A Unist’ot’en camp supporter walks over ground where Coastal GasLink allegedly destroyed a trapline. (Michael Toledano photo)

Unist’ot’en demand work stoppage of Coastal GasLink pipeline project

Wet’suwet’en house claims company is violating the law and injunction agreement

The Unist’ot’en (Dark house) of the Wet’suwet’en are demanding a complete work stoppage of Coastal GasLink’s pipeline project south of Houston.

The Unist’ot’en encampment issued a press release early Monday morning claiming the company is not living up to the conditions of its permit or an interim injunction enforcement agreement reached with RCMP earlier this month.

“Under the conditions of Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and BC Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC) permits, Coastal Gaslink (CGL) is required to have completed a site-specific archaeological survey before undertaking any clearing work on the proposed man-camp site in Unist’ot’en Territory known as Camp 9A,” the release stated. “CGL acknowledged in their injunction application that these archaeological surveys have not been completed.”

The Unist’ot’en had been blocking the company’s access to the site until hereditary chiefs agreed on Jan. 10 to abide by a B.C. Supreme Court interim injunction issued in December. The temporary injunction is scheduled to last until May 1.

Read more: Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Late last week, The Interior News reported that Coastal GasLink had temporarily ceased operations due to a dispute over a trapline the Unist’oten said was bulldozed in violation of Section 46 of the Wildlife Act and the injunction agreement.

The company claimed in a release Jan. 24 that the Unist’ot’en were violating the agreement by continuing to set traplines.

Freda Huson, Unis’tot’en camp founder and spokesperson, insisted it was Coastal GasLink that was at fault.

“They were supposed to not interfere with our trapping and our cultural practices on our land,” she said. “That was the second agreement that was made and was broken.”

Read more: Coastal GasLink stops work over pipeline dispute in northern B.C.

This morning’s release claimed the RCMP is refusing to enforce the law and agreement.

“In violation of this agreement, RCMP have threatened Wet’suwet’en trappers with arrest for attempting to access their traplines, and warned healing centre patients that they could be arrested for participating in ceremony,” the Unist’ot’en said.

The Interior News has requested a statement from the RCMP, but has so far not received one.

The Mounties’ last public communication on the issue came Jan. 14.

“The agreement allowed for access by the company across the Morice River Bridge by the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre,” police said. “As well, the ability for the temporary exclusion zone to be removed, and a framework for the continued police presence in the area moving forward.

“This weekend (Jan. 12-13), the implementation of the agreement has occurred without any significant issues. We are currently in the process of bringing in our temporary detachment that will support the safety in the area for all persons. The hereditary chiefs have kindly offered to provide cultural awareness training to all members assigned and to ensure that a traditional process is followed to welcome the detachment to the territory.”

Furthermore, the Unist’ot’en said they were told by the Conservation Officer Service (COS) that “investigating this ongoing crime is not a priority for their office.”

The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum resources responded to requests from The Interior News with the following statement:

“On January 25, 2019 the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) Compliance and Enforcement (C&E) received complaints relating to the construction activities of the Coastal Gaslink by the Wet’suwet’en.

“EAO C&E has since been in contact with the Oil and Gas Commission (OGC), the Conservation Officer Service as well as other relevant provincial agencies.

“The EAO C&E will be conducting a joint site inspection with the OGC this week to evaluate the complaint directly.

“We anticipate that it will take some time subsequently to determine whether any non-compliances are evident and, if so, the appropriate enforcement action.”

The Interior News has also requested a response from Coastal GasLink.

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