Coastal GasLink stops work on pipeline over trapline dispute in northern B.C.

RCMP officers look on as contractors pass through their roadblock as supporters of the Unist’ot’en camp and Wet’suwet’en First Nation gather at a camp fire off a logging road near Houston, B.C., on Jan. 9. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A company building a pipeline has stopped work on the project in northwestern British Columbia where 14 people were arrested earlier this month.

Coastal GasLink says in a notice posted on its website on Thursday that it stopped work in an area south of Houston because traps had been placed inside construction boundaries and people were entering the site, raising safety concerns.

The company says it was working with the RCMP to address the issue.

Earlier this week, the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation alleged on social media that pipeline contractors had driven a bulldozer through the heart of one of their traplines south of Houston, which they say violates the Wildlife Act by interfering with lawful trapping.

The company says its work in the area has been fully approved and permitted, and it reminded the public that unauthorized access to an active construction site where heavy equipment is being used can be dangerous.

The pipeline will run through Wet’suwet’en territory to LNG Canada’s $40-billion export facility in Kitimat.

Opponents say Coastal GasLink has no authority to build without consent from Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

The company says it has signed agreements with the elected councils of all 20 First Nations along the route, including some Wet’suwet’en elected council members

Those council members say they are independent from the hereditary chiefs’ authority and inked deals to bring better education, elder care and services to their members.

Hereditary chiefs say they have authority over 22,000 square kilometres of Wet’suwet’en traditional territory while elected band members administer the reserves.

Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, says the dispute is an example of how the Indian Act, which imposed the band council system on First Nations, is still creating confusion and conflict over Indigenous governance.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

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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

RCMP Planning Mass Arrest Of Indigenous Activists Under Bill C-51, Supporters Warn

ThinkPol is reporting the RCMP are preparing to carry out Bill C51 arrests at Unist’ot’en camp:

The RCMP are preparing to carry out a mass arrest operation against the indigenous Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in northwestern BC under Harper government’s Bill C-51 labelling as terrorists First Nations activists exercising their Aboriginal Title and Rights to protect their lands from oil and gas development, according to a joint statement by the groups supporters.

The Conservatives’ controversial anti-terror act criminalizes protests that may be seen as interfering with ‘the economic or financial stability of Canada’ and opponents of the bill had long feared that it would be used to stifle opposition to oil pipelines aggressively promoted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The RCMP have made a number of visits to the Unist’ot’en as well as other First Nations leadership regarding the Unist’ot’en camp, located on the shores of the Wedzin Kwah and mouth of the Gosnell Creek, tributaries to the Skeena, Bulkley, and Babine Rivers.

The activists have been protesting against the proposed Enbridge Pipeline and Pacific Trails Pipeline (Chevron), which are planned to cross the river at the exact points of our Pithouse, and Permaculture Garden that was built on the Unist´ot´en Territory of Talbits Kwah.

Today over fifty individuals and organizations have issued a letter to the provincial government, federal government and RCMP to express support for the Unist’ot’en Camp.

“The courageous stand taken by the Unist’ot’en and their supporters must not be criminalized by the RCMP nor targeted by government,” states Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Through the draconian Bill C51, the federal government is attempting to brand people defending the land and water as ‘security threats.’ The Unist’ot’en are heroes, while the real threat is this government destroying the planet and economy.”

Signatories to this letter include the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, First Nations Summit, BC Assembly of First Nations, Greenpeace Canada, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 718, Idle No More, Council of Canadians, Earthkeepers: Christians for Climate Justice, Defenders of the Land, David Suzuki, Unifor’s Western Director Joie Warnock, Elizabeth May, Naomi Klein.

“Why is the Senior Command of the RCMP so hell bent on deliberately provoking a conflict between themselves and the Indigenous Peoples of British Columbia?” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs asked. “Are they taking these instructions from Premier Christy Clark or Prime Minister Harper?”

Since 2009, the Unist’ot’en have maintained a camp by Wedzin Kwah (Morice River) that is blocking seven pipelines that do not have Unist’ot’en consent to use their land.

On August 15th, 2015, in accordance with Wet’suwet’en laws, the Unist’ot’en Declaration was unanimously signed by five Unist’ot’en chiefs and affirms the continuous governance of the Unist’ot’en.

The letter notes, “We denounce any attempt by the federal government, provincial government or RCMP to interfere in the rights of the Unist’ot’en to occupy, manage or maintain their lands…We expect any and all actions taken by the federal and provincial government, industry and policing agencies to be consistent with the Unist’ot’en Declaration and the jurisdiction of the Unist’ot’en Clan.

http://thinkpol.ca/2015/08/28/rcmp-planning-mass-arrest-of-indigenous-activists-under-bill-c-51-supporters-warn/

TransCanada Reports First Nations Pipeline Protestors To RCMP

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Smithers Interior News, Posted Aug 27, 2015

TransCanada reported pipeline activists to the RCMP today after a convoy of their workers were refused access to Wet’suwet’en land by members of a Unist’ot’en clan blockade.

Four vehicles carrying Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project workers were turned away at a checkpoint on Chisholm Road south of Houston about 11 a.m. this morning.

The checkpoint is one of two camps blocking pipeline proponents from accessing the traditional territory of the Unis’tot’en clan, which is part of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

The TransCanada Coastal GasLink Pipeline was originally routed to cross south of the Morice River on its way from Dawson Creek to an LNG processing facility in Kitimat.

The company is considering an alternate route north of the river but both of the proposed routes cross Unist’ot’en territory.

Unist’ot’en member Freda Huson said her clan had a legal right to block access to its traditional territory, citing the 1997 Delgamuukw decision in which the Supreme Court of Canada determined that aboriginal title did exist.

“We just keep telling the same thing, you do not have consent because according even to all laws they must gain consent and have meaning[ful] consultation with my clan and they haven’t done that,” she said.

“We are not doing this because we want money we are doing this because we want our land.

“We don’t want our lands impacted by these projects.”

Coastal GasLink project planning and execution director Greg Cano said his workers were attempting to carry out environmental fieldwork for the proposed alternate route when they were turned away.

“This environmental fieldwork is necessary so that cultural and historical resources are identified, respected and protected, and so that the project can be designed, constructed and operated in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” said Cano.

He said his company had made more than 90 attempts to contact hereditary chief Knedebeas of the Dark House, an Unist’ot’en house which operates the checkpoint were the workers were stopped.

“They have simply refused to discuss the project, even though they have a legal obligation to do so,” said Cano.

“As a result, we have unfortunately to date been unable to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution to accessing the Dark House territory.”

Huson said her chief would not negotiate with TransCanada after a bad experience with the company.

Today’s encounter was one of several between Coastal GasLink workers and members of the Unist’ot’en clan.

TransCanada said it contacted the police because it had been denied the ability to use a public road.

RCMP media relations officer Corporal Janelle Shoihet said police remained impartial in the ongoing dispute.

“Our efforts all along have been in keeping the peace, negotiations, and bringing the affected parties to the table for a fruitful discussion in the hopes of coming to a resolution,” said Shoihet.

“We will continue to work with all stakeholders and provide assistance as necessary in maintaining peace and keeping everyone safe.”

Both Cano and Huson said they planned to approach future encounters in a “peaceful” manner.

http://www.interior-news.com/breaking_news/323164841.html