RCMP officers switch between shifts near 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 Wednesday, January 9, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

Eyes turn to second barrier in northern B.C. pipeline dispute

RCMP roadblocks remained in place for third day around Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory

The fate of a second barrier blocking access to a pipeline project became the focus of First Nations leaders in northern B.C. Wednesday as they waited to see whether the RCMP would dismantle it.

RCMP roadblocks remained in place for a third day around the territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, where 14 people were arrested on Monday after the Mounties forcibly took apart a first gate blocking access to an area where Coastal GasLink wants to build a natural gas pipeline.

READ MORE: John Horgan says LNG project meets standard of Indigenous relations

Sitting by a fire outside the RCMP roadblock, Alexander Joseph said the arrest of Indigenous people on their own traditional territory brought back some difficult memories.

“I come from residential (school), I come from the ’60s Scoop,” Joseph said. “It feels like the same thing is happening over and over again. The RCMP and the government coming in, taking away us, from our own culture, our own nature. And that’s not right.”

Joseph, 61, said he plans to remain at the police roadblock, which stops access to a logging road that leads to a second gate erected years ago by the Unist’ot’en house group, which is part of one of the five clans that make up the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

Joseph is a member of the Lake Babine First Nation more than 100 kilometres away, but he said he wants to show solidarity with other Indigenous people who feel threatened on their land.

“I’ve got so much anger right now, I want to stay here until this is resolved in a positive way,” Joseph said.

The RCMP is allowing the oil and gas company’s contractors to pass through the roadblock to clear trees and debris from the road.

Monday’s arrests were made as the RCMP enforced a court injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who had erected the first gate blocking access to the planned pipeline.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline would run through the Wet’suwet’en territory to Kitimat where LNG Canada is building a $40-billion export facility.

TC Energy, formerly TransCanada Corp., says it has signed agreements with the elected councils of all 20 First Nations along the path, including the Wet’suwet’en.

However, members of the First Nation opposing the pipeline say the company failed to get consent from its five house chiefs, who are hereditary rather than elected. They argue the elected council only has jurisdiction over the reserve, which is a much smaller area than the 22,000 square kilometres that comprise the Wet’suwet’ens traditional territory.

Premier John Horgan said when plans for the LNG export facility was announced in October the B.C. government concluded all the conditions for the project to proceed had been met.

“All nations, from well head to water line, had signed impact benefit agreements,” he told a news conference in Victoria. “We were, of course, mindful of the challenges at the Unist’ot’en camp. But we were in dialogue and continue to be open for dialogue for hereditary leadership in that community.”

Horgan said he spoke to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the impasse on Tuesday night.

“He understands, the federal government understands, that British Columbia is unique in Canada. We have unceded territory in every corner of the province. We have court ruling after court ruling that has affirmed we need to find a better way forward.”

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

UPDATED: Three dead in South Surrey crash: police

Motorists asked to avoid 32 Avenue between 152 Street and King George

White Rock 10-year-old hopes ‘horrible truth’ of war speech touches hearts

YouTube voting on Pratyaksha Awasthi’s speech ends March 29

OUR VIEW: Young Surrey athletes stir pride

Better than trophies are the lessons these sports-minded youngsters hopefully carry into adulthood

Pollinator conservation area aims to save bees directly, and through education

Bees’ survival is challenged around the world, but action is being taken to help them in Langley

Delta LGBTQ group receiving grant to screen doc about Surrey-raised murder victim

Sher Vancouver LGBTQ Friends Society is getting $4,000 to show award-winning short My Names Was January

The good, bad and the unknown of Apple’s new services

The announcements lacked some key details, such as pricing of the TV service

Coroner’s inquest announced for Victoria teen’s overdose death

Elliot Eurchuk was 16 years old when he died of an opioid overdose at his Oak Bay home

Military officer accused of sexual misconduct, drunkenness in B.C., Alberta

Warrant Officer Jarvis Kevin Malone is charged under the National Defence Act

Stranger climbs onto B.C. family’s second-floor balcony, lights fire in barbecue

Incident in Abbotsford terrifies family with two-year-old boy

Harbour Air to convert to all-electric seaplanes

Seaplane company to modify fleet with a 750-horsepower electric motor

VIDEO: Teenage girl was person killed in three-vehicle crash in Coquitlam

Police are investigating the fatal crash at Mariner Way and Riverview Crescent

Sailings cancelled after BC Ferries boat hits Langdale terminal

The Queen of Surrey is stuck on the dock, causing delays to Horseshoe Bay trips

5 to start your day

Fatal crash in Coquitlam, stranger climbs onto balcony and lights fire, and more

Vancouver Island home to B.C.’s luckiest lotto store

Five million-dollar winners have bought tickets from same Port Alberni corner store

Most Read