The lawyer for the Hamilton elder arrested after a Wet’suwet’en solidarity rally in November says Crown prosecutors have agreed to drop the charge against him when he next appears in court on 27 January.
Shawn Selway, 73, was arrested Nov. 21 after walking out of a protest in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who are fighting the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in their traditional territory.
He says he helped paint a message on a blocked off section of Bay Street outside the Federal Building in support of the Chiefs. “ALL OUT FOR WEDZIN KWA,” read the bright pink capital letters, using the Wet’suwet’en name for the Morice River in British Columbia. The waterway is at the heart of the dispute over the construction project, which plans to dig a tunnel underneath.
Although he was one of many participants in the street painting, “I was apparently the only one who got arrested,” he told CBC Hamilton in December. “I didn’t see why they were making such a big deal out of it.” He was charged with mischief under $5,000.
Selway – who has stage 4 cancer – recently told CBC Hamilton that his lawyer, Dean Paquette, would seek the charges to be dropped “in view of my illness and the fatigue it is causing”.
When reached by CBC on Monday, Paquette said the Crown had already agreed to drop the charge at Selway’s next court date. Paquette said that while “the precise reason for the withdrawal was not communicated to me”, he had given several reasons in support of the withdrawal, including Selway’s health, but also the public interest in the fight against the pipeline. Coastal Gas Link.
It comes as calls continue to be made for charges to be dropped against housing advocates arrested in connection with the dismantling of an encampment at JC Beemer Park in November.
Ministry of the Attorney General spokesman Brian Gray declined to confirm the charge would be dropped, saying “as this matter is before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment.”
Paquette notes that the city has already approved painting streets for other social causes, such as in rainbow colors that affirm support for the LGBTQ+ community.
“I can imagine the city’s approval to paint the street pink in support of those suffering from breast cancer,” he said. “The issue that has been the subject of civil disobedience could be considered a cause that is attracting a significant level of community support. Shawn did what he did openly and his behavior was designed to draw attention to the fight against the West Coast GasLink pipeline.”
Selway agreed to pay “its proportionate share of the damages to an appropriate charity,” Paquette said. “Finally, he is seriously ill… That in itself could have been enough to justify the decision. It is not typical or routine to drop charges due to poor health, but it does happen from time to time. time.
“Ultimately, it comes down to whether continuing the prosecution is in the public interest. The clear conclusion to be drawn from this decision was that continuing these prosecutions is not in the public interest.”
Selway did not respond to a request for comment on the decision on Monday, but has previously said it is important for Canadians to stand up for Indigenous peoples.
“When the indigenous people call out to us, the rest of the people, to show them our support, we have to come out and do it.”