Edmonton rally to support B.C. First Nation's anti-pipeline checkpoint

Jeannie Matthews
January 10, 2019

Hereditary Chief Na'Moks of the Wet'suwet'en Nation confirmed Tuesday night talks were underway to reach "a peaceful solution" after Monday's raid at a checkpoint 20 km down the road from the camp.

Mounties were enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction granted to a TransCanada Corp. subsidiary, Coastal GasLink. Canada and B.C. should do the same.

"I've never been in a situation where I've had to come here and stand and see a big opposition happening when we're just peacefully talking, peacefully lending our voices", he said. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, B.C. Premier Horgan, and Coastal GasLink must respect the rights of the Wet'suwet'en.

The Regina rally was organized by Canada Action, a group that has now held dozens of rallies in support of pipelines.

"The big thing is we've got to be able to support our communities that said yes to this (project) because it's their community that needs that financial benefit", he said.

"It's about getting out of poverty and finding a way for our people".

One of Tuesday's largest protests began on Parliament Hill and proceeded through downtown Ottawa.

The company says it has signed agreements with all First Nations along the route for LNG Canada's $40-billion liquefied natural gas project in Kitimat, but demonstrators argue Wet'suwet'en house chiefs, who are hereditary rather than elected, have not given consent.

"If this was really about the "rule of law" then governments would be honouring the rights and title of First Nations in their traditional territories, which are recognized by Canada's own courts", Bellegarde added.

In December, British Columbia's Supreme Court issued an injunction that ordered the protesters to let workers through, leading to this week's standoff. "Real consensus will be built when the parties, with very different views, come together in meaningful and productive dialogue. And I am confident that they can do this".

In a statement, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor-General Mike Farnworth said any enforcement action taken by the RCMP is an operational matter and at arm's length from the provincial government. She was released but the 13 other people arrested were taken to Prince George, he said.

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The camp was established nearly 10 years ago as a checkpoint to manage entry to traditional territories, but an injunction issued late last year ordered removal of gates across the forest service road.

"What happened and what is circulating on social media is setting the tone for 2019, which could prove to be battleground for issues with regard to native rights issues and resource development", he said. "Would you do that to China or Italy or another sovereign nation?"

New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen, who represents the area, said the conflict has been developing for years - in part because of a failure to recognize the nuances between elected and hereditary Indigenous governments.

Organizers believe the police are headed for Unist'ot'en Camp, members of which are listed in the court injunction.

RCMP say the zone remains in place and will be consistently re-assessed.

The defendants are also prohibited from threatening, intimidating or getting within 10 metres of anyone actively working on the project.LNG Canada announced on October 2 that its joint venture participants had taken a positive investment decision to construct the Kitimat export facility.B.C.

Tait says there had been concerns at the Unist'ot'en camp, citing a "tense climate" there with the possibility of demonstrators being removed for restricting access to the pipeline.

Indigenous resistance fighters and their allies are anxious that an RCMP raid is imminent, as police have gathered in Smithers, B.C., and Houston, B.C., the two closest towns to the Gidimt'en checkpoint.

In Vancouver, police were forced to shut down roads as hundreds marched through the city's downtown chanting, drumming and carrying placards.

Protesters storm a building where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to address a forum bringing together federal officials and representatives from self-governing First Nations that have "modern" treaties with the Crown in Ottawa on January 8, 2019.

"This is wrong and we have to stop it".

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