VANCOUVER-The president of a company building a natural gas pipeline across northern British Columbia is renewing a request to meet with the hereditary clan chiefs of a First Nation who say the project has no authority without their consent.
"We want everyone to understand that there are agreements from the Peace Country to Kitimat with Indigenous communities that want to see economic activity and prosperity take place", he said. All of the permits are in place for this project to proceed.
Also on Wednesday, Wet'suwet'en head of estate Dsahayl asked Coastal GasLink employees near Parrot Lake Village to leave the area (they stuck to it) and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs argued that the RCMP checkpoint and exclusion zone violated indigenous and Canadian law by blocking access to traditional territory.
Wet'suwet'en heriditary leaders authorized chopping down about 100 trees earlier this month along a logging road to block contractors from returning to work at a camp there.
Coastal GasLink workers were briefly allowed on Sunday to inspect a work camp located behind an ongoing blockade by Wetsu'wet'en hereditary chiefs and their supporters.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said it's time to stop relying on "low level" injunctions and RCMP enforcement, and make room for broader consideration of Indigenous rights.
They already occupy two other camps along the road.
He suggests Friday as a date to meet and says that although the B.C. Supreme Court has granted the company an injunction to access its work site in the Wet'suwet'en traditional territory, the company would prefer to resolve the differences through dialogue.
THE access control checkpoint was set up late in the morning on January 13 at the 27 kilometer mark on the Morice West Forest Service Road.
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The RCMP said those being allowed to enter must have permission from the RCMP's operations commander, which generally includes hereditary and elected chiefs, elected and other government officials, accredited journalists from recognized media outlets, and those providing food, medicine or other supplies.
The RCMP said Wednesday it has not created an exclusion zone, areas enacted when police are enforcing civil injunctions.
Smith said it's concerning that the pipeline blockade is impeding the progress of the project and she believes chiefs, whether hereditary or elected, should put the interests of their people first in decision making. "Our duty is to preserve the safety of everyone involved in this dispute, and to prevent further contraventions to the B.C. Supreme Court ordered injunction".
"It was emphasized that the primary concerns for the RCMP are the safety of the public and officers", says a statement released Monday. "This investment is being used to undermine Wet'suwet'en authority and empower CGL to proceed using the full force of the RCMP and judicial system", asserts Hereditary Chief Dsta'hyl. "This project is proceeding and the rule of law needs to prevail in B.C".
At the end of a year ago, the Horgan government adopted legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
One principal of the UN declaration is that governments can't approve resource development without the free, informed and prior consent of First Nations.
But Horgan says the declaration doesn't apply to the Coastal GasLink project.
These comments are contrary to his March 16th, 2019 address at a balhats (potlatch) hosted in Witset, where Wet'suwet'en people collectively witnessed Horgan's commitment to "genuinely work together with hope and optimism for a better future not just for ourselves but for the generation after us and the generation after that".
"Our document, our legislation, our declaration is forward looking", he said.