Wet'suwet'en reach deal with RCMP, will comply with injunction, open checkpoint
First Nations groups and their supporters occupying a bridge near Houston, B.C. say they will comply with a B.C. Supreme Court injunction requiring them to grant access to natural gas pipeline construction crews.
Following negotiations with the RCMP on Wednesday, the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs said they would open the checkpoint gate at the Unist’ot’en Camp.
“They do not want violence that happened in Gidumt’en to repeat here. Many tears shed, many emotions. Police negotiating with Unist’ot’en Clan to possibly allow gate to stay up. This is not over,” wrote the group on its Facebook page Wednesday.
On Monday, RCMP officers descended on another checkpoint, where Wet’suwet’en members of the Gidumt’en clan were blocking access to crews looking to build TC Energy’s (formerly Trans Canada Corp.) Coastal GasLink pipeline. The pipeline would deliver natural gas from Dawson Creek to a future LNG plant in Kitimat.
WATCH: Premier John Horgan on the challenges of building a pipeline up north
Police arrested 14 people, sparking demonstrations of solidarity in cities across B.C. and Canada.
The RCMP was enforcing an interim injunction issued in December and expanded in January to cover both checkpoints.
Mounties established a roadblock around the area, denying access to media and members of the public, but allowed the gas company’s contractors to pass through and clear the road.
WATCH: Premier John Horgan on LNG Canada’s obligations with the pipeline
The pipeline project has provincial and federal approval, and TC Energy has signed deals with all 20 elected First Nations band councils along the route.
However, some members of the Wet’suwet’en say elected band councils only represent on-reserve matters, and that issues surrounding traditional, unceded territory are represented byWet’suwet’en Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
The Wet’suwet’en demonstrators cite the 1997 Delgamuukw Supreme Court of Canada ruling, which found they had not given up rights and title to 22,000 square kilometres of territory, and a group of hereditary chiefs say they were not adequately consulted and have not given consent to the project in those lands.
On Wednesday, B.C. Premier John Horgan said he hoped for a peaceful solution to the dispute, but that Coastal GasLink had followed the rules to get to this point.
“It is our view that the process has concluded, but that is not the end of discussion and dialogue,” Horgan said.
“This project represents great opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike, but it also recognizes and highlights the challenges of reconciliation. There is no quick fix to resolving issues that date back to 1876.”
More to come…
— With files from the Canadian Press