Chief Gisday’wa with the remains of a structure alongside the Morice Forest Service Road burned in an arson fire overnight from Aug. 14 to Aug. 15. Two suspects have now been identified. (Gidimt’en Clan photo)

RCMP eye two suspects in alleged arson targeting Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief’s cabin

Structure, material destroyed in fire from the weekend, Gidimt’en Clan calls it a ‘hate crime’

Two men have been identified as suspects in a weekend fire that destroyed a Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief’s cabin on Morice Forest Service Road.

Houston RCMP said the the suspected arson happened overnight between Friday (Aug. 14) and Saturday. According to a Gidimt’en spokesperson, the cabin belonged to Chief Gisday’wa (Fred Tom) and had served as part of a cultural meeting place.

The fire was still burning when Gisday’wa, of the Gidimt’en Clan, arrived at the site after 9 a.m. that morning. In a statement, he called the arson an “absolutely racist” act, and the Gidimt’en called it a “hate crime.”

The Gidimt’en Checkpoint is located outside of Houston, B.C., and is along the route that Coastal GasLink workers take to work on the controversial natural gas pipeline, which sparked nationwide rail blockades in support of Wet’suwet’en opposing the pipeline last year. The destroyed cabin figured prominently as a checkpoint of the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en during protests connected to pipeline construction earlier this year.

Mounties, who maintain a presence in the area as a result of tensions between the Wet’suwet’en and Coastal GasLink, there was also evidence of a stolen vehicle on the scene. The two suspects are 19-year-old and 24-year-old men from Burns Lake who work in the Houston area.

“This is a priority for the detachment and could have ended tragically had there been anyone in the building,” said Sgt. Mark Smaill.

“The area appeared to have been unoccupied at the time of the fire and no one was located at the scene. The Forensic Identification Section was also called to the scene to process any evidence gathered in the area,” said RCMP Corporal Madonna Saunderson.

The investigation continues and information will be provided to the B.C. Prosecution Service regarding potential charges, Saunderson added.

READ MORE: Complaints of checkpoint ‘debris’ spark controversy

IndigenousRCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Totem pole considered cultural appropriation removed from Nelson’s Hume School

The pole had also become rotted and was seen as dangerous to students

Rossland resident Aerin Bowers completes 19-km swim along Christina Lake

Bowers said her dad inspired her to complete the epic adventure

Trail RCMP report golf course break-in, lost child and more

Anyone with information about the Birchbank break-in is asked to call the Trail RCMP

Without federal aid, the future of B.C. air transport is bleak

Air traffic remains down 75 to 85 per cent

RDCK rescinds evacuation alert for properties near Talbott Creek fire

Cooler and wetter condition are expected to help crews fight fire in coming days

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Most Read