Written by Megan McDermott
In August I travelled to the Tiny House Warriors Village on a fact-finding mission to better understand the escalating intimidation and surveillance at the hands of the state of Canada and the Trans Mountain (TMX) Crown Corporation.
The Tiny House Warriors (THWs) are Secwepemc Land & Water Defenders who oppose the plan to twin the TMX pipeline. They engage in political advocacy to block the expansion of the pipeline, including the maintenance of the THW Village, which was set up in July 2018 to challenge the establishment of an industrial man camp in Blue River, BC.
After a warm welcome from Kanahus Manuel and other THW members, they showed me the idling and unmarked vehicles nearby, each pointing towards the village with a single man inside. When I approached them, I could see that the men inside were filming me and the THWs confirmed that this occurs 24/7. I asked the men who they were and why they were recording me, but they would only shake their heads.
In addition to the constant surveillance by men seeking to remain anonymous, the THWs are also subject to a robotic surveillance tower installed by TMX. This tower points directly at the village and even into the private premises of Kanahus Manuel’s tiny house. This tower is arrayed with floodlights, loudspeakers, sensors and cameras.
A walk with the THWs around their village revealed additional surveillance equipment installed in public areas along a footpath leading through blueberry fields and towards the banks of the Blue River. I was alarmed to see video cameras affixed to trees on public land, without any form of notice as to which government agency is collecting the recordings and for what purpose!
When we came across some workers in the area with video cameras on their hardhats, they too refused to discuss who they work for and why they were collecting our personal information in a public space.
This around-the-clock monitoring of the THWs is an intimidation tactic by the Canadian state to silence Secwepemc Land & Water Defenders and to continue to disregard the authority, jurisdiction and inherent Title and Rights of Indigenous peoples. While I have filed a request with TMX to find out more about what they are doing with the audio and video recordings that are being collected, the BCCLA continues to work in coalition with the THWs and others to call for an immediate suspension of permits and halt of TMX construction until the Secwepemc people give their free, prior and informed consent to the pipeline expansion.