Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs call for anyone in the area to join them in the stand against TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink
Last week Judge Marguerite Church of the B.C. Supreme Court ordered the Unist’ot’en Camp to remove a gate that is stopping the project from moving forward
The case has became a case of elected Aboriginal government against Indigenous hereditary system
TransCanada announced they were moving forward with the project in October
The CGL was first announced in 2012 and received the necessary permits to move forward in 2014
On Wednesday, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs asked for support in blocking construction of TransCanada’s Coastal pipeline. While the project has the support of first nations across the route, hereditary chiefs from the Wet’suwet’en are in strong opposition of the $40 billion project.
Just last week Judge Marguerite Church of the B.C. Supreme Court sided with Coastal GasLink — the subsidiary of TransCanada Corp over the project — and ordered the Indigenous Unist’ot’en Camp to remove a gate that was blocking a bridge and holding up construction of the pipeline.
Church ruled the locked gate located on the Morice River Bridge had to be removed within 72 hours of the court hour. CGL filed a suit against Camp Unist’ot’en spokesperson Freda Huson and her partner Warner Naziel claiming due to the gate “Coastal GasLink and others have suffered and continue to suffer irreparable harm.”
The case is much more significant for Indigenous law than most realize. Naziel is one of five hereditary chiefs for the Wet’suwet’en. The Wet’suwet’en elected band council are one of twenty indigenous groups to approve of the CGL project. However, Naziel claims he is not there under “personal capacity; he’s there on behalf of his clan,” which is placing elected Aboriginal government against the Indigenous hereditary system.
CGL claims they have no intention of forcing Unist’ot’en Camp to move and have tried to negotiate with them for years. The company says they need to access the public bridge, the public access road, to develop a pipeline right of way. Those opposing CGL say they are trying to force the pipeline through their home, while the company states they will not be destroying any buildings.
In a video posted to Facebook by APTN National News, hereditary chiefs said it was time for other indigenous groups in the area to stand against CGL. Hereditary Chief Kloum Khum said, “Now it’s time that we all ante up and we all stand behind our members that are willing to step up for us.” Khum was joined by hereditary chiefs Knedebeas, Na’Moks, and Madeek. The hereditary chiefs sent a clear message that the CGL would have to go through them for the project to be completed.
In October TransCanada made the announcement that the company was moving forward with the CGL project. Russ Girling, TransCanada’s President and Chief Executive Officer praised the project as a testimony of the company’s teams and indigenous groups working together with the single goal of “fostering an LNG industry off Canada’s West Coast.”
[The] announcement signifies an important step forward for Coastal GasLink as well as for the province of B.C. and the country. The magnitude of the work undertaken over the past six years has been extensive. It demonstrates the commitment of our teams, our partners, B.C. communities and Indigenous groups to work together toward a single goal of fostering an LNG industry off Canada’s West Coast that will help maximise the value of our important natural gas resources in a sustainable and responsible way.
The 420-mile pipeline would run from the Montney gas-producing region near Dawson Creek, B.C. to the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat. Construction is currently planned to start in 2019 with an in-service date of 2023 with the highest spending on construction happening in 2020 and 2021.
Once constructed, Coastal GasLink will become a critical component of British Columbia’s natural gas pipeline infrastructure, connecting our abundant, low-cost natural gas resources to global markets. Solid underlying market fundamentals, combined with robust commercial support for the project, position us to prudently fund Coastal GasLink over its multi-year construction along with our existing CAN$28 billion near-term capital program in a manner consistent with our long-established strong financial profile.
TransCanada first proposed the CGL project in 2012. Following an extensive 7200 page application to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), CGL received its Environmental Assessment Certificate in 2014. The company also participated in a public comment period and went through a two-year environmental and technical review to receive the needed permits. B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) issued CGL the necessary permits to move forward with the project.