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

Surrey Falcons females win Bantam provincial hockey banner, place second in Peewee final

‘We told the girls that everyone had to contribute for us to be successful,’ head coach says

Jail sentence for South Okanagan bank robber with ties to Surrey

The Surrey man convicted of the 2017 robbery of the Penticton Valley First sentenced to seven years

VIDEO: Dramatic fire destroys Surrey home

A man, woman, two dogs, a cat and kittens made it out safely

South Surrey wrestler wins pair of national titles

Ana Godinez Gonzalez tops field at junior, senior championships in Saskatoon

Ambulance’s 22-minute response time concerns White Rock man

Ambulance arrives 22 minutes after call for service

STRONG, PERSEVERING AND PROUD: Surrey Pride celebrates 20 years with biggest party yet

PART ONE: A special series on the past, present and future of our LGBTQ+ community

Norway opens probe into why cruise ship ventured into storm

The Viking Sky was headed for southern Norway when it had engine problems on Saturday afternoon

B.C. river cleanup crew finds bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Crash threatens Vancouver shipyard’s schedule for new coast guard ships

The delivery of the vessel was already years overdue

Fired B.C. farmland commission chair backs NDP rule changes

Richard Bullock agrees with Lana Popham, ALC records don’t

Kamloops chamber of commerce director let go after controversial Facebook posts

Facebook account had derogatory comments about Muslims, Justin Trudeau

B.C. RCMP officer cleared after Taser incident seriously injures woman

Woman with knives refused to comply with orders therefore officer used appropriate level of force

‘Bikinishe’ swimwear retailer prompts Better Business Bureau warning

Watchdog has gotten dozens of complaints about company, which has been using fake Vancouver address

5 to start your day

Trudeau boosts Tamara Taggart, a doctor accessed records of a woman pregnant with his baby, and more

Most Read