Tag Archives: Chief Karen Ogen

Potential Pipeline Clash Worries First Nation Chief In B.C.

While Chief Ogen, who represents the elected council, is in favour of the gas pipelines, Freda Huson, who represents the Unist’ot’en, is steadfastly opposed. Ms. Huson is pictured with her husband, chief Toghestiy, in this photo when they spoke to the media about a blockade they've set up against the proposed Pacific Trail pipeline near Houston, B.C., in Vancouver on Monday April 7, 2014 (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

While Chief Ogen, who represents the elected council, is in favour of the gas pipelines, Freda Huson, who represents the Unist’ot’en, is steadfastly opposed. Ms. Huson is pictured with her husband, chief Toghestiy, in this photo when they spoke to the media about a blockade they’ve set up against the proposed Pacific Trail pipeline near Houston, B.C., in Vancouver on Monday April 7, 2014
(DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Globe and Mail | Published, Sep. 07, 2015

There are growing fears violence could erupt if a protest camp in northern B.C. remains in place on the right-of-way of two proposed gas lines.

But resolving the dispute will require untangling a complicated internal conflict that has set hereditary and elected chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation against one another.

Chief Karen Ogen of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation said she’s worried band members working for contractors on the gas line right-of-ways could clash with protesters blocking an access road.

She’s also concerned about what might happen if the RCMP move in to dismantle the camp, which has been in place for several years but has recently begun to hold up industry work crews.

“I just hope it doesn’t have to escalate into violence and that our people are safe because we have a lot of Wet’suwet’en people working on the ground with contractors for Coastal GasLink,” said Chief Ogen. “I just want to make sure all of our Wet’suwet’en people are safe out there and I’m sure that’s what the position of the police would be too.”

Tensions in the long simmering dispute were highlighted when the RCMP sat down for a four-hour meeting in Smithers recently with the protest group, a Wet’suwet’en clan or family group known as the Unist’ot’en, after some native leaders claimed the police were about to raid the camp.

The RCMP have denied there were any plans for a raid and have stressed police remain neutral in the conflict.

Underlying the dispute between the gas industry and the protesters is a complex political struggle within the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

While Chief Ogen, who represents the elected council, is in favour of the gas pipelines, Freda Huson, who represents the Unist’ot’en, is steadfastly opposed.

Ms. Huson claims the backing of several hereditary chiefs. But Chief Ogen says she has the support of both hereditary and elected chiefs.

In an interview, Chief Ogen said she hopes the matter can be resolved in a meeting she’s trying to set up involving the First Nations Leadership Council, a highly influential body that represents the political executives of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Summit and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

“Whether we compromise or find a way to get both of our needs met, we [the Wet’suwet’en and Unist’ot’en] are one people and we should be able to sit down and have a discussion,” said Chief Ogen. “My position is we want to sit down … and have the Leadership Council neutral in all of this and help us find a resolve.

The Wet’suwet’en, a First Nation that claims about 55,000 square kilometres of land in the Burns Lake area, lie directly on the routes of the 480-kilometre Pacific Trails Pipeline, proposed by Chevron Canada and Woodside Energy International Ltd., and TransCanada’s 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline. The pipelines would link rich northeast gas fields with a planned LNG facility in Kitimat.

Recently Unist’ot’en protestors blocked Coastal GasLink crews from accessing the area, and the company filed a complaint with the RCMP.

In an interview from the protest camp, Ms. Huson said the Unist’ot’en intend to maintain the protest camp – and she’s not interested in attending the meeting Chief Ogen is trying to set up.

She said the Unistot’ot’en function under the traditional hereditary chief system, while Chief Ogen gets her authority though an electoral process established by the federal government.

“Our government structure is around the [traditional] feast hall, it’s not around a [elected band council] boardroom table,” she said. “So if Chief Ogen or anybody else wants to discuss business on our territory they need to come to our feast hall.”

Gillian Robinson-Riddell, a spokesperson for Chevron Canada Ltd., said the company is hoping a peaceful settlement can be reached.

“Throughout the years we have always maintained that it’s our hope to see this blockade resolved through dialogue and discussion. So we’re continuing to work to see that happen,” she said.

Mark Cooper, a spokesman for TransCanada, said in an e-mail his company wants to continue work in the area.

“We have been conducting important environmental fieldwork along the proposed pipeline route for months,” he stated. “Our goal is to carry out this seasonal work in the safest possible manner for our staff, contractors and First Nations participants.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/potential-pipeline-clash-worries-first-nation-chief-in-bc/article26244455/

Wet’suwet’en First Nation Signs $13 Million Pipeline Energy Deal

The Wet’suwet’en First Nation, formerly known as the Broman Lake Band, stands to receive $2.8 million dollars from the province for the proposed Coastal GasLink project.

The Wet’suwet’en First Nation, formerly known as the Broman Lake Band, stands to receive $2.8 million dollars from the province for the proposed Coastal GasLink project.

By James Murray | NNL

WET’SUWET’EN FIRST NATION, PALLING, BC – ENERGY – The Wet’suwet’en First Nation (WFN) Chief and Council are pleased to confirm the signing of the LNG pipeline benefits agreement with the Province of British Columbia.

The WFN will receive approximately $2.8 million from the province at three different stages for the Coastal Gas Link (CGL) gas pipeline project:

  • $464,000 within 90 days after signing the agreement
  • $1,160,000 when pipeline construction starts (scheduled to begin in 2015)
  • $1,160,000 when the pipeline is in service

The WFN will also receive a yet-to-be-determined share of $10 million in ongoing benefits for the life of the pipeline estimated at 25 to 35 years.

Chief and Council will work collaboratively with the province and other neighbouring First Nations on the Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI), to which the province has committed $30 million. The development and inclusion of this initiative was the top priority of Chief and Council before moving forward with the agreement.

Our leaders have signed agreements with the province with the explicit understanding that the environmental assessment process has to ensure best practices in the world.  We have agreed to LNG projects – but maintain our opposition to oil projects in our territory.  In our current agreement with Chevron (formerly Pacific Trails Pipeline) and Coastal Gas Link, we have ensured the inclusion of the clause which states at no time will this pipeline agreement, even if sold to another company, be converted to transporting oil or bitumen. The transportation of natural gas in this form ensures that minimal risk to wildlife and the environment occurs. We would remind everyone that there is already an existing line and the proposed LNG line will not be substantially disturbing the lands (a final expansion of approximately 5 metres per side) This will help minimize any disturbance of wildlife and allow for continued traditional use for hunting, trapping, gathering.

“We are fully concerned about maintaining the environment while pursuing economic opportunities that will provide sustainability to our community.  We have taken a leap of faith to sign these agreements because we are aware that these are time sensitive opportunities,” says Chief Karen Ogen.

Proposed ESI programs include:

  • culvert removal/upgrade,
  • beaver dam management,
  • stream and riparian enhancement and restoration,
  • access to traditional sites,
  • riparian livestock/fencing management,
  • moose winter range enhancement, and
  • road access decommissioning and reclamation.

The province has also announced a $30 million education and training fund. Chief and Council will apply to the fund to develop the required employment skills needed for WFN members to work on the pipeline. Reg Ogen has been tasked with overseeing the creation of an Education and Training plan to get WFN members working in the construction phase of the project.

Most of the funds will not be received until after the in-service date of the pipeline. Chief and Council will be calling a special community meeting in early 2015 to consult with members on spending priorities and schedules. In addition, Chief and Council are recommending immediate spending priorities related to infrastructure development and the elimination of past deficits and debts.

In the lead-up to the signing of this agreement we have held numerous community member meetings, consulted with our hereditary chiefs, and consulted with numerous experts to minimize the environmental impacts of the project while maximizing benefits to the community.

“Although we would have loved to have had 100% support for this initiative, there are still those who speak out against it.  Far too often change is opposed simply for the sake of argument; we fully respect those with differing opinions, but this process has been transparent and inclusive from the start,” says Chief Ogen.

Ogen continues:

Our goal is to show everyone that we are taking a proactive approach, taking part in this process and ensuring that these monies benefit our community now and in the future through the Four Pillars: health and wellness programs, education and training, cultural programs, and housing and infrastructure.

In the recent months, we have seen many different positive developments in our community, including a reduction in those on social assistance and increased education and training for many members. We have great plans to address some of the systemic problems which our community  and many other First Nations face when it comes to the issues of government dependency, shaking the ill effects of the Indian Residential Schools, poverty, housing, health, and language and cultural programs.

This signing isn’t just about the money; this is about ensuring a better future for our members one which would not be realized without this opportunity. It’s important to remember that this is an agreement with the province that ensures WFN has a say in, and will benefit from, all future development which may be implemented.

This is NOT an oil pipeline.

We remain opposed to them because of their serious potential environmental impacts on our territories and traditional hunting grounds. This is liquefied natural gas, which has minimal risk during its transportation through these pipelines. We are confident that this opportunity will be beneficial not only to WFN but many other progressive nations as well.

http://www.netnewsledger.com/2014/12/13/wetsuweten-first-nation-signs-13-million-pipeline-energy-deal/