John Ridsdale, the British Columbian chief who led a protest against a natural gas pipeline in B.C., has been ordered to pay $1,500 for shooting his neighbour’s dog on her front porch. The dog was taken to a vet by the RCMP but died the next morning.
Ridsdale was slated to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow but was unable to do so due to court proceedings.
Ridsdale, who is one of the chiefs of British Columbia’s Indigenous Wet’suwet’en people “spent six weeks by himself on the land in northern B.C. after shooting dead a neighbour’s dog while drunk and has planned a ‘shame feast’ to further express his remorse,” the National Post reported on Friday.
On Thursday, Ridsdale, who became a national figure in his efforts to halt the construction of a natural gas pipeline in the region, pled guilty to a weapons charge and killing the dog, which the owner says left her traumatized. The Crown and defence agreed to place Ridsdale on three years’ probation for the crime.
Ridsdale has been ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to the owner of the dog, a pitbull named Bailey. He was also ordered to pay $525 to the RCMP, which paid a veterinarian to help save the dog’s life. The court has also ordered Ridsdale to undergo anger management and violence counselling over the incident.
The dog’s owner, Elizabeth George, said in a victim impact statement that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder since the incident, and has been prescribed anti-anxiety medication and mental health counselling. Ridsdale, she said, could have injured her or one of her family members while shooting the dog.
“I used to go for walks daily,” said George, whose statement was read by the prosecutor. “Now when I go out my anxiety goes through the roof. If I do go out and I have to go by his house, my heart races and I’m scared. But I act like I’m not scared because I don’t want to give him the satisfaction I’m feeling this way.”
“My actions were beyond what I have ever done in my life. Deeply and truly, I do apologize for all I brought upon them,” said Ridsdale to the court in a video call. “Any such incident should never have happened and never will happen again.”
National Post reported:
Ridsdale’s defence attorney Michael Murphey said his client, as well as calling police himself, almost immediately asked other hereditary chiefs what he should do to make up for the act. They recommended self-banishment to the bush, though he has mobility issues from a serious back injury.
“He went on the land to get grounded, centred, think of things in a more reasoned manner, begin the process of bringing some balance back to the community,” said the lawyer.
The shame feast has twice had to be cancelled because of COVID-19 but will be rescheduled, Murphey said.
The lawyer also noted that his client’s suffered the effects of having one parent who suffered horribly in residential schools and another who was dispatched to a farm at an early age to provide what was likely free labour. Ridsdale himself escaped being sent to one of the schools because his parents had the children hide in the bush when authorities came to collect them, said the lawyer.