Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) speaks on behalf of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs at a press conference in the Office of the Wet’suwet’en in Smithers Jan. 7. Na’Moks said an eviction of Coastal GasLink from its work site near Houston is in effect and there will be no access without consent. (Thom Barker photo)

B.C. hereditary chiefs ban Coastal GasLink from Wet’suwet’en lands

Wet’suwet’en call for international week of solidarity on the anniversary of protester arrests

he eviction of Coastal GasLink (CGL) workers from Wet’suwet’en territory is in force and there will be no access without consent, hereditary chiefs said at a press conference in Smithers Tuesday afternoon.

The chiefs also demanded “that the Province cease construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project and suspend all permits.”

Following a B.C. Supreme Court decision Dec. 31 to extend a December 2018 temporary injunction allowing the pipeline company access to a worksite near Houston, the chiefs decided to exercise Wet’suwet’en law and told the remaining workers (mainly security guards) at the site to leave on Jan. 4.

The company complied and said when they returned on Jan. 5 they found trees felled on the Morice West Forest Service Road.

The press conference comes exactly one year to the day after the arrests of 14 opponents of the LNG pipeline project when the RCMP moved in to enforce the injunction and removed a Unist’ot’en (Dark House) checkpoint on the road.

Speaking to a group of supporters and members of the media at the Office of the Wet’suwet’en in Smithers Jan. 7, Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) said the Wet’suwet’en have no plans to meet with CGL officials, adding that they are “uninvited” to the territory.

In an email to The Interior News a spokesperson for Coastal Gaslink said the company is re-starting work this week across the 670-kilometre pipeline route but will not immediately go back to work at the Houston site and has requested a meeting with Na’Moks.

“We believe that dialogue is preferable to confrontation and will delay re-mobilization near Workforce Accommodation site 9A while engagement and a negotiated resolution remain possible.

“Based on Chief Na’Mok’s public comments, we anticipate a positive response to our meeting request and hope that a meeting can be set up quickly to resolve the issues at hand.”

At the press conference Na’Moks disagreed. He said a meeting between hereditary chiefs and CGL officials would not happen.

Instead, the Wet’suwet’en is requesting to meet with provincial and federal officials and the RCMP.

“If there are going to be meetings it will be between the decision makers,” said Na’Moks.

“That will be British Columbia, Canada and we would like to meet with the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”

READ MORE:

RCMP arrest 14 people in northern B.C. over anti-LNG pipeline protest

Wet’suwet’en First Nation looks ahead as court sides with natural gas company

Wet’suwet’en evict Coastal GasLink from work site near Houston

“We will not meet with local officials, we are the decision makers on this land. We will only meet with the decision makers. Coastal GasLink is merely a proponent and they are uninvited to this territory.”

Na’Moks said there has been no response from any level of government or from the RCMP to this point.

The Interior News reached out to the office of Premier John Horgan and was informed that Horgan was unavailable for an interview this week.

“We have had communication with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on access issues. We will maintain our peaceful stance on that, but thus far there has been no communication between elected officials and ourselves.”

During the conference Na’Moks also gave an update on the cause behind a number of felled trees on Morice West Forest Service Road.

“This is for our safety,” he said. “We have done this.”

He said there is no more trust today than there was preceding and following the events of Jan. 7, 2019.

“We have insecure thoughts on what [the RCMP] may do. They are not being clear to us on what their plans are. We are very clear and very open on what we do. We need to know what their plans are.”

In an emailed response to The Interior News an RCMP spokesperson said they were aware of the eviction notice and that their priority is to assess the situation and engage with industry, Indigenous communities and governments to faciliate a resolution which “ensures any protest activity is lawful, peaceful and safe.”

“Our frontline officers working out of the Community-Industry Safety Office (C-ISO) will continue to conduct patrols along the Morice West Forest Service Road corridor. The temporary detachment was placed there with the support of the hereditary chiefs on January 10, 2019 for a consistent and proximate police presence.

“We remain committed to ensuring the safety and security of all individuals involved and will take the actions necessary, using a carefully measured and scalable approach, should there be any criminal activities that pose a threat to individuals or property.”

Throughout the meeting Na’Moks stressed multiple times that the Wet’suwet’en are a peaceful people and want a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

“We are peaceful. But we will protect our territory. We are the rights and title holders. Once again I will remind you British Columbia and Canada only has assumed and presumed authority.

“We have 22,000 square kilometres of unceded, undefeated, non-treaty land that we speak on behalf of.”

In response to a question about whether or not further actions similar to last year when individuals physically blocked CGL contractors from accessing the site could be expected again this year, Na’Moks said he would not characterize the action as a blockade but that all the hereditary chiefs will support and enforce the eviction they have served CGL with.

“All the chiefs have agreed to it but we will do it peacefully. If they wish to force their way on that is not our choice, that is theirs. But we want pure communication between themselves and ourselves. This is our land. The access can only be given by the house the clans and the hereditary chiefs.”

The Wet’suwet’en are also calling for an international week of solidarity from “Indigenous and non-indigenous communities who uphold Indigenous sovereignty and recognize the urgency of stopping resources extraction projects that threaten the lives of future generations.”

“I don’t believe a true democratic country would allow this to happen… businesses don’t steer a country… they have to listen to the people,” Na’Moks said, adding that Jan. 7, 2019 is a day that has been ingrained into his peoples’ history.

“We will never ever forget what happened on this day last year. It goes into Wet’suwet’en history. It goes into British Columbian history. It goes into Canadian history.

“This is part of our story.”

With files from Thom Barker



editor@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan (left) and Kairry Nguyen. The family says they are relieved the trial process has come to close Monday morning with Tenessa Nikirk found guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sentencing begins for distracted driver in collision that left 11-year-old Island girl in coma

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit at a Saanich crosswalk in 2017

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor has expressed concerns about the excessive freighters parked in the Salish Sea for quite some time. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Premier-elect John Horgan, during a visit in Sidney, broadly promised improvements to transit among other issues in the riding of Saanich North and the Islands, even after voters re-elected BC Green Adam Olsen as Member of the Legislative Assembly. (Black Press Media file photo)
Premier-elect John Horgan promises to work with all MLAs and for all ridings

‘There are a whole bunch of views in the community and they need to be heard and I intend to listen.’

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Can you spot all 12 Days of Christmas displays at the Butchart Gardens? Jen Blyth photo.
The magic of Christmas returns to the Butchart Gardens

Some events cancelled due to COVID-10 but 12 Days of Christmas will brighten the season

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Victoria police are looking for high-risk offender Douglas McPherson. (Courtesy of VicPD)
High-risk parolee with history of bank robbery believed to be in Victoria

Police ask for public’s help locating 64-year-old parolee

A modular unit is lifted into place on the supportive housing complex at 580 Dogwood Street on Oct. 22. Photo by Cleo Corbett/City of Campbell River
Campbell River’s newest supportive housing facility rises on Dogwood Street

Pre-fab modular construction means the building can go on the foundation in under five days

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who rammed a police car to escape an arrest attempt. (File photo)
Drug trafficking suspect rams police vehicle in Nanaimo and escapes arrest

Suspect still at large after fleeing from police in Harewood on Friday afternoon

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

Most Read