Miscommunication led to three people turned away at pipeline checkpoint: RCMP

Daniel Fowler
January 17, 2020

"There are agreements from the Peace country to Kitimat with Indigenous communities that want to see economic activity and prosperity take place". "All the permits are in place for this project to proceed".

On Monday, Horgan stated publicly that the "rule of law" applies in B.C., and that the project will proceed despite the longstanding opposition of Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs. Supporters of the leaders cut trees along a road to a Coastal GasLink work site and build a new support camp.

Under the supervision of Lihkt'samisyu Chief Dsta'hyl, and following the eviction of Coastal Gaslink from unceded Wet'suwet'en territory, Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs granted Coastal Gaslink one-time access to Dark House yintah to winterize Site 9A. Last January, the RCMP arrested 14 protesters at a checkpoint along the road, drawing coverage from worldwide media.

They already occupy two other camps along the road.

While Premier John Horgan said this week that the permitted project will go through and the rule of the law must be respected, law professor Margot Young said it's not that simple.

The B.C. Supreme Court granted Coastal GasLink the injunction December 31 and the order authorizes RCMP to arrest and remove anyone they have reasonable or probable grounds to believe is knowingly contravening the order.

Coastal GasLink posted the injunction order last week giving opponents 72 hours to clear the way to its work site.

"It was emphasized that the primary concerns for the RCMP are the safety of the public and officers", says a statement released Monday.

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RCMP is also reminding residents the checkpoint on Morice West Forest Service Road is not an exclusion zone.

During a press conference on Wednesday (Jan15), speakers voiced concern about the access control checkpoint at the 27-kilometer mark on Morice West Forest Service Road that was set up Monday morning (Jan 13).

The RCMP said its operations commander had conducted a review of officers' actions at the checkpoint and concluded police appeared to be acting professionally and in good faith.

Those who enter the area on the road are stopped by the police and receive a copy of the court order, as well as information about hazards and road conditions.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Stratchan has met with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary and elected chiefs and other stakeholders, the statement said. It says it's not enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to allow time for dialogue between the hereditary chiefs and Coastal GasLink. But in Wet'suwet'en law, the land is overseen by hereditary chiefs who largely oppose the project, raising questions about whether authority lies with colonial power structures or traditional ones.

Horgan said Indigenous Peoples in B.C. have used the courts to successfully assert their rights and title, but in "this instance the courts have confirmed that the project can proceed and will proceed".

The UN statement says that indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination, meaning they can determine their political status and pursue economic, social and cultural development.

As the federal government rushes to write its own legislation based on that document, we're finding out this week's discussions could have major implications for the way resources are extracted and who benefits from such projects in Canada. "Free, prior, and informed consent is not an enhanced consultation process, and states can not ignore the decisions made by Indigenous people through their own systems of governance and decision making that they have freely chosen for themselves". "It's not retrospective. We believe it will open up opportunities not just for Indigenous people but for all British Columbians".

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