Indigenous LNG supporters chide human rights advocates over pipeline comments

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre path

A collective of First Nations who support the liquefied natural gas industry in British Columbia say human rights advocates failed to do their research when they called for a pipeline project to be halted.

The First Nations LNG Alliance has issued open letters to the B.C. human rights commissioner and the United Nations Committee to End Racial Discrimination over statements they made about the Coastal GasLink project.

They called for the project to be stopped in the face of opposition from Wet’suwet’en hereditary clan chiefs who say the project has no authority without their consent.

Both said the free, prior and informed consent of all affected Indigenous groups should be granted before any project is allowed to proceed.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre path but the Wet’suwet’en chiefs say within their territory, those councils only administer small reserves and it’s the hereditary chiefs who hold jurisdiction over a broader area covering 22,000 square kilometres.

Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO of the First Nations Alliance, says in the letter to commissioner Kasari Govender that the pipeline was approved through a democratic process that Indigenous people participated in freely, and neither the committee nor commissioner consulted supportive Indigenous groups before taking a position.

WATCH: Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

No one could be reached for comment at the UN committee and Govender was not available for an interview Tuesday.

“It is disheartening to see that the input from 20 First Nations, who participated extensively during five years of consultation on the pipeline, and have successfully negotiated agreements with Coastal GasLink, is so easily dismissed by the B.C. Human Rights Commission,” Ogen-Toews says in one of the open letters.

Ogen-Toews was elected chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation representing 255 members on and off reserve lands for six years. The Wet’suwet’en First Nation covers a smaller area than the Wet’suwet’en Nation over which the hereditary clan chiefs claim authority.

The letter accuses Govender of ignoring the social and economic benefits already realized by workers and communities from the project. More than one-third of work on the project has been completed by Indigenous people and Coastal GasLink has earmarked $620 million in contracting opportunities for First Nations in the province, it says.

The letter also accuses both the provincial commission and the UN committee of issuing public statements without talking to supportive First Nations.

“Both groups know nothing about the importance we place on finding a way out of endlessly trying to manage poverty, and finding the kind of opportunities for our First Nations people that non-Indigenous people have enjoyed for centuries,” the letter says.

The UN committee also called the federal government to stop two other major resource projects, the Site C dam and Trans Mountain pipeline expansions.

Na’moks, a spokesman for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary clan chiefs, has said they will never consent to the project.

The chiefs issued an eviction notice to Coastal GasLink after the B.C. Supreme Court extended an injunction on Dec. 31 to the company.

The RCMP has established a checkpoint along a logging road that leads to a pipeline work site, as well as two camps and a small settlement established by supporters of the hereditary chiefs.

Last year, 14 people were arrested when the RCMP enforced a previous injunction granted to the company.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Totem pole considered cultural appropriation removed from Nelson’s Hume School

The pole had also become rotted and was seen as dangerous to students

Ootischenia man fined for driving vehicle held together by bungee cord

Vehicle also had improper plates and no insurance

Rossland resident Aerin Bowers completes 19-km swim along Christina Lake

Bowers said her dad inspired her to complete the epic adventure

Without federal aid, the future of B.C. air transport is bleak

Air traffic remains down 75 to 85 per cent

Community comes together to create outdoor classroom at Kootenay school

Brent Kennedy Elementary has a new learning space thanks to an inspired teacher Kalesnikoff Lumber

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Most Read