Pipeline work will continue in B.C. despite eviction notice: Coastal GasLink
A checkpoint is seen at a bridge leading to the Unist'ot'en camp on a remote logging road near Houston, B.C., Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press)
VICTORIA, B.C. -- The company building the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C. says work will re-start this week despite being issued an eviction notice by hereditary chiefs of a local First Nation.
This weekend, video shot by Wet'suwet'en supporters showed members delivering an eviction notice at a Coastal GasLink campsite. The letter asks employees to leave several camps saying the five clans have not given permission for construction on traditional, unceded land.
Coastal Gaslink wouldn't comment on the eviction for CTV News on Monday, but in a statement posted to its website the company insisted work will resume this week.
"Over the past year, Coastal GasLink has repeatedly requested face-to-face meetings with the Unist’ot’en and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en but these requests have either been ignored or rejected by these groups," the statement reads.
Workers are building a pipeline to transport natural gas to Kitimat, where it will be liquefied and exported as part of a $40 billion project.
"The project itself is an issue but also the company hasn't been willing to work with the hereditary chiefs, and hasn’t been listening to any of our concerns," said Molly Wickham, spokesperson for the Gidimt’en access point.
The company has agreements with 20 First Nations. Wickham told CTV News those bands were elected for reserve areas, yet didn’t have authority for Wet’suwet’en lands, which have never been ceded under any agreement.
"We really believe that this is a bigger issue than just us, we know there's resource extraction happening on other indigenous territories,” she explained.
A December Supreme Court decision ruled in favour of the company, noting it had had the required permits and authorizations to carry out the work.
A similar ruling last year resulted in the arrests of 14 people after protestors refused to leave a blockade on Wet'suwet'en territory.
Asked for comment, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources sent a statement that read in part, “Construction activities have been taking place across northern B.C. for the last year, and it’s the provincial government’s role to ensure this work is in line with regulatory and legislative obligations.”
Wickham insists all the actions, including the eviction notice have all been peaceful, yet the fight has taken a toll on all community members.
“We've been pushed and pushed and pushed and we tried every option and this is, this is our self-defense," she said.
A news conference is scheduled for Tuesday in Smithers as the kickoff to a solidary campaign that's expected to result in protests and gatherings around North America.