Some area First Nations are claiming victory after they say they kicked off employees of Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP) from their traditional lands when they went in to conduct some exploratory drilling along their pipeline right of way.
A press release issued on Nov. 16 declared that an alliance between the Unist’hot’en and the Likhts’amisyu, house members of the Wet’suwet’en nation, blockaded a road which lead to the Gosnell River area where drillers and geologists were working.
The alliance said that PTP had moved equipment into the area to do directional drilling which would have affected salmon spawning streams.
PTP’s communications contact, Paul Wyke with Apache Canada, said that the blockade actually didn’t affect their operations in the area.
“Pacific Trails Pipelines was doing some work near Gosnell Creek but we’ve wrapped up until next year,” he said. “Right now we just continue to consult with First Nations along the pipeline route.”
Spokesperson for the Unist’hot’en Freda Huson said that they don’t recognize any rights of PTP to do work in the area.
“I told [a representative of the company] when he came to see me ‘if you look at the Delgamuukw court case document, it doesn’t say Tribal Councils and it doesn’t say band offices,” said Huson.
Huson was referring to an agreement she said they were aware of for a training agreement between the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and PTP.
However Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Chief David Luggi said that while there are business agreements between between PTP and six of the Carrier Sekani bands individually there are no agreements directly with the Tribal Council.
Those bands have made arrangements through a group called the First Nations Limited Partnership.
However there is no permission for PTP to go through Unist’hot’en lands, said Huson.
“I said it don’t matter that you guys [PTP] signed this $500-plus million training agreement with this other aboriginal group. That does not permit you to come onto our territory,” she said.
She said they are concerned over the environmental impacts of drilling under salmon spawning waterways, and the fracking for the natural gas itself she said adversely affects water quality.
The PTP would send natural gas from Summit Lake near Prince George to a port in Kitimat and would be approximately 463 km long.
A representative from the Likhts’amisyu was not immediately available for comment on the blockade.