News Indigenous Pipeline Opponents Seek Court OK for Blockade Protest

Clouds hang over the island of Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, Canada, on Aug. 26, 2016. Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    • Wet’suwet’en First Nation members seek to stop court order preventing their blockade
    • Coastal GasLink pipeline construction in British Columbia would be boon to Canada’s LNG industry

A First Nation in northern British Columbia will seek June 10 to quash orders preventing them from blockading a natural gas pipeline seen as crucial to Canada’s nascent liquefied natural gas sector.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation will ask the the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Prince George to reverse a temporary injunction that allows Calgary-based TC Energy Corp. to proceed with construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police broke up a blockade of First Nations members and their supporters Jan. 7 on a remote logging road after the orders were made in December.

The national police force made over a dozen arrests, but those criminal charges later dropped.

‘Unprecedented Support’

TC Energy, which until recently was known as TransCanada Corp., wants the orders made permanent.

“There is unprecedented support for this important natural gas pipeline project from local and Indigenous communities along the route,” Suzanne Wilton, a spokesperson for TC Energy-owned Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd., said in an email June 7. “The continuance of the injunction will ensure continued safe and unimpeded access.”

The Wet’suwet’en First Nation opposes Coastal GasLink because of environmental concerns, and the pipeline’s representatives have tried to subvert its authority by engaging with Indigenous organizations that do not represent Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the First Nation said in a February court filing. MORE

Province, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs announce reconciliation

A potlatch feast will be held in March by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to discuss with clans.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs lead a march in mid-January down Smithers Main Street in opposition to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline. (Chris Gareau photo)

Work on reconciliation is moving ahead between the Province and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

A media release late Thursday afternoon reads that a bahtlats (potlatch or feast) will be hosted by the hereditary chiefs in March to share information and initiate discussion with the Wet’suwet’en clans and house groups.

The ultimate goal is for B.C. to affirm Wet’suwet’en rights and title.

While the release stresses the effort is not about any one project, it comes as legal action against and resistance to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline is still in full force, with the company moving forward on construction of a work camp south of Houston and the Unist’ot’en camp of the Wet’suwet’en Dark House accusing the company of activity going beyond an interim injunction and agreement with the RCMP. MORE

Judy Wilson’s Message for Canadians: ‘The Land Defenders Are Doing This for Everybody’

RCMP raids in Wet’suwet’en territory can’t bring justice, reconciliation or a better future, Neskonlith chief says.

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Chief Judy Wilson: ‘We have to change to ensure that our young people have a future. That’s what the Indigenous land defenders are talking about when they say we need to protect the land and the water.’ Photo by Zoë Ducklow.

What are your thoughts on how governments are responding to the RCMP action in the Wet’suwet’en territory?

I was just reading Premier [John] Horgan’s response to the Unist’ot’en, and I think he was trying to stay on the middle ground. He mentioned the bands who signed these agreements [to allow the pipeline], but to me, the issue is clearly about the hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs. They are the proper titleholders to their unceded territory, and they already made a decision. They said no pipelines in their territory.

B.C. chiefs gather in Smithers to support Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

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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