A Burnaby woman is speaking out on the eve of her being sentenced for protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project – a sentencing that will likely mean time in jail.
Six people who call themselves “land defenders” were arrested in fall 2021 and charged with criminal contempt for breaching the Trans Mountain court injunction that blocks protests in certain parts of Burnaby for pipeline work is taking place.
The group calls themselves the Brunette River 6 for their protests against 1,300 trees being cut in Burnaby along this river west of North Road and south of Highway 1.
The sentencing starts on Monday, Valentine’s Day, in B.C. Supreme Court, with each person facing sentences between 14 and 28 days.
“Our willingness to face jail time reflects our deeply held conviction that we need to act immediately to curtail fossil fuel expansion to prevent catastrophic climate change,” said Burnaby’s Ruth Walmsley, 61. “Recent deaths in B.C. alone, due to heat domes, wildfires, and extreme flooding, clearly indicate that we are in a climate emergency. And we cannot afford to be building new infrastructure in support of a carbon economy that is fueling this crisis.”
The Brunette River 6 are members of a nondenominational, multi-faith prayer circle and are residents of Burnaby and Vancouver. Three are women — Catherine Hembling, 79, Janette McIntosh, 58, and Walmsley — who will all plead guilty on Monday. They expect to be sentenced and taken into custody the same day. Hembling will likely spend her 80th birthday, on Feb. 23, in jail.
Two others — Zain Haq, 21, and Bill Winder, 69 — are expected to plead guilty, be sentenced, and get taken into custody that day. The sixth — Tim Takaro, 64 — will appear on Tuesday, but is not expected to enter a plea at that time. Both Winder and Takaro were arrested during a tree-sit.