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20 Mar 2020

Stephanie Wood, The Narwhal

Coronavirus forces Wet’suwet’en to explore online talks on rights & title agreement

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An all-clans meeting to discuss Wet’suwet’en rights and title could be moved online as the COVID-19 crisis upends plans for in-person talks, according to a spokesperson for the Gidimt’en... The draft arrangement on rights and title does not address the $6.6 billion Coastal GasLink project, which Premier John Horgan has said will continue and which a number of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs still oppose. Coastal GasLink continues to have workers on site, but said in a statement that non-essential workers are working from home and that the company is primarily employing B.C. workers.

... Wet’suwet’en supporters launched an online campaign this week to raise awareness around the ongoing construction of the pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory amid the pandemic. A tweet from Gidmit’en Checkpoint on Tuesday expressed concern over COVID-19 and industrial activity associated with Coastal GasLink, saying “we do not need any more stress on our local health systems and people.”

... The federal government announced funding for Indigenous peoples to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. “With the COVID-19 health emergency comes the urgency of alleviating the burdens placed upon Indigenous and vulnerable communities who must confront systemic under-resourcing and barriers to healthcare on a daily basis,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip in an online statement.