Canada: Indigenous activists arrested by police for blocking construction of Coastal Gaslink pipeline
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested 14 indigenous activists protecting a proposed natural gap pipeline that would run through the traditional territory of B.C.'s Wet’suwet’en First Nation. The police were enforcing a December 2018 court injunction that gave Coastal GasLink (a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp.) access to the road where Wet’suwet’en people against the pipeline had erected a checkpoint. TransCanada says it signed agreements with all First Nations along the proposed pipeline route. However, hereditary chiefs have said that under Wet'suwet'en law the band councils don't have authority or jurisdiction over what happens in the nation's traditional territory and have "condemn[ed] the RCMP’s use of intimidation, harassment, and ongoing threats of forceful intervention and removal of the Wet’suwet’en land defenders from Wet’suwet’en unceded territory."
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Author: Chantelle Bellrichard, CBC
After three days of talks with the RCMP, the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs say an agreement has been reached over the enforcement of an interim injunction order to allow pipeline workers into the nation's traditional territory... They have agreed to allow the company access to do pre-construction work as specified in the interim injunction order for the time being... "We are adamantly opposed to this proposed project and that will never change, but we are here to ensure the safety of our people," said Chief Na'Moks.
... Coastal GasLink president Rick Gateman... described the talks as productive and respectful. "As a result of these discussions, we have worked out many of the details that are required for us to have free access to the bridge and beyond," he said... The chiefs have said Thursday's deal doesn't mean they're consenting to the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built through their traditional territory. "This is not consultation or accommodation in any sense," said Na'Moks... LNG Canada, whose liquefied natural gas export terminal the pipeline connects to, issued a statement... "Despite opposition Coastal GasLink is currently facing, LNG Canada has every intention to continue to advance our project and maintain our construction schedule to deliver jobs and economic benefits to First Nations, local residents and British Columbians," CEO Andy Calitz said.
Author: Jorge Barrera, CBC
In addition to opposition from the hereditary chiefs of Wet'suwet'en Nation, the proposed Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline faces another battle that TransCanada says could put the project at risk. The National Energy Board (NEB) launched a multi-step process last fall to determine whether the $4.8-billion pipeline should fall under federal jurisdiction and perhaps undergo further regulatory review — potentially delaying the project for months... The NEB case was triggered by Smithers, B.C., resident Michael Sawyer, an environmental consultant with over two decades of experience in Alberta's energy sector, who believes the project should fall under federal jurisdiction. TransCanada said in filings from an earlier phase in the process that if the NEB even entertained the jurisdictional question it would have grave implications. "It would create regulatory uncertainty and inefficiency at a time when these issues are jeopardizing Canada's global competitiveness," said TransCanada. "It would put real, tangible benefits to people in B.C., including First Nations, at risk." The company said in an emailed statement that it was "disappointed" with the NEB's October 2018 decision to review jurisdictional arguments.
Author: Unist'ot'en Camp
The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have by absolutely no means agreed to let the Coastal GasLink pipeline tear through our traditional territories. On January 7th at the Gidumt’en access point, the RCMP used excessive and brutal force... While the chiefs have a responsibility to protect the land, they also have a duty to protect our land defenders... The agreement we made allows Coastal GasLink to temporarily work behind the Unist’ot’en gate. This will continue to be a waste of their time and resources as they will not be building a pipeline in our traditional territory... There can be no question now that this is an issue of Wet’suwet’en Rights and Title. We have demonstrated that this fight is about more than a pipeline; it is about the right of Indigenous peoples around the world to exercise Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.
Author: Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch
A standoff between indigenous activists and TransCanada over a proposed natural gas pipeline in British Columbia (BC) came to a head Monday as Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stormed a checkpoint set up by protesters to block construction, arresting 14... The RCMP were enforcing a court injunction issued Dec. 14, 2018 saying that Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada, could access unceded Wetsuwet'en territory in order to build a pipeline. The company says it has approval from the elected representatives of all 20 First Nation groups along the pipeline route, but the hereditary Wetsuwet'en leaders say that they are the ones who control access to the land, and they do not want any fossil fuel development to take place on it.
Author: Leyland Cocco, The Guardian
Indigenous protesters in Canada have called a growing police presence near their makeshift checkpoint “an act of war”, as tensions mount over a stalled pipeline project in northern British Columbia. In defiance of a court order, dozens of protesters have gathered on a logging road... to block the construction of a natural gas pipeline... On Monday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced they would enforce a court order to remove the demonstrators from the area... “The conflict between the oil and gas industries, indigenous communities, and governments all across the province has been ongoing for a number of years. This has never been a police issue. In fact, the BC RCMP is impartial and we respect the rights of individuals to peaceful, lawful and safe protest,” they said in a statement... The company has previously said it has the support of all elected indigenous leaders along the proposed route, but Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have signaled they do not support the project – and argue that elected band leaders are not in the position to negotiate with the company.
Author: Union of BC Indian Chiefs
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is gravely concerned about the safety and well-being of the Wet’suwet’en land defenders as the RCMP set up nearby the Gidimt’en camp to enforce the interim injunction from the BC Supreme Court in December 2018, which supports Coastal Gaslink beginning construction on a 700km natural gas pipeline and transformation plant... UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip stated “We strongly condemn the RCMP’s use of intimidation, harassment, and ongoing threats of forceful intervention and removal of the Wet’suwet’en land defenders from Wet’suwet’en unceded territory... The RCMP’s actions are in direct contradiction to both governments’ stated commitments to true reconciliation, and to full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which is a global human rights standard."