‘No municipality would be allowed to sign off on such civil restrictions,’ says band member
A man stands at a Coastal GasLink worksite in February 2018. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)
Community members and legal experts are concerned about provisions in a signed benefit agreement between a B.C. First Nation and a pipeline company that asks leadership to dissuade their community members from speaking out against the project.
The specific provision appears in a leaked benefits agreement between Nak’azdli Whut’en, a First Nation located roughly two hours northwest of Prince George, and TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline.
The $6.2-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline will transport natural gas along a 670-kilometre route, from northeastern B.C. to a yet-to-be-constructed liquefied natural gas facility on the coast in Kitimat. The pipeline is a key part of a larger $40-billion project being headed up by LNG Canada that aims to open Canada up to the growing global LNG market.
Coastal GasLink often promotes the fact it has signed agreements with the elected leadership of 20 First Nations along the proposed pipeline route as evidence of support for its project.
But the specifics of these individual agreements have been kept out of the public eye.
“We’re just in the way — like the spotted owl or the caribou. I have no idea how somebody could put that in writing. No municipality would be allowed to sign off on such civil restrictions.”
Among the benefits to Nak’azdli in the leaked agreement are education and training, contracting and employment opportunities, annual legacy payments over the lifetime of the pipeline, and “general project payments” to be paid in three instalments.
But there’s also a condition that the band will “take all reasonable actions” to dissuade its members from doing anything that could “impede, hinder, frustrate, delay, stop or interfere with the project, the project’s contractors, any authorizations or any approval process.” MORE
This is a climate emergency. It’s time to act like it.
From June 9-18, people from coast-to-coast-to-coast are taking action to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet are expected to release their decision on whether they’ll approve the controversial project by June 18.
The Trans Mountain project could add 13 to 15 megatonnes of carbon emissions to the atmosphere, which would be like adding almost 3.8 million cars on the road. This will make it impossible for us to meet our climate targets, which are already far from the scale of emissions cuts that are needed.
At the same time, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) continues to push its “Coastal GasLink” (CGL) fracked gas pipeline.
As the Unist’ot’en Camp writes, “On January 7, 2019, the world watched in shock and horror as the unarmed Indigenous Wet’suwet’en were illegally forced at gunpoint to concede a checkpoint at the entrance to their unceded territories… The international community responded with a massive show of support and solidarity for the Wet’suwet’en protecting their land, with nearly 100 simultaneous demonstrations”.
Council chapters, supporters, and allies took action. It’s time to do so again.
The Unist’ot’en Camp is counting on supporters to mobilize in a big way for the next step in their legal battle. They write that “On the week of June 10, the BC Supreme Court in Prince George will hear Coastal GasLink’s petition for an interlocutory injunction. If they are successful, the interim injunction will be made functionally permanent, allowing CGL to continue with pipeline construction on Unist’ot’en territory without the consent of hereditary chiefs.”
Take Action HERE
Although facing challenges to its project Coastal GasLink is proceeding with construction including building 14 construction camps to house workers along the route of its pipeline. (CGL photo/file
Lawyers submitted oral arguments on jurisdiction to the board in Calgary last week
A constitutional challenge to the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline project is now in the hands of the National Energy Board (NEB).
Michael Sawyer, a Smithers man who made the application to the board argues that British Columbia did not have jurisdiction to approve the project and had it been assessed under the federal jurisdiction it might not have been.
“I don’t believe there was a proper assessment of the true environmental and social and economic costs of this project and what I would like to see happen is that that get done,” he told The Interior News via phone from Calgary.
“My belief is that once that’s done, this project will not be viewed as being in the public interest and probably would not be approved.”
The NEB heard oral summaries from Sawyer’s lawyer William Andrews of Vancouver, Coastal Gaslink’s legal counsel Sander Duncanson, and a number of other intervenors on May 2 and 3 in Calgary.
Andrews argued that although the CGL pipeline will be entirely within B.C., it will be functionally integrated with TransCanada’s federally-regulated Nova Gas Transmission Limited (NGTL) system and thus should fall under federal jurisdiction. MORE
The courts in Canada are grappling with a decision central to the relationship between Canadian and traditional indigenous laws.
The dispute involves the construction of a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline in the province of British Columbia.
It’s a project which has exposed a rift between elected and hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en people, who disagree about whether to allow the pipeline to be built through traditional lands.
The elected councils have jurisdiction within the boundaries of the reservations to administer federal government legislation, but not the wider traditional territory which the pipeline would pass through.
The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en nation are stewards and protecters of 22,000 square km (13,670 square miles) of traditional territory, outside the reservations.
They are concerned about the impact of the project on their land and natural resources. SOURCE
On Jan. 7 the RCMP, including members of the Tactical and Emergency Response Teams, attacked and dismantled the Gidimt’en checkpoint on Wet’suwet’en territory in Northern British Columbia, arresting 14 people. The Gidim’ten checkpoint was set up in December 2018 after the B.C. Supreme Court granted TransCanada Coastal GasLink an injunction to remove another camp, the Unist’ot’en checkpoint, which was established in 2009 to control and block access by pipeline corporations to Wet’suwet’en territory.
The Unist’ot’en camp website explained that while they expected “a large response, we did not expect a military level invasion where our unarmed women and elders were faced with automatic weapons and bulldozers”.
After the initial attack on the Gidimt’en checkpoint, the hereditary chiefs came to an agreement with the RCMP to allow the oil corporation access to do pre-construction work behind the Unist’ot’en checkpoint as specified in the injunction, while vowing that “this is not over”.
The Unist’ot’en have explained that
“while the chiefs have a responsibility to protect the land, they also have a duty to protect our land defenders. Our people faced an incredible risk of injury or death and that is not a risk we are willing to take for an interim injunction. 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.”
Judge agrees it is in ‘public interest’ for Crown to intervene as those arrested make first court appearance
Molly Wickham brought a talking stick with eagle feathers to B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George on Tuesday. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC)
B.C.’s attorney general has been asked to intervene after the controversial arrests of 14 people in a dispute between an LNG pipeline company and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
The intervention request came Monday from a B.C. Supreme Court judge in Prince George. Madame Justice Church agreed with a defence application, stating it is in the “public interest to invite the Crown to intercede.”
The ruling came as most of the 14 people arrested by RCMP last month made their first appearance in court. All are facing contempt proceedings for defying a court order while blocking Coastal GasLink’s access to a potential pipeline route.
“The bigger issue has to do with our hereditary system and with government and industry asserting jurisdiction on our territories,” she said outside court. “They have to look at the evidence and see if they want to proceed with these charges. It may not be in the public interest.” MORE
STATEMENT by Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidumt’en Territory: Coastal GasLink and RCMP Violating Gidimt’en Sovereignty and Own Agreement.
RCMP and miliary invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory. Photo courtesy: Michael Toledano / unistoten.camp
January 28, 2019 – Over the weekend Coastal GasLink willfully, illegally, and violently destroyed Gidimt’en cultural infrastructure and personal property on Gidimt’en territory without our consent.
This was our infrastructure to be on our land and exercise our land-based culture. Coastal GasLink’s attack on our cultural practices – with RCMP’s active complicity – is an attack on our sovereignty and an attack on our way of life.
In full: https://bit.ly/2FVoFDb
Canada’s Indian Act blamed for creating a gridlock in northern British Columbia where some hereditary clan chiefs say a liquefied natural gas pipeline doesn’t have their consent.
VANCOUVER — Canada’s minister of Crown-Indigenous relations is pointing her finger at the Indian Act for creating a gridlock in northern British Columbia where some hereditary clan chiefs say a liquefied natural gas pipeline doesn’t have their consent.
Carolyn Bennett would not say whether she believes the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have jurisdiction over the 22,000 square kilometres they claim as their traditional territory, saying that it is up to each community to determine its leadership structure.
But she says the situation is an example of why the federal government is working to increase First Nations capacity for self-governance, including a new funding program to rebuild hereditary structures. MORE
Chief Judy Wilson, secretary treasurer of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said she was planning to attend the meeting and other members of the group had already flown to Smithers. (JUSTIN TANG / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Hereditary chiefs opposed to a natural gas pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia are holding a gathering of solidarity on Wednesday that is expected to attract Indigenous leaders from across British Columbia.
…the difficulty that the hereditary chiefs have had in getting their authority recognized by industry and government is familiar.
Elected band councils are based on a colonial model of governance, she said. Under the tradition of her Secwepemc First Nation in the B.C. Interior, title belongs to all of the people within the nation.
“Collectively, people hold title for our nation.” MORE
The confrontations with the Wet’suwet’en Nation show the Federal Government isn’t interested in real reconciliation
Photo Maggie McCutchen
The relationship between the Canadian government and Indigenous peoples continues to be one of reconciliation only when it serves federal interests…
The nearby ecosystem, as well as the 20 First Nations surrounding the pipeline will constantly be at risk of pollution and environmental destruction from normal use and from accidents, but that’s not all.
The aggression shown by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police demonstrates just how hypocritical Canadians are when people brag about Canada’s human rights record. While we uplift this idea that we are everyone’s “friendly and progressive neighbors to the north”, it is finally becoming increasingly clear that it is a very selective kind of progressivism. The kind that inexplicably still does not extend to the peoples that have lived on this land for centuries longer than the oldest of colonizers. MORE