Po­lice, Indige­nous block­ades go­ing up, work to be­gin again on pipe­line

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Cit­i­zen news ser­vice

SMITHERS — The RCMP lifted an ex­clu­sion zone Fri­day that cut off pub­lic ac­cess to a for­est ser­vice road in north­ern Bri­tish Columbia at the site of a con­fronta­tion this week be­tween Moun­ties and op­po­nents of a nat­u­ral gas pipe­line.

Po­lice say the pub­lic and me­dia can travel on the road in the Wet’suwet’en First Na­tion ter­ri­tory but the RCMP will be pa­trolling it to en­sure ev­ery­one’s safety. Ear­lier Fri­day, a con­voy of work trucks passed through the po­lice road­block head­ing to the Unist’ot’en heal­ing camp to dis­man­tle bar­ri­ers that had blocked work­ers from start­ing con­struc­tion on the Coastal GasLink pipe­line.

On Thurs­day, hered­i­tary chiefs struck a deal with the RCMP to abide with an in­terim court in­junc­tion by not block­ing ac­cess to the work site.

In ex­change, the chiefs said mem­bers of the First Na­tion would not be ar­rested and the Unist’ot’en camp would be al­lowed to re­main in­tact.

Chief Na’Moks said they made the tem­po­rary agree­ment to pro­tect Wet’suwet’en mem­bers, some of whom were al­ready trau­ma­tized af­ter an­other check­point was dis­man­tled and 14 peo­ple were ar­rested on Mon­day.

The Unist’ot’en is a house group within the five clans that make up the Wet’suwet’en First Na­tion.

The agree­ment ap­plies to an in­terim court in­junc­tion, which is meant to pre­vent any­one from im­ped­ing the com­pany’s work un­til the de­fen­dants, which in­clude mem­bers of the Unist’ot’en camp, file a re­sponse.

Some mem­bers of the Wet’suwet’en say the com­pany does not have au­thor­ity to work on their ter­ri­tory with­out con­sent from the na­tion’s hered­i­tary clan chiefs.

Tran­sCanada Corp. says it has signed ben­e­fit shar­ing agree­ments with the elected coun­cils of all 20 First Na­tions along the pipe­line route. Its Coastal GasLink pipe­line would run from north­ern B.C. though the Wet’suwet’en ter­ri­tory to LNG Canada’s $40 bil­lion ex­port ter­mi­nal in Kiti­mat.

Coastal GasLink pres­i­dent Rick Gate­man said the agree­ment lays the ground­work for the com­pany to have free ac­cess to the area for pre-con­struc­tion and con­struc­tion work on the pipe­line.

The RCMP said in a news re­lease Thurs­day that po­lice would con­tinue “rov­ing pa­trols” of the Morice West For­est Ser­vice Road.

The Moun­ties said they also set up a tem­po­rary RCMP de­tach­ment on the road that will be staffed by gen­eral duty po­lice of­fi­cers who “will un­dergo cul­tural aware­ness train­ing on the Wet’suwet’en tra­di­tions and will have en­hanced train­ing in con­flict res­o­lu­tion.”

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