UNBC Students Arrested in North Dakota Pipeline Protest – Update
Prince George, B.C. – Two UNBC graduate students were arrested Thursday during a pipeline protest in North Dakota.
UNBC has confirmed Katriona Auerbach and Nicole Schafenacker, were among over 140 people arrested in protest of the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline.
According to the Associated Press, the 1,172-mile pipeline runs close to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
Protesters at the site, which includes both Native Americans and environmental activists, argue it could have a negative impact on drinking water and would disturb native burial sites in the area.
Dr. Daniel Weeks responded to the arrests and expressed his concerns regarding them this morning.
“Well, certainly we’re always concerned whenever any of our students or anyone in our community is in perhaps a challenging situation,” he said.
“I don’t have a lot of details yet. My understanding is that their arraignment is this morning so we’ll likely know a little more once that’s occurred.”
In the meantime, he’s been in touch with Schafenacker’s mother.
“And just reassured her as best I could that if there’s anything we can do we’re certainly there to support our students and the community.”
He said the student’s supervisor, Dr. Sarah de Leeuw, is also concerned as well as reaching out to the families to see what can be done.
Beyond that, he doesn’t have much more information.
“It’s my understanding that they were involved in a peaceful protest, exercising their conscience about the events down there and as such I fully support their activities there and we’ll have to wait and see what the legal system in the US has to say.”
Is he concerned for their safety?
“Whenever someone wants to go out and make a statement like this, there are risks involved and I assume they knew those risks when they went down there,” said Weeks.
“My only concern is that they’re being treated fairly and respectfully and I have no reason at this point to suggest that they’re not so let’s just wait and see what happens and then we’ll take the steps from there.”
* Editors Note: Because these women are before the courts, 250News will not be allowing any comments on this story*