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27 Jan 2022

Brandi Morin, Al Jazeera

Canada: Indigenous land defenders continue to oppose Coastal GasLink pipeline despite violent arrests; incl. co. comment

Wet'suwet'en Solidarity Banner

"'We are the power': Canada's Indigenous land defenders pledge to fight on." 24 Jan. 2022

... For years, Indigenous land defenders like Freda have sought to protect their lands and sacred headwaters from the construction of a pipeline.

First proposed in 2012, the 670-kilometre- (417-mile)-long Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline is intended to carry liquified natural gas (LNG) from northeast BC to a terminal on the coast in Kitimat. A portion of it is set to pass through the Wet’suwet’en Nation - 22,000 square kilometres of unceded territory that was never legally signed over to the Crown or to Canada.

... Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs from the nation’s five clans and 13 houses oppose the multibillion-dollar pipeline and say they were not consulted before the province approved it.

... [S]ince the construction of the pipeline began in 2018, there have been three militarised raids by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on resistance camps established by Indigenous land defenders on Wet’suwet’en land - the latest of which was in November [2021], when RCMP armed with assault rifles, dogs and chainsaws arrested more than 30 land defenders, supporters and journalists.

... Natasha Westover, Coastal GasLink's External Issues and Media Lead, told Al Jazeera in an email: "At Coastal GasLink, we respect the rights of individuals to lawfully, safely and peacefully express their point of view. Our top priority remains the safety of those in the area, including our workforce, contractors, and the Indigenous and local community members."

... RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Madonna Saunderson told Al Jazeera: "As with previous enforcement operations, the RCMP took the remote location of the CGL workers' camps along the Morice FSR [Forest Service Road] into account, as well as the unpredictable nature of what we could be facing in the area."