A Nelson police officer speaks with protesters outside Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall’s office during a rally on Jan. 30. Mungall has closed her office following a meeting with three protesters on Monday. Photo: Tyler Harper

B.C. energy minister closes Nelson office after protester chains self inside

The incident happened after a meeting between Michelle Mungall and Coastal GasLink protesters Monday

Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall has closed her office after a meeting with Coastal Gaslink protesters ended in one of them being chained to the front door.

A protest against the construction of a Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline on unceded Wet’suwet’en land was held outside Mungall’s Nelson office on Jan. 30, during which demonstrators demanded a meeting with Mungall.

Mungall, the province’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, agreed to a 30-minute meeting with three demonstrators on Monday.

“When the time came to conclude our meeting they became very verbally aggressive and on their way out the door one of them chained themselves to my office door and police had to be called,” Mungall told the Nelson Star, a Black Press Media publication.

“That’s not a safe work environment for my staff, so until people have cooled off my staff are working from home.”

Sgt. Dan Markevich of the Nelson Police Department told the Star that officers removed the chained protester from inside the office but made no arrests.

WATCH: Nelson protesters rally in support of Wet’suwet’en pipeline blockade

READ MORE: More than a ‘protest camp’: Unist’ot’en camp residents on life on the land

READ MORE: Unist’ot’en demand Coastal GasLink stop work at northern B.C. pipeline

One protester has remained camped outside the office, located at 433 Josephine St., which has remained closed since Monday. Mungall said she does not yet know when the location will reopen, but said constituents can still contact her staff via email and phone.

Kiala Loytomaki, one of the people who met with Mungall, said the group had requested the minister alongside the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission issue a stop-work order to Coastal Gaslink pending an audit of the province’s role in the pipeline’s construction.

“When we started asking her questions, she said she wanted to engage in respectful dialogue and that she wouldn’t answer yes or no questions because that was not respectful dialogue,” said Loytomaki, who characterized the meeting as professional and non-violent.

The provincial government announced Thursday it was meeting with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in March to begin a process of reconciliation.

“This process has emerged from decades of denial of Wet’suwet’en rights and title. Both parties believe that the time has come to engage in meaningful nation-to-nation discussions with the goal of B.C. affirming Wet’suwet’en rights and title.”

The statement adds “our commitment to lasting reconciliation is not connected to any specific project.”

Loytomaki promised further, peaceful action from local activists.

“We’re not going to stop trying to have a conversation with Michelle until she shows that she has a heart in this and cares about Indigenous people on these lands that we’re illegally occupying right now,” she said. “There will be more to come.”



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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