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

Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Port city makes desirable place for traffickers flying under the radar

Oak Bay athletes rule the slopes at Island ski and snowboard series

Oak Bay boys take top ski, snowboard honours

Two-vehicle crash in Langford sends one to hospital Monday morning

Driver sent to hospital with unspecified injuries

Victoria Canadian Forces member honored with exceptional Rotary Club award

Capt. Jacqueline Zweng is the Western Canada Ambassador of Wounded Warriors Canada

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

B.C. man released from quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Because Spencer Fehrenbacher has American citizenship, he was evacuated by the U.S.

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Most Read