Open Letter

June 18,  2019  

We write to share our joint concerns with the Canadian federal government, Trans Mountain Corporation, and RCMP over the recent invasion of the Tiny House Warriors’ Blue River camp on July 23, 2021, and the installation of intrusive 24/7 surveillance technology. This compounds our ongoing concerns for their human rights and safety. 

On July 23rd, 2021, between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m., approximately 50 people who we believe to be Trans Mountain Corporation workers or contractors and private security personnel descended on the Tiny House Warriors village site near Blue River, BC. They dismantled THW security barricades that control access to the camp, including an installation of red dresses drawing attention to the epidemic of missing and murdered women and girls. In its place, they erected their own steel fences and concrete barriers, effectively blocking THW’s access to the road, to their main source of water (Blue River), and to the bushes used to gather berries--an Aboriginal right protected under section 35 of the Constitution of Canada. 

They posted no trespassing signs and warning signs referring to a sweeping injunction that looms over the entire proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project. They also installed remote-operated surveillance towers, in one case metres from sleeping quarters, arrayed with floodlights, loudspeakers, sensors and cameras. 

We anticipate this to be one of the first steps in a move to escalate surveillance of the Tiny House Warriors and ramp up construction of a proposed industrial camp to house 550 temporary pipeline workers (sometimes referred to as a ‘man camp’).

In a July 27th presentation before the Village of Valemont Council Meeting, Trans Mountain confirmed that between July 23rd and July 25th, the area was “completely fenced and secured” for the purposes of the industrial camp, and that they are proceeding with their Oil and Gas Commission notification to begin work. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls notes that such camps drastically increase the risks of sexual assault, domestic violence and intimidation against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. In Canada and internationally, Secwepmec land defenders have urgently raised concerns about sexual assault, violence and substance abuse associated with these camps and their opposition to them on their territory. 

The Tiny House Warriors (THW) are a group of Indigenous women, families, and land defenders who are upholding collective sovereignty and jurisdiction in opposition to the ongoing expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMX) through unceded Secwepemc territory in interior BC. The camp near Blue River is one of two camps where the THW have reclaimed “Crown” lands to assert their collective and territorial authority in opposition to the pipeline and the construction of associated work camps. Indigenous land and human rights defenders have maintained a full-time presence there since July 2018. In this time, it has grown to be a thriving community--a site where Secwepemc culture, rights, and sustainable land-based economies flourish. The actions of TMX on July 23 constitute an invasion of this community and breach of Indigenous rights. 

Targeting Indigenous people on their own land with intrusive, round-the-clock monitoring and remote multi-spectrum surveillance technology could represent a serious violation of privacy, civil liberties, human rights and Indigenous rights. We are concerned by the growing use of these enforcement techniques by private security companies, the potential sharing of surveillance data with policing services, and the implications for Indigenous groups and civil society at large.

Injunction monitoring and enforcement on the Trans Mountain project has largely been taken out of the hands of police by private security. The towers installed opposite the THW camp appear to take this a step further, using remote-operated cameras and automated sensors. It is unclear to what extent human operators are involved in monitoring or evidence collection. It is unclear who owns the towers, where recordings are kept or how long they are stored. It is unclear what sensor technologies are in use, or how far they project beyond the injunction zone.   

Photographs of the towers show they have an independent power supply, including batteries powered by solar panels and likely a fuel cell generator as backup, which is common on these kinds of installations. The towers include a pneumatic mast, two-way transmission antennas, a robotic pan/tilt/zoom camera, LED floodlights and loudspeakers. They also include fixed sensors which commonly house a variety of technologies including motion detection, night vision cameras and thermal imaging cameras. It is unclear which of these capabilities is included in the Blue River towers, their effective range or what information they are gathering.

The THW have long been the target of ongoing surveillance, profiling, and criminalization by the RCMP, their Community-Industry Response Group, and private security firms. Access to information requests have confirmed extensive surveillance of the THW by Trans Mountain Corp. and their securities contractors. The THW have applied to have additional, unredacted surveillance records released, which is under court review. Further, RCMP intelligence documents framing Indigenous land defenders as “un-Canadian” and threat to Canada’s “national interest,” reveal systemic racial profiling within the RCMP. 

Meanwhile, members of the THW have been repeatedly targeted by RCMP. A total of 15 arrests have been made, including the violent arrest of Kanahus Manuel on October 19, 2019, in which RCMP slammed Manuel to the ground, breaking her wrist. She did not receive adequate treatment for her injuries until 10 hours after her arrest, when she was transported to hospital by ambulance. A lawsuit is currently being sought against the arresting officer.

The THW have also faced ongoing harassment and violence since their establishment. During an incident on April 19, 2020, three men and one woman perpetrated a violent attack on the camp, commandeering a truck and ramming it into the barricades and into a tiny home where people were taking shelter. The investigation into this incident is still ongoing; though individuals were identified, no arrests have been made. 

The Tiny House Warriors have documented their harassment and criminalization and reported on it before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on two occasions. In December 2019, CERD issued a decision calling upon Canada to “immediately cease construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project and cancel all permits, until free, prior and informed consent is obtained from all the Secwepemc people.”

In the decision, the Committee reported that it was:

Disturbed by forced removal, disproportionate use of force, harassment and intimidation by law enforcement officials against indigenous peoples who peacefully oppose large-scale development projects on their traditional territories;

Alarmed by escalating threat of violence against indigenous peoples, such as the reported violent arrest and detainment of a Secwepemc defender against the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project, on 19th October 2019”

It urged Canada to “immediately cease forced eviction” of the Secwepemc peoples, and to guarantee that “the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and associated security and policing services will be withdrawn from their traditional lands.” In November 2020, CERD again called on Canada to respond to this decision. To date, Canada has provided no information on measures taken to address the concerns raised by the UN Committee.

We are deeply concerned about the escalation of intimidation and surveillance of land defenders at the THW camp and in particular the many gender-based threats and acts of violence they have experienced both online and in person. We urge you to heed the decision of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and immediately suspend permits and halt construction until the Secwepemc people give their free, prior and informed consent to the pipeline expansion, and to remove associated security and surveillance technologies from Secwepemc lands. The BC government and Canada’s obligations under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, implemented provincially through the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, as well as the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders are clearly at stake. 

This letter is to affirm our unanimous support for the Tiny House Warriors as well as to express the deepest concern we feel for their safety, civil rights, Indigenous rights, and human rights. We will continue to monitor the situation, and will be watching closely to see how Trans Mountain Corp., its securities contractors, and RCMP conduct themselves in the coming weeks and months. 


Doreen Manuel, Matriarch of the George Manuel Society for Indigenous Peoples 

Naomi Klein, author 

Avi Lewis, filmmaker and Associate Professor of Geography, University of British Columbia 

Russell Diabo, Spokesperson, Truth Before Reconciliation Campaign, Publisher and Editor, First Nations Strategic Bulletin

David Suzuki

Stephen Lewis, Humanitarian, Former UN ambassador

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Linda Black Elk, Food Sovereignty Skills Director, United Tribes Technical College

Rita Wong, writer and Associate Professor, Emily Carr University of Art and Design

Pamela Palmater, Mi'kmaq, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University 

Christi Belcourt, Métis artist

Alexandra Morton, independent biologist 

Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner, Wilderness Committee

Chief Na’Moks, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief 

Harsha Walia

Tia Oros Peters, Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples

Michelle Cook, Divest Invest Protect, Indigenous Human Rights Defenders and Corporate Accountability Program 

Eugene Kung, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law 

Sam Mckay, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI6)

David Nahwegahbow, Anishinaabe (White River First Nation), Founding Partner, Nahwegahbow Corbiere Genoodmagejig Barristers and Solicitors

Chris Albinati, Associate, Nahwegahbow Corbiere Genoodmagejig Barristers and Solicitors 

Kent McNeil, Emeritus Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School

Noah Ross, Lawyer, Noah Ross Law Corporation

Michael Asch, Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta 

Amnesty International Canada (English Section)

Amnistie internationale Canada francophone

Cat Brookes, Co-founder, Anti Police Terror Project, and Executive Director, Justice Teams Network, Oakland, CA, Ohlone Territories 

Shiri Pasternak, Assistant Professor, Criminology, X University

Emma Feltes, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia

European Alliance for the Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples, International NGO

Aktionsgruppe Indianer & Menschenrechte (AGIM), Munich, Germany

Arbeitskreis Indianer Nordamerikas (AKIN), Vienna, Austria

Comité de Solidarité avec les Indiens des Amériques (CSIA-NITASSINAN), Paris, France

Internationales Komitee für die Indigenen Amerikas Schweiz (Incomindios), Zurich, Switzerland

Menschenrechte 3000 e.V. (Human Rights 3000), Freiburg, Germany

Tokata-LPSG RheinMain e.V., Seligenstadt, Germany

Verein zur Unterstützung nordamerikanischerIndianer (ASNAI), Berlin, Germany

Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade


June 18,  2019  

Activists: 'Despite government approval, the TMX Pipeline will never be built'

The Tiny House Warriors responded to today’s official approval of the Transmountain Pipeline by insisting that it will never be built on Secwempemc land, which includes 50% of the proposed pipeline route.

The Tiny House Warriors are a group of Secwepemc land and water defenders who for the past year, have been gathered in a new village of tiny houses on Secwepemc territory near Blue River. Their village site is along the proposed pipeline route and just across from a planned thousand man camp for pipeline construction workers and they are insisting that they will not allow either the man-camp or the pipeline to be built on their territory.

“The Trudeau government does not have the right to put a pipeline through unceded Secwepemc land,” says Kanahus Manuel, a spokesperson for the Tiny House Warriors. “To try to legitimize this illegal act, Canada uses what legal scholars call its “cunning misinterpretation of “consent” which is inconsistent with Indigenous, constitutional and international law.”

“The fact that they have a few sellout Indian Act chiefs supporting their pipeline in no way legitimizes it. The salaries of these sellouts are directly paid by the Department of Indian Affairs and they have no right to speak for the people who are the rightful titleholders of the land.”

“The same goes for the idea of selling this worthless pipeline to Indigenous people and using Indian Trust monies to back this up. This is merely trying to put a brown face on the rape of our land. We will not allow that to happen.”

And while the United Nations is today looking into the genocidal murders of Indigenous women and girls uncovered by the MMIWG Report, we will not allow Trans Mountain pipeline to insert a man camp of a thousand white men into our territory to continue and even accelerate the genocidal rape and murders of our women and girls.”

“Today, we are calling on all of our Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies to join us in this battle to ensure the man-camps are not built and the Trans Mountain pipeline will not pass.”


May 10,  2020 

Letter from Human Rights Symposium attendees in support of Tiny House Warriors, condemning the recent attack at Blue River Camp

On March 14-15, 2020, we attended a human rights symposium in Secwepmec territory in support of the Tiny House Warriors. A hundred people gathered from across these Indigenous lands, all the way from an Inuk community in Labrador to the island of Haida Gwaii on the Pacific, and dozens of places in between. Due to COVID-19, some of us could not attend in person, but we watched on livestream and followed the event through the images, words, and ideas that were posted on social media throughout the event.

We were all witnesses to the incredible efforts of the Tiny House Warriors to protect their lands in the face of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion , which they oppose, and learned about the international human rights law, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal rights law that protects the Secwepemc’s inherent right to occupy and govern their territory. This includes the right to refuse to consent to Canada’s pipeline.

We have come together again now. This time to express our deep concern and absolute condemnation of the violent attack on the Tiny House Warriors camp on Sunday April 19.

Three white men and one white woman rammed vehicles into the barricade that controls access to the Blue River camp. This camp was built and maintained by the Tiny House Warriors as a blockade against the man camps that will host the temporary workforce hired to construct the pipeline expansion.

Canada has a dismal human rights record of violence against Indigenous people and in particular against Indigenous women. Although I may not physically be there at the Blue River Camp, I stand with them, as so many of us do.

- Christi Belcourt, Métis artist and activist

These men tore down the red dresses hanging in memorial of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, stole Kanahus’ truck, and rammed it into a Tiny House where she had fled to escape physical attack. She was verbally abused by drunk men who made misogynistic and racist comments toward her, clearly threatening her safety. For 25 long minutes, Kanahus was under attack late at night at a camp where she and family and community members were also social distancing from Covid-19.

I find it appalling that in 2020 there is still racism, violence, verbal abuse and threats towards defenders and protectors of Indigenous human rights law, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal rights law. I demand that the RCMP find who is responsible for this hate crime and hold them accountable. I and many of my colleagues will be watching closely to see how the RCMP investigation unfolds and how the provincial and federal governments react to this act of terrorism.

- Kirby Muldoe, Gitskan and Tsmisian

At the symposium, we heard from human rights experts, policy analysts, lawyers, and land defenders who spoke to the struggle of Indigenous peoples in Canada to defend their territories and self-determination.

Everyone spoke to the importance of the stand the Tiny House Warriors were taking to carry on the fight of their ancestors to ensure the run of salmon in the rivers, the abundance of berries in the fields, and the purity of the water to drink. But most of all, what they pass down to their children by taking a stand is the knowledge that the land is their responsibility to protect, as well as the strength to fight for it.

This letter is to affirm our unanimous support for the work of the Tiny House Warriors as well as to express the deepest concern we feel for their safety. We will be watching closely to see how the RCMP investigation unfolds. Given the historical and recent record of criminalization of land defenders, and the targeting of Tiny House Warriors by law enforcement in particular, we will be vigilant in ensuring that these concerns are taken seriously and that violent attackers do not enjoy impunity for their hate crimes.

We will also be advocating for the Tiny House Warriors at the highest international human rights bodies in the world for the right to defend their sovereignty against the Trans Mountain pipeline, for which the Canadian government has not secured their consent as required under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada signed. Since BC has adopted UNDRIP in recent legislation, this international legal standard should be brought to bear provincially, too.

Given my experience as an international indigenous human rights attorney for over 30 years, I can only surmise that this obviously premeditated and vicious attack on the Tiny House Warriors has racist roots and extends to their defense of their territories against an oil pipeline destined to carry the world’s dirtiest oil. I hope and expect the Canadian authorities, both federal and provincial to fully investigate this reprehensible attack and bring all of those responsible, including if need be, corporate or governmental accomplices, to justice.

- Alberto Saldamando, Human Right Attorney, Indigenous Environmental Network

To the Tiny House Warriors, we stand behind you. Our eyes and ears will protect you.


David Suzuki

Russ Diabo
Indigenous Policy Analyst, Editor & Publisher, First Nations Strategic Bulletin

Christi Belcourt
Métis artist

Pamela Palmater
Chair of Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University

Harsha Walia

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson
Secretary Treasurer, Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy Program
University of Arizona 

The Water Protector Legal Collective

Divest Invest Protect

Sacred Earth Solar

Indigenous Climate Action

The Council of Canadians / Le Conseil des Canadiens


Linda Black Elk
Food Sovereignty Skills Director, United Tribes Technical College

Alberto Saldamando
Human Right Attorney, Indigenous Environmental Network

Irina Ceric
Professor of Criminology, Kwantlen Polytechnic

Sandra Creamer
Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Australia

Annie Banks, Cat Brooks, the Anti Police-Terror Project, and the Justice Teams Network

Eugene Kung
Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law Association

Avi Lewis
Strategic Director, The Leap

Shiri Pasternak
Research Director, Yellowhead Institute, Prof. Criminology, Ryerson University

Anne Spice
Tlingit, PhD Candidate, Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center

Kirby Muldoe
Gitxsan and Tsimsian

Chris Albinati

Tupac Enrique Acosta

Sam McKay
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug

Billie Jean Gabriel
Syilx Photographer 

D.T. Cochrane
Post-Doctoral Researcher, York University

Emma Feltes
PhD Candidate, UBC Anthropology

Megan Scribe
Norway House, Ryerson University