Wet’suwet’en complaints about pipeline builder to be probed by government, police

RCMP officers join hereditary chiefs and supporters as they walk towards Unist’ot’en camp near Houston, B.C., on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Wet’suwet’en say traplines and tents destroyed, archeological impact assessment not yet done

The British Columbia government says it will inspect the site of a planned natural gas pipeline southwest of Houston following allegations that the company building the project is violating its permits.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and supporters have alleged that Coastal GasLink is engaging in construction activity without an archeological impact assessment and also destroyed traplines and tents unnecessarily.

The Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources says in a statement that joint site inspection will be conducted by the province’s Environmental Assessment Office and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission next week.

“We anticipate that it will take some time subsequently to determine whether any non-compliances are evident and, if so, the appropriate enforcement action,” the ministry said.

The RCMP also said it has received complaints from both the Office of the Wet’suwet’en and Coastal GasLink regarding traplines and the removal of personal property items.

“We are following up on all complaints and continue to facilitate ongoing and direct dialogue between all parties regarding various issues,” the RCMP said.

Gidimt’en say 3 tents bulldozed

Trans Canada-owned Coastal GasLink is working to build a natural gas pipeline from northeastern British Columbia to LNG’s export facility on the coast as part of a $40-billion project.

Members of the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation issued a statement Monday saying the company “wilfully, illegally, and violently destroyed” its property this weekend, while the company said its actions have been permitted and lawful.

Jen Wickham, a member of the Gidimt’en clan, said Coastal GasLink bulldozed three tents constructed with timber and canvas in an area along a logging road not included in the company’s plans.

“CGL workers just tore down all our stuff, threw them in [shipping containers] and said we had until the end of the day to pick them up or they would be thrown in the dump,” she said.

The tents were constructed when members erected a barrier at the same location, where RCMP enforced a court injunction on Jan. 7 and arrested 14 people in a move that sparked protests across Canada and internationally.

Wickham said Wet’suwet’en members told RCMP they wanted the tents to remain to host cultural workshops.

Following the enforcement of the court injunction, a road was plowed around the tents allowing free movement of vehicles.

President of Coastal GasLink pipeline Rick Gateman leaves the Office of the Wet’suwet’en after meeting with RCMP members and hereditary chiefs in Smithers, B.C., on Jan. 10. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

Coastal GasLink said in a statement that all work it’s doing is “approved and permitted and in full compliance” with its environmental assessment certificate issued by the province and the company has met all required pre-construction conditions.

“These areas are active work zones that are lawful and permitted. Any obstruction impeding our crews from safely accessing these work zones is in contravention of a court order,” Coastal GasLink said.

Traplines in dispute

On Friday, Coastal GasLink said it stopped work in an area closer to its planned work site because traplines had been placed inside construction boundaries and people were entering the site, raising safety concerns.

Jason Slade, a supporter with the nearby Unist’ot’en camp run by Wet’suwet’en members, said Monday that work only halted temporarily and the traplines had been destroyed. He said excavation had begun at the site of a planned “man camp.”

The Unist’ot’en allege the actions violate the Wildlife Act by interfering with lawful trapping, as well as an agreement that the Wet’suwet’en hereditary clan chiefs had reached with RCMP allowing the company access to the area and ensuring traditional practices like trapping could continue.

The clan also alleges it is violating its permits with the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and Environmental Assessment Office by beginning construction work before an archeological impact assessment has been complete.

In a letter to the commission on Friday, Chief Knedebeas of the Unist’ot’en Clan points to an affidavit filed by a company official in November as part of its court injunction application, saying the assessment is scheduled for May.

Knedebeas asks in the letter that a stop-work order be issued immediately while the allegations are investigated.

The Canadian Press · Posted: Jan 29, 2019

[SOURCE]

 

Indigenous convoy slows Ontario highway traffic in solidarity with B.C. pipeline protest

The eight-car convoy left from the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne early Friday morning, with hopes of reaching the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont. (Stephanie Brown/CBC)

‘We’re standing strong with our brothers and sisters out west,’ said one participant.

A convoy of vehicles slowed traffic on a stretch of Canada’s busiest highway Friday morning in Ontario in a show of solidarity with an anti-pipeline protest in British Columbia.

Eight westbound vehicles rolled down Highway 401 near Cornwall, Ont., at about 50 km/h during the early rush hour. Provincial police cruisers formed a buffer around the convoy and surrounding traffic.

The vehicles are carrying people from the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, about 86 kilometres southeast of Ottawa, and the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, just south of Montreal.

Brandon Bigtree, who was driving one of the vehicles, said the demonstration was to show support for protesters at the Unist’ot’en camp — the site of a fortified checkpoint preventing people set to work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline project from accessing the Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Wet’suwet’en and police have agreed to allow the company access to do pre-construction work as specified in an interim injunction order for the time being, following arrests on Monday.

“We’re standing strong with our brothers and sisters out west. What’s going on out there isn’t right,” Bigtree said.

He said Indigenous communities across the country feel the federal government and provinces are failing them.

“We just need to let [the federal government] know that we’re all united.”

Those in the convoy from the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne are also trying to raise awareness about local governance issues. Some in the community are frustrated with how the elected band council has handled  negotiations over a 130-year-old land grievance along the banks of the St. Lawrence River. They are advocating for the nation’s hereditary leadership to play a larger role in the process.

The convoy hopes to make it to ​the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., today.

CBC News · Posted: Jan 11, 2019

[SOURCE]

RCMP Roadblock Lifted Allowing Access to Unist’ot’en Camp

Image – Unist’ot’en Camp Facebook page

Hereditary chiefs expected to give update on talks with RCMP when media reach camp 

  • RCMP roadblock lifted, allowing supporters and media access to Unist’ot’en camp.

According to CBC News, RCMP have opened their roadblock on a remote forest road in northern B.C., allowing access to a camp that has been the focal point of a First Nations protest against a natural gas pipeline.

Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs reached an agreement with the RCMP that includes opening the area that had been off limits to supporters and the media since Monday.

14 arrested after RCMP breach Gitdumt’en checkpoint

RCMP have confirmed they arrested 14 people at the Gitdumt’en checkpoint.

On Monday the RCMP announced they were going to enforce a court injunction to allow Coastal GasLink access to the road and bridge near Houston, B.C.

The RCMP followed through at approximately 2:51 p.m. when several members of the Tactical and Emergency Response Teams forcefully breached the Gitdumt’en camp’s checkpoint.

When police went over top of the barricade there was a scuffle between the advancing RCMP and the first line of Gitdumt’en clan members.

Journalists say the land defenders who were protecting their territory were not armed.

Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., filed for an injunction against Unist’ot’en Camp last month.

According to Vice News, the barricade was built by organizers from the Gitdumt’en clan, one of five Wet’suwet’en clans, with the goal of protecting the Unist’ot’en camp from being raided, further up the road.

The Unist’ot’en camp established in 2010 was set up by members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation with support of Hereditary chiefs to prevent Coast GasLink workers from gaining access.

Monday’s arrests took place at the Gitdumt’en checkpoint on Morice West Forest Service Road for various offences, including alleged violations of an injunction order against the blockade, reports the National Observer.

Fourteen land defenders, including Molly Wickam, a spokesperson for the camp, were taken into police custody and the blockade dismantled.

RCMP say they entered the blockade, after a meeting with a number of hereditary chiefs and Coast GasLink failed to resolve the issue without police involvement.

Unist’ot’en camp now awaits an RCMP raid after the injunction was enforced at the Gitdumt’en checkpoint.

In a statement, RCMP addressed what police called “erroneous” reports that RCMP jammed communications in the area, and that the military was present during the police enforcement operation.

“We would like to clarify that both of these allegations are incorrect,” the statement says. “The area is extremely remote and even police had limited access to communication.”

A news release issued Sunday on behalf of Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says all five Wet’suwet’en clans, including the Gitdumt’en, oppose the construction of oil and gas pipelines in their territory.

An elder arrested on Monday has already been released. The remainder of the arrestees were taken to Prince George to stand before a Justice of the Peace.

LNG subsidiary files for injunction against Unist’ot’en Camp

The Kitimat Liquified Natural Gas project at Bish Cove, Douglas Channel, south of Kitimat, B.C., would be the final destination for the Coastal GasLink pipeline. (CP)

A subsidiary energy company that would deliver natural gas to LNG Canada’s Kitimat plant has filed an application for an injunction against the Unist’ot’en Camp, south of Houston, B.C.

Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., filed an application for an injunction on Friday to gain access to the Morice River Bridge, which it claims is being blockaded by the Unist’ot’en Camp and stalling construction on the project.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline would deliver natural gas, starting in an area close to Dawson Creek, all the way to the proposed LNG Canada facility in Kitimat.

The Unist’ot’en Camp was constructed in 2010 to assert and “reoccupy” the land of the Wet’suwet’en people, on which several proposed pipelines would be constructed. The Unist’ot’en are a clan of the Wet’suwet’en people.

In the application, Coastal GasLink’s proposed injunction would prohibit anyone from “physically preventing, impeding or restricting or in any way physically interfering” with access to the Morice River Bridge or the Morice West Forest Service Road, or coming within 10 metres of Coastal GasLink’s employees or vehicles in the area.

The application would also give police authority to arrest people breaching the injunction.

In a statement posted on its website, Coastal GasLink said that “this decision was not taken lightly” and is “a last resort and a necessary action in our efforts to safely gain access to the area.”

Coastal GasLink named Freda Huson and Warner Naziel, and referenced “others” involved in the bridge blockade, alleging that they were “preventing access” to the area. If the blockade stalled the project, the company claimed, there would be a “significant risk” that the project will miss the date of completion under the contract with LNG, which it claims added up to $24 million in contracts.

Karla Tait, an Unist’ot’en house group member, said in a statement that the two people named in the application were not hereditary chiefs and that the injunction ignored the group’s jurisdiction over the land, on which it operates a holistic healing lodge.

“The fact that this company can make a civil suit thinking that Freda Huson and Warner Naziel are the only ones standing in the way of their project is utterly ignorant and out of touch with all that we stand for as Unist’ot’en and as Indigenous people,” she said in the statement.

StarMetro Vancouver

[SOURCE]

B.C. Bands Want Senior Leadership To Defuse RCMP Tensions With Unist’ot’en Camp

bridge

By Jorge Barrera | APTN National News

Four First Nation bands in British Columbia’s interior are looking to meet with the province’s main chiefs organizations in hopes of defusing a potential showdown between the RCMP and the members of the Unist’ot’en camp which has dug-in along the path of two proposed natural gas pipelines.

Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Karen Ogen said requests have been sent to the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Summit and the B.C. Assembly of First Nations to set up a meeting this week that would include representatives of the camp anchored by the Unist’ot’en clan, which is part of the Wet’suwet’en nation.

Ogen, along with Nee Tahi Buhn Chief Ray Morris, Burns Lake Band Chief Dan George, and Skin Tyee Nation Chief Rene Skin issued a statement Monday saying the Unist’ot’en cland did not speak for all the communities.

The Unist’ot’en camp has dug-in over the past five years in an area along the routes for Chevron’s proposed 480 kilometre Pacific Trail Pipeline and TransCanada’s 670 km Coastal GasLink pipeline. Both pipelines are slated to carry natural gas from the province’s interior to a proposed LNG facility in Kitimat, B.C., on the coast.

The camp sits roughly about 66 km south of Houston, B.C., and about 1,000 km north of Vancouver.

TransCanada filed a complaint with the RCMP after some of its workers were turned away at a Unist’ot’en check-point on a road leading to Coastal GasLink’s planned corridor. Workers with Chevron’s Pacific Trail Pipeline are said to be clearing a pipeline corridor about 2 km from the Unist’ot’en camp.

“We want to sit down with the Unist’ot’en, we need to find a way through this and at the same time, protect our environment,” said Ogen. “We are asking the leadership council to help us resolve it.”

Ogen they are looking for “balance” between the need for jobs and the environment.

UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Philip and BC AFN regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson travelled to the Unist’ot’en camp Monday to get a handle of the situation on the ground.

Tensions escalated last week after rumours emerged that the RCMP was planning to raid the camp. The RCMP tried to douse those rumours saying it had no plans to take down the camp and was operating in a neutral role maintaining the peace.

Ogen said TransCanada is considering re-routing its pipeline around the camp to prevent any potential conflict. She said there are about 20 First Nations along the Coastal GasLink route and the majority have signed onto the project.

Ogen said 16 First Nations have also signed onto the Pacific Trail Pipeline, including the Moricetown band which counts two Unist’ot’en clan members as band councillors, including Freda Huson, the main spokesperson for the camp, and her uncle Warner William, a clan leader.

“They have contractual obligations with Pacific Trail Pipeline they have to abide by,” said Ogen.

Huson said she recently ran for band councillor to educate the band leadership about Indigenous rights and to prevent the First Nation from signing onto the GasLink project. She said the agreement signed by the band with Pacific Trail does not apply to the Unist’ot’en’s unceded land.

“We are not treaty, we never ceded and surrendered our land,” she said.

Huson said GasLink won’t be allowed through, even if TransCanada tries to build around the camp.

“They are not coming through either way, no matter what,” she said. “They are just thinking it’s just this location. This location was chosen strategically,” said Huson. “Band councils only have jurisdiction like municipalities and our hereditary system does not give over authority to band councils.”

Huson said the clan leadership needs to discuss whether they would accept a meeting with the bands and the regional chiefs organizations.

She said Unist’ot’en representatives also have a meeting scheduled with the RCMP on Tuesday.

The RCMP has transmitted a position to First Nations leadership that the federal police believes the Unist’ot’en camp is blocking a public road which is a criminal offence. The RCMP believes this gives the police grounds to take down the camp without a court injunction.

Huson said the camp’s legal advice has determined the road to be a forest service road on Crown land. Huson said the road is blocked most of the winter by snow and the province makes no effort to keep it open year-round. Huson said the camp is not blocking the road as it has allowed tree-planters, some loggers and wilderness guides through its check-point.

Huson also said Supreme Court decisions on Aboriginal rights and title are on the side of the Unist’ot’en assertion of its sovereignty over the territory.

“I wrote a letter to (Chief) Karen Ogen asking why she has our territory on her map. How do you own these territories? We know this is ours, she doesn’t have any stories of her ancestors being out here trapping,” said Huson.

The Unist’ot’en camp is also in an area along the corridor for Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline which faces widespread resistance from First Nations in British Columbia.

http://aptn.ca/news/2015/08/31/b-c-bands-want-senior-fn-leadership-meeting-to-defuse-rcmp-tensions-with-unistoten-camp/

UPDATE: RCMP Have No Intentions Of “Taking Down” Unist’ot’en Camp

RCMP say they will not take down any part of the Unist'ot'en Camp. Photo courtesy of Unist'ot'en Camp Facebook page.

RCMP say they will not take down any part of the Unist’ot’en Camp. Photo courtesy of Unist’ot’en Camp Facebook page.

Vancouver Observer

British Columbia RCMP have “no intention of taking down the Unist’ot’en Camp” according to an official press release issued early Friday evening.

The statement was made in response to rumours and media reports that residents of the northwestern B.C. encampment faced threat from an imminent “mass arrest operation” co-ordinated by RCMP near Smithers, Houston, and surrounding detachments.

The BC RCMP respects the rights of individuals to peacefully protest said Cpl. Janelle Shoihet, on behalf of North District RCMP in the release. To clarify, the BC RCMP has no intention of ‘taking down the camp’ set up by the Unist’ot’en. We value the Wet’suwet’en culture, the connection to the land and traditions being taught and passed on at the camp, and the importance of the camp to healing.

Despite what has been portrayed on social media, Shoihet emphasized that police remain “impartial” in the dispute between the Unist’ot’en Clan and the oil and gas companies vying to build pipelines through its territory. Without providing details on what “progress” she is referring to, she further maintained that the RCMP is “very pleased” with recent progress.

“Our Aboriginal Policing Members continue to remain in contact directly with the Unist’ot’en and we will continue to assist in any way we can,” Shoihet promised.

Vancouver Observer has sent multiple requests to the RCMP for details on the possibility of arrests at Unist’ot’en Camp, police occupancy in local hotels, and pressure from provincial and national representatives to cease plans to raid the camp.

So far, the RCMP has only said it  has “nothing further to add” to its statement, other than that its focus on remains “fruitful” negotiation between all parties.

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/breaking-rcmp-have-no-intentions-taking-down-unistoten-camp

New War In The Woods?

Camp 'checkpoint' in the Bulkley Valley; Freda Huson

Camp ‘checkpoint’ in the Bulkley Valley; Freda Huson

An escalating conflict in traditional wilderness territory is unfolding in near real time through YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, culminating this week in a July 30 rally in downtown Vancouver.

The powder keg that is the Unist’ot’en camp in the Bulkley Valley of B.C.’s Central Interior is the top issue behind a rally tonight (July 30) CBC Plaza, 700 Hamilton St., 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The event, organized by Rising Tide, will be in support for Unist’ot’en camp’s continued effort to turn away RCMP, security contractors and pipeline employees attempting to enter unceded territory, access necessary to connect oil to tankers on the West Coast near Prince Rupert.

“This event hopes to confront the police violence brought to people all over the world. This is not an isolated issue,” a press release from the Unist’ot’en camp states. “Join us to hear from those who have been to the camp and learn about how powerful life on the land has been.”

Freda Huson, spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, has maintained a checkpoint at the bridge into her territory for the last six years.

“I am not demonstrating. I am not protesting,” she is quoted as saying in the Rising Tide call to action. “I am occupying our traditional homelands.”

Confrontation Escalates As LNG Battles First Nations For Land Access

ACCESS DENIED: A still from video footage shows Houston RCMP officers requesting Unist’ot’en Camp spokesperson Freda Huson for access on July 15. When that failed, Chevron American officials tried on July 23 and got the same response.

ACCESS DENIED: A still from video footage shows Houston RCMP officers requesting Unist’ot’en Camp spokesperson Freda Huson for access on July 15. When that failed, Chevron American officials tried on July 23 and got the same response.

Vancouver Observer, Posted Jul 27th, 2015

‘We’re blocking pipelines; we’re not blocking everyone’, Unist’ot’en Camp spokesperson Freda Huson tells RCMP

A month after the B.C. government conditionally approved a liquefied natural gas project led by Royal Dutch Shell in Kitimat, the Unist’ot’en Camp has reported escalating confrontations as RCMP and the LNG industry seek access to its unceded territory.

In recent days supporters of the Unist’ot’en Camp have uploaded three videos showing clashes with RCMP and pipeline officials.

The latest recording, posted on July 26, shows TransCanada employees for the Shell project arriving in the area by helicopter. They were soon grounded by supporters who stood in the path of the rotor blades:

A July 15 video posted on YouTube shows attempts by the Mounties to pass a “checkpoint” set up by the First Nations camp, and on July 23, another video shows Chevron officials requesting access. Both were denied.

“It is becoming clear that the situation here is moving toward an escalation point,” states a July 18 letter from Unist’ot’en Camp. ”Today at one o’clock a low flying helicopter flew over the ridge line and crossed the river a couple kilometers south of the bridge,” according to the “call out” letter. “They flew low enough to take photos of activity happening at (the) bridge and our camp.”

Chevron American executives request permission to pass First Nations checkpoint

A still from a video posted on the Unist’ot’en Camp’s facebook page on July 23 documenting Chevron American officials, each wearing cameras, requesting road access.

“Camp supporters blocked the RCMP from entering,” reads the text in the uploaded video. “The following day, the RCMP threatened to arrest supporters at another checkpoint, but supporters built a gate.”

Gate constructed on the bridge in the Unist’ot’en Camp

Above, a still from a video posted on YouTube.

While police at the Houston detachment have maintained that they intend to “ensure the work crews can do their work safely” and have the lawful right to arrest anyone blocking a public road, the Camp letter states, “We have made it clear to the police and industry that we are not blockading the road. We are establishing check-points on the boundaries of our unceded Unist’ot’en territories. People and companies who gain our consent are allowed to enter.”

The Unist’ot’en Camp has requested “physical support from allies” as the situation escalates. This raises the spectre of another Kinder Morgan-style conflict.

(Developing story)

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/confrontation-escalates-lng-battles-first-nations-land-access