Pipeline talks fail between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, province

Hereditary chiefs say RCMP enforcement is ‘imminent’

After two days of discussion, talks between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the province over the contentious natural gas pipeline in northern B.C. have failed to produce a resolution.

The groups announced on Jan. 30 they would meet for a week-long set of talks about the Coastal GasLink pipeline project.

But late Tuesday night, the Office of the Wet’suwet’en announced those talks had ended.

“Coastal GasLink declined to see this discussion resulting in progress,” the office said a statement. “Therefore, the enforcement of the injunction zone is imminent.”

Said Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser: “While we were not successful in finding a resolution to the current situation, we continue to remain open to dialogue with the Wet’suwet’en leadership on this issue.”

Coastal GasLink has said crews are indeed preparing to go back to work.

“In the coming days, Coastal GasLink will resume construction activities in the Morice River area in accordance with our permits and interlocutory injunction,” the statement said.

“It is our hope that the resumption of construction activities occurs in a lawful and peaceful manner that maintains the safety of all in the Morice River area.”

The talks stemmed from a year-long battle between the northern First Nation and the natural gas company. The leaders of the First Nation have said they never consent to a natural gas pipeline through their traditional territory.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nations along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre route from northeastern B.C. to an export terminal in Kitimat but the hereditary clan chiefs say it has no authority without their consent.

The B.C. Supreme Court granted the company an injunction on Dec. 31. The order called for the removal of any obstructions including cabins and gates on any roads, bridges or work sites the company has been authorized to use.

It also gives authorization to the RCMP to arrest and remove anyone police have “reasonable or probable grounds” to believe has knowledge of the order and is contravening it.

READ MORE: RCMP pipeline checkpoint ‘arbitrary and discriminatory,’ say B.C. complainants

ALSO READ: Pro-Wet’suwet’en youth group stages sit-in at Manitoba Liberal MP’s office

The enforcement of a previous injunction a year ago resulted in the arrests of 14 people.

The Interior News is currently onsite to monitor the situation.

READ MORE: Gidimt’en clan condemning RCMP action after elder arrested at checkpoint

– with files from The Canadian Press and Thom Barker


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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