does not have consent to cross their territory, about 780 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.
Coastal GasLink announced Monday that the installation of the pipeline has been completed.
According to an agreed statement of facts read in court, Staats was part of a group at a blockade of Morice West Forest Service Road and was arrested along with about 13 other people on Nov. 18, 2021.
The statement of facts said the blockade prevented Coastal GasLink from accessing camps where more than 500 people working on the pipeline were being housed.
It said the blockade prevented food, water and medical supplies from getting to the camp and sewage removal from the camps, as well as preventing work along the forest service road.
Staats, a Mohawk musician from Six Nations in Ontario, appeared in court by video call along with Hall.
Hall was arrested on Nov. 19, 2021 at an area called Coyote Camp, which was located on future pipeline drill spots at a pullout on the Morice road.
In an agreed statement of facts read to the court, Hall was one of 11 people arrested in a cabin. Hall had been arrested in February 2020 for breaking the same injunction but was never charged.
Justice Michael Tammen will sentence Staats and Hall on Thursday.
Construction work on the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline along the Morice Forest Service Road, near Smithers, B.C., in 2020. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)
Last year, Tammen sentenced five people who pleaded guilty to contempt of court related to blockades of pipeline work. He fined three of the accused $500 and ordered 25 hours of community service for two others.
In February, 12 people arrested in the November 2021 RCMP raids filed proceedings with B.C. Supreme Court to have their charges stayed, alleging the police abused their power and used excessive force, according to court documents.
Staats and Hall were among those who filed to have their charges stayed, but their lawyer Frances Mahon, told CBC News in an email that the stay proceeding will not go ahead given their guilty pleas.
Sabina Dennis, also accused of criminal contempt for breaking the injunction on Nov. 18, 2021, has pleaded not guilty and her trial began Monday.