Comment to the Tyee article below:
Coastal Gas & LNG Canada have enough cash to divert a pipeline around the West’sueten land.
With B.C. sill in the throes of land claims settlements (which at the current pace are likely to go on for generations) indigenous rights must be respected.
‘The World Is Watching’: Wet’suwet’en Chiefs Call for Government-to-Government Talks, Pipeline resisters outline demands, say police need to reveal plans by Amanda Follett Hosgood, Jan 8, 2020, TheTyee.ca
Amanda Follett Hosgood lives and writes amidst the stunning mountains and rivers of Wet’suwet’en territory. Find her on Twitter @amandajfollett.
Yesterday, on the one-year anniversary of a police action that garnered international attention, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs reiterated their opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline and said they will only deal directly with provincial decision-makers and British Columbia’s RCMP commissioner.
“We will never change our stance on Coastal GasLink. We will never accept violence on our territory. We are a peaceful people. We will conduct ourselves in a peaceful and honourable manner. We expect Canada, British Columbia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to do the same,” said Chief Na’Moks of the Tsayu clan.
Three days earlier, the hereditary chiefs evicted the pipeline company and closed access to the area. The pipeline would carry fracked gas from northeast B.C. to liquefication plants on the coast at Kitimat destined for offshore markets.
The chiefs were responding to a Dec. 31 B.C. Supreme Court decision that ruled in favour of an injunction allowing CGL to complete pipeline construction. Some Wet’suwet’en fear it could also lead to the destruction of two camps along the Morice West Forest Service Road.
While being used for cultural purposes, the camps, which were constructed by the Gidimt’en clan in December 2018 and by the Unist’ot’en house group a decade earlier, were initially blocking road access and preventing CGL from constructing the pipeline.
On Jan. 7, 2019, 14 people were arrested when police enforced an interim injunction by removing the roadblock at 44 kilometres on the Morice West Forest Service Road, near Gidimt’en camp. Three days later, those at Unist’ot’en camp stood back and allowed workers to enter after an agreement was reached with hereditary chiefs.
Last month, the Guardian revealed that RCMP officers were permitted to use “lethal overwatch” and to “use as much violence toward the gate as you want” during the Jan. 7 police action.
On Tuesday, Chief Na’Moks said the chiefs would only deal with B.C.’s police commissioner. [Very wise!]
In an emailed statement, Dawn Roberts, director in charge of communication services for B.C. RCMP, confirmed that talks are being planned between the Wet’suwet’en chiefs and RCMP.
“Commissioner (Brenda) Lucki has acknowledged the request and fully supports deputy commissioner Jennifer Strachan, the commanding officer of the B.C. RCMP, who is well-positioned as our decision-maker in these matters,” she said.
“Deputy commissioner Strachan, along with her senior management team, have been actively engaged in facilitating a discussion with all the stakeholders. That remains our utmost priority at this time and [we] are optimistic that a meeting can take place immediately between the various stakeholders involved to find common ground and a peaceful resolution.”
Roberts added that frontline officers stationed at the Community-Industry Safety Office along the Morice forest road would continue to patrol the corridor.
On Tuesday, CGL posted aerial photos on its website showing what it described as “more than 100 trees” felled across the road between kilometres 39 and 42.
Chief Na’Moks said the logs were in place to protect Wet’suwet’en people.
“We must look at the history of the RCMP one year ago and what they did to our people and the guests on our territory,” he said. “They are not being clear to us on what their plans are. We are very clear and very open on what we do. We need to know what their plans are.”
He added that the chiefs, as decision-makers for the Wet’suwet’en, would only deal directly with other governing bodies and would not respond to CGL’s invitation to meet, which was posted to its website yesterday.
“If there is going to be a meeting, it will be between the decision-makers. That will be British Columbia, Canada, and we would like to meet with the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We will not meet with local officials. We are the decision-makers on this land. We will only meet with the decision-makers. Coastal GasLink is merely a proponent and they are uninvited to this territory,” Na’Moks said. [ALSO VERY WISE]
In a statement emailed Tuesday afternoon, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources gave no indication that it intends on meeting with the chiefs.
“With regard to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the project has received necessary provincial permits and approvals to proceed with construction which is underway. On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court affirmed that the company is lawfully permitted to conduct their work. The company has been clear that it would like to speak with hereditary chiefs involved to facilitate access. We encourage representatives to engage with the company to achieve a resolution that respects the Court’s decision and ensures safety for all,” the statement reads. [Govt cop out, as usual, inappropriately pushing impacted people to “negotiate” with their abusers, in this case, Coastal GasLink]
During Tuesday’s press briefing, the chiefs called upon governments, RCMP and industry with the following demands:
- That the province cease construction of the CGL pipeline project and suspend its permits.
- That the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous rights to free, prior and informed consent are respected by the state and RCMP.
- That RCMP and other policing services be withdrawn from Wet’suwet’en territory.
- That governments, RCMP and industry respect Wet’suwet’en laws and governance, and that they refrain from using force to access Wet’suwet’en lands and remove its people.
In November, the province unanimously passed Bill 41, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, making B.C. the first province to recognize the declaration, which states that Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands and have the right to determine what happens on their territories.
Also Tuesday, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs posted a statement to its website supporting the Wet’suwet’en chiefs’ rejection of the injunction decision and eviction of CGL. “The UBCIC Chiefs Council fully supports the efforts of Indigenous Nations to ensure that their inherent Title and Rights are unconditionally recognized and upheld,” the statement reads.
Chief Na’Moks also spoke to a letter issued by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last month calling on Canada to halt projects without Indigenous consent, such as the Site C dam, Trans Mountain pipeline and CGL.
“The world is watching. The United Nations is watching. This is not just the Wet’suwet’en. This is on the world stage and once again, I’ll reiterate time and time again, the Wet’suwet’en will remain peaceful people, but we will maintain our law,” Na’Moks said.
“We will never, ever forget what happened on this day last year. It goes into Wet’suwet’en history. It goes into British Columbia history. It goes into Canadian history, and it is implanted for us forever.”
Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs’ Media Advisory
January 7th, 2020
Late in the day January 4th, 2020 the Wet’suwet’en House Chiefs representing all 5 clans oversaw the successful eviction of Coastal Gaslink (CGL) employees from Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en territories. An eviction letter was provided to security at Site 9A and the eviction was done peacefully. The eviction letter clearly stated that workers were not to return to the territory without the consent of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
Coastal GasLink workers have not been permitted to access the territory to continue work since the eviction.
As far as we know, CGL intends to commit trespass on Wet’suwet’en lands and continue construction. They will likely rely on RCMP violence to force their way into our territories once more.
Coastal Gaslink has framed their eviction from our territories as an “Unist’ot’en Action,” but this action was taken collectively, in accordance with ‘Anuk nu’at’en, our laws, and on behalf of all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en nation.
There will be no access to Gidimt’en and Dark House territories without the free, prior, and informed consent of the hereditary chiefs.
Today marks the one year anniversary of a heavily militarized raid on Wet’suwet’en territory at the Gidimt’en checkpoint where Wet’suwet’en people and their guests were forcibly removed by the RCMP tactical teams, including snipers authorized to use lethal force.
The province has proclaimed they will implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes Free, Prior and Informed Consent, but has failed to intervene in this issue.
Currently, the province, federal government, RCMP, and CGL have all violated Wet’suwet’en law.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has called upon Canada to immediately halt the construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline until Wet’suwet’en people grant our free, prior, and informed consent to the project. The committee urges Canada to withdraw RCMP from our territories and to prohibit the use of force and lethal weapons against our people.
The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs demand the following:
- That the province cease construction of the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline project and suspend permits.
- That the UNDRIP and our right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are respected by the state and RCMP.
- That the RCMP and associated security and policing services be withdrawn from Wet’suwet’en lands, in agreement with the most recent letter provided by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimiation’s (CERD) request.
- That the provincial and federal government, RCMP and private industry employed by CGL respect our laws and our governance system, and refrain from using any force to access our lands or remove our people.
There is no access to Wet’suwet’en territory without our consent. We are the title holders, and the Province must address the issue of our title if they want to gain access to our lands.
RCMP seeking to resolve Coastal GasLink pipeline crisis without resorting to ‘police enforcement’, Photos provided by the company to the Financial Post show dozens of trees felled along a forestry service road in the contested area by Geoffrey Morgan, January 7, 2020, Financial Post
CALGARY – Senior RCMP officers are in contact with First Nations protestors opposed to the $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline, trying to negotiate a way for construction work on the natural gas pipeline to resume in north-central British Columbia.
[RCMP have zero authority to “negotiate” in this serious matter; OGC, NEB now CER, and most notably Alberta gov’t also have zero authority to negotiate in the matter. Besides, what tools are the RCMP using to “negotiate?” Scare tactics like they pushed on me when they bullyingly invaded my private property in 2009, clearly operating as thugs for Encana, shortly after my legal papers were served on the company and its prostitutes, AER and Alberta Govt?]
“Or priority is to engage with CGL, Indigenous communities and government to facilitate a resolution without police enforcement,” RCMP Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said in an emailed statement, adding that the force’s senior commander “has already been in direct contact with representatives of all these stakeholder groups, including the Hereditary Chiefs.”
Over the weekend, a breakaway group of hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs that oppose the natural gas pipeline asked the RCMP to “refrain from interference” in the dispute over the project that will link gas fields near Dawson Creek to the $40-billion LNG Canada export project in the coastal community of Kitimat.
Coastal GasLink said Monday that trees had been felled along the forestry access road leading to a pipeline work camp in contravention of the order, but the company said it didn’t know who cut the trees. Asked how access had been restricted, the company provided aerial photos to the Financial Post that were taken Monday showing dozens of trees along the road in the contested area.
The standoff has escalated tensions between the pipeline company, the protestors and highlighted divisions between elected and hereditary chiefs in British Columbia. All 20 elected band councils along the route have signed benefits agreements with the pipeline and connected $40-billion LNG Canada project, but a group of hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation bands are looking to prevent work in the middle of the route.
Even though elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs and band councils have signed onto support the project, the hereditary chiefs issued TC Energy Corp., the company building the pipeline, an eviction order over the weekend.
In a press conference Tuesday, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief Na’moks said there will be no access to the First Nation territories without consent from the hereditary chiefs, demanding that the province stop construction of the pipeline and that the RCMP withdraw from their lands.
The hereditary chiefs said they were acting in accordance with their laws on behalf of the five clans of the Wet’suwet’en nation.
“The province has proclaimed they will implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes free, prior and informed consent, but has failed to intervene in this issue,” the chiefs said in a statement.
The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs were not available for an interview Tuesday.
Suzanne Wilton, a spokesperson for Calgary-based TC Energy, said the company is in the process of remobilizing 1,000 workers along the pipeline route through British Columbia, where preparatory work is underway and work camps are under construction. At this rate, the company plans to put pipes, which are being delivered along the pipeline route, in the ground this summer.
But Wilton confirmed the company’s security guards have abided by the eviction order and have left the area near Houston, B.C.
The company will not send workers to the area at this time.
In a release, Coastal GasLink has said, “We believe that dialogue is preferable to confrontation and will delay re-mobilization near (the workforce camp) while engagement and a negotiated resolution remain possible.”
“Based on Chief Namox’s public comments, we anticipate a positive response to our meeting request and hope that a meeting can be set up quickly to resolve the issues at hand,” the company said in a release published Tuesday.
In January 2019, RCMP officers enforced an interim injunction order for the pipeline, arresting protestors and removing obstacles at a blockade in the same region in what became a nationally televised confrontation and incident.
Last week, the Supreme Court of British Columbia extended that injunction order in a ruling that also included an enforcement order, providing the RCMP with a “mandate” to ensure access to work sites.
The situation has inflamed tensions across British Columbia, a province which has been negotiating agreements and treaties for years with First Nations groups on vast swaths of contested lands.
… Representatives of the B.C. government did not respond to requests for comment.
On Tuesday, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, UBCIC, issued a statement that said the group “fully supports the efforts of Indigenous Nations to ensure that their inherent Title and Rights and unconditionally recognized and upheld.”
The group called on people who support the opposed Wet’suwet’en chiefs to join protests planned around the country this week, from Montreal to Vancouver Island between now and Sunday. Reuters reported that protesters against the Coastal GasLink project blocked a major road in the business district of Toronto.
UBCIC has special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. On Tuesday, a U.N. committee on racism asked Canada to stop work on some $25 billion in resource projects, including the Site C hydroelectric dam, Coastal GasLink pipeline and potentially $10-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which led to a scathing response from the Alberta government.
“We wish that the U.N. would pay as much attention to the majority of First Nation groups that support important projects such as Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink,” Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said in a release.
“First Nations leaders increasingly recognized that responsible natural resource development can serve as a path from poverty to prosperity for their people. Yet this U.N. body seemingly ignores these voices,” Savage said. [Alberta! It’s not your jurisdiction!~ Keep your lying, corrupt, greedy, pro-polluter, abusive War Room nose out of it]
Lots of nasty ignorant, racist comments, as usual Financial Post does not moderate or remove them. One excellent comment:
Who would have thought that the once proud RCMP would have become corporate contract killers?
Refer also to:
2009: The Intimidation of Ernst: Members of Harper Government’s RCMP Anti-terrorist Squad Intimidate and Harass Ernst after her Legal Papers were Served on Encana, the EUB (now AER) and Alberta Environment
Gidimt’en spokesperson Sleydo’, a.k.a. Molly Wickham, accuses RCMP of acting as mercenaries for industry, “We are still being threatened with violence, death, and the removal of our children for simply existing on our lands and following our laws”
All Eyes on Wet’suwet’en: International Call for Week of Solidarity! Canada’s “Rule of Law” exposes it’s public interest harming, corporate interest protecting, dark underbelly – again. Thank all that is good: ***Unist’ot’en evict Coastal Gaslink from their Territory*** and Hereditary Chiefs of all 5 Wet’suwet’en clans reject BC Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church’s decision, which criminalizes Anuk ‘nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law)!