Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) speaks on behalf of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs at a press conference in the Office of the Wet’suwet’en in Smithers Jan. 7. Na’Moks said an eviction of Coastal GasLink from its work site near Houston is in effect and there will be no access without consent. (Thom Barker photo)

Green Party voices support for Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ eviction of CGL from territory

The party is calling for TC Energy and the RCMP to respect the hereditary chiefs’ wishes

The Green Party of Canada is standing behind the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ recent eviction notice served to Coastal GasLink (CGL) workers.

CGL evacuated its Workforce Accommodation site 9A located south of Houston after the hereditary chiefs issued an eviction notice Jan. 4 at around 4 p.m.

Initially security guards with the company refused the notice however they eventually complied with it.

“The Green Party of Canada welcomes the decision by Coastal GasLink to remove its workers from Wet’suwet’en territory,” the Jan. 7 release reads.

Green MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith Paul Manly characterized the dispute as a fight for Indigenous rights and climate justice.

“We know that this pipeline and the LNG project in Kitimat that it serves are a climate disaster in the making,” he said.

READ MORE: B.C. hereditary chiefs ban Coastal GasLink from Wet’suwet’en lands

“The hereditary chiefs not only need to be consulted, they need to be heard. I stand with these chiefs who have peacefully protested to protect their land and call on the provincial and federal governments to respect the stand they have taken.”

In a Jan. 5 Facebook post the Green candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley in the 2019 federal election Mike Sawyer voiced his support for the eviction notice.

“If Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Horgan truly believe in reconciliation and in the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [UNDRIP], as they say they do, they would order the RCMP and military to stand down, instruct Coastal GasLink to obey the eviction notice, and then roll-up their collective sleeves and get down to demonstrating how reconciliation needs to happen,” said Sawyer, who further urged inclined individuals to voice their concern to their respective local members of Parliament.

Speaking further to The Interior News Sawyer said he felt the judge missed the point in her issuing of the updated injunction on Dec. 31, 2019, noting the case of Delgamuukw v British Columbia supersedes it in terms of court authority.

“We have Indigenous people who are saying legitimately look the Supreme Court of Canada said we have these rights but when we try to exercise these rights we get stomped on and other lower court judges issue these kinds of injunctions.”

Sawyer said he felt ultimately the problem is one for parliamentarians to deal with, however he doesn’t think they’re currently doing a very good job, on either the provincial or federal level.

“The sad reality is whether we look at provincial government or federal government, you know, they all want to pontificate about reconciliation and relationships with Indigenous communities and how they believe in UNDRIP but they don’t — their actions show that they don’t.”

Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) said the Province needs to act in accordance to their recent decision to adopt UNDRIP. You cannot say you respect UNDRIP and then send in the RCMP to remove hereditary chiefs from their own land when they have not provided consent,” said May.

British Columbia was the first Canadian province to adopt provincial legislation based on UNDRIP.

The Alberta company that is building the pipeline, TC Energy, says it has negotiated agreements with 20 First Nations band councils along the route of the pipeline.

The hereditary chiefs, however, have said multiple times they were never consulted and will not allow CGL access to traditional Wet’suwet’en territory without their free, prior, and informed consent.

The voice was echoed by members of the Green Party in Atlantic Canada.

“What happens in B.C. is of particular interest to Atlantic Canada as we also operate under peace and friendship treaties where no land was surrendered. How this conflict is handled will set an important precedent,” said Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin.

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en evict Coastal GasLink from work site near Houston

Atwin said these types of interventions will continue as long as there is confusion about collective inherent Indigenous rights to the land.

“With the adoption of UNDRIP in B.C., traditional governance is recognized in the duty to consult, defined as free, prior and informed consent. For the rest of Canada it is vital to understand that certain forms of extraction and development will be stalled due to Indigenous protests over environmental and cultural concerns deriving from grassroots movements even if companies or government officials claim they have the approval of elected chiefs and councils.”

Manly also noted the volatility of the situation in a request to TC Energy and the RCMP to respect the hereditary chiefs’ wishes and take no further action on the matter until a meeting can be arranged between the two parties

“This is a situation that could easily escalate,” said Manly.

The hereditary chiefs said during a Jan. 7 press release that they were not open to meeting with CGL but did want to meet with members of federal and provincial governments, as well as the commissioner of the RCMP, to discuss the matter.

The full Green Party statement can be read here.



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com

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