Probation for Tiny House Warrior who stole Trans-Mountain lock

Pipeline protester sentenced

A prominent member of a controversial First Nations protest group opposed to the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion project has been ordered to spend a year on probation.

Kanahus Manuel, 46, was convicted in May of one count of theft. She stole a lock from a Trans-Mountain pump house in Blue River on Sept. 30, 2019.

On Thursday, Kamloops provincial court Judge Stella Frame granted Manuel a conditional discharge and placed her on a 12-month probation order — meaning the theft will not show up on her criminal record if she completes the probation term without incident.

Court heard Manuel and her twin sister, Nicole, were at the pump house to film a protest video when the lock was stolen.

The Manuel sisters, well-known members of the Tiny House Warriors, are daughters of former Neskonlith Chief Arthur Manuel.

“Ms. Manuel was raised in a well-respected political family that was focused on asserting Aboriginal rights and resisting oppression,” defence lawyer Martin Peters said in court Thursday.

“Before you is a well-educated, serious member of her community who is socially engaged politically in the work of her family.”

Manuel said she considers herself a First Nations “diplomat.”

“We are a good family. We are an honourable family,” she said.

“We do what’s right for our nation. People want me to be quiet, and because I won’t be quiet and silent is why we are targeted over and over. We’re politically persecuted because of our stance as the Manuel family.”

The Manuel sisters have been politically active for decades. They were both arrested in 2001 after erecting a highway blockade near Sun Peaks, protesting development at the mountain resort. Both women were later convicted of intimidation charges and sentenced to serve short jail sentences.

In court on Thursday, Frame said she was “struck” by Kanahus Manuel’s status within her community, as described in a pre-sentence report.

Frame said she believes Manuel did not go to the pump house looking for trouble.

“I accept your purpose in being there was a legitimate purpose and not to step outside the bounds of the law,” she said.

The Crown had been seeking a number of conditions for Manuel while on probation, including a term requiring she complete community work service and another barring her from having any contact with the two private security guards who were present at the pump house. Frame said she felt those measures were not necessary because Manuel has spent two years on strict bail conditions without a hiccup.

The only condition of Manuel’s probation will require her to stay 10 metres away from the pump house — except while driving or walking to another place.

Nicole Manuel was convicted of one count of intimidation stemming from her actions at the pump house alongside her sister. Court heard she menaced, threatened and mocked two security guards, using “derogatory and hurtful language.”

The Crown is seeking house arrest and probation for Nicole Manuel. She will be sentenced at a later date.

Nicole Manuel is one of three Tiny House Warriors who will be back in court next week, on Monday, when lawyers are expected to make final submissions in an unrelated protest trial.

In that case, the trio is accused of storming a private high-level meeting about the Trans-Mountain pipeline on the campus of Thompson Rivers University in 2018, at which First Nations leaders were meeting with government officials.

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