Three Tiny House Warriors who stormed a high-level 2018 meeting between Trans Mountain executives, government officials, and First Nations leaders, spilling red paint on attendees and damaging property, have been found guilty on multiple counts.
Nicole Manuel, Chantel Manuel, and Isha Jules were charged following a Dec. 10, 2018, incident on the campus of Thompson Rivers University, where representatives from Natural Resources Canada and Trans Mountain had rented meeting space to sit down with regional First Nations leaders. The invite-only meeting was being helmed by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci.
Court heard the accused were among a group of protesters who showed up at the event, where they yelled and chanted, intentionally spilled red paint, and attempted to crash the meeting.
They were charged with mischief for allegedly spilling the red paint, causing a disturbance for disrupting the meeting, and assault for trying to force their way past security and police. The trio stood trial in May and Kamloops provincial court Judge Stella Frame handed down her decision on Wednesday.
Chantel Manuel, described in court as the leader of the protesters, was charged with two counts of assault and one count each of causing a disturbance and mischief. She was convicted of all but the mischief charge.
Nicole Manuel was charged with one count each of mischief, assault and causing a disturbance. She was convicted on all counts.
Jules was charged with two counts of assault and one count each of causing a disturbance and mischief. He was acquitted on both assault charges but found guilty of mischief and causing a disturbance.
Jules was the only one of the three who made it into the meeting room. Court heard he waved a paint-soaked cloth in the room and “ranted and raved,” bringing one First Nations elder to tears.
Frame said it was clear the group was there to disrupt the proceedings.
“They scream, they use loud hailers and drum loudly by the doors and next to security and police,” the judge said, referencing video evidence played in court.
“Their intention in this action was not to communicate a message but to disrupt a consultation meeting. That they are opposed to the pipeline is obvious. That they had no intention of engaging in a dialogue is evident in the language they used. They denied the authority of those conducting and participating in the meeting.”
Frame went out of her way a number of times to make it clear the offences were “not trifling.”
“This was not a minor disturbance,” she said. “It disrupted the business of the building as well as those who were tasked with conducting the meeting.”
Lawyers will meet next week to set a date for sentencing. The three remain free on bail.