EDITORIAL – Protest at Trans Mountain work site was uneventful theatre


An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

BY ALL ACCOUNTS, an anti-pipeline protest at the Kamloops airport last week went exactly the way it should. A protester chained herself to the gate at the Trans Mountain work site, was removed without incident and charged with violating an injunction.

It was an excellent case of recognition of the right to peaceful protest.

The protester was identified as part of a group calling itself the Secwepemc Woman’s Sacred Fire Council.

The strategy at protests is often to create interaction with police, video tape it and post it on social media to generate support for the cause. It’s a form of theatre. The arrest at the airport was characterized by one supporter as the RCMP “displacing and kidnapping a woman from her own territories” but it looked pretty benign — anything but a kidnapping.

The protester and police officers engaged in polite conversation before she was presented with a copy of the injunction and driven away, smiling for photos. Lorelei Dick will face a civil charge.

The whole thing lacked the drama of so many other protests, though a few F-bombs were uttered for effect. And, it provided the basis for an online petition asking for money to support the fight against the pipeline. So far it’s collected a few hundred dollars.

It also acted as a vehicle to re-iterate the schism between elected band councils who support the pipeline, and those who characterize them as “sellouts.”

The protesters describe themselves as the true “guardians, stewards and protectors” of the land, and claim to speak for the Secwepemc.

There will be a lot of this sort of thing in the coming months — it’s already happening up and down the route of the pipeline. Police handled this one well — let’s hope other protests are as peaceful and uneventful as this one.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8658 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – Protest at Trans Mountain work site was uneventful theatre

  1. Ian MacKenzie // September 8, 2020 at 8:09 AM // Reply

    The quiet symbolism of one woman representing the protest of an entire ethnicity against the loss of land, children, and history is quite moving to me. I am sure that the “Supreme Court” of our province will not treat her kindly. I would like to donate more than just my sentiments to her cause, and have searched unsuccessfully for the online petition Mel mentions in this dismissive article. Can anybody help?

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