HOUSTON, B.C. – Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation are alleging the company trying to build a natural gas pipeline through its territory “wilfully, illegally, and violently destroyed” its property this weekend.
Coastal GasLink, which is working to build the pipeline from northeastern British Columbia to Kitimat on the coast, said its actions have been permitted and lawful.
Jen Wickham, a member of the Gidimt’en clan within the nation, said Coastal GasLink bulldozed three tents constructed with timber and canvas in an area along a logging road not included in the company’s plans.
“CGL workers just tore down all our stuff, threw them in (shipping containers) and said we had until the end of the day to pick them up or they would be thrown in the dump,” she said.
The tents were constructed when members erected a barrier at the same location, where RCMP enforced a court injunction on Jan. 7 and arrested 14 people in a move that sparked protests around the world.
Wickham said members of the First Nation told RCMP they wanted the tents to remain to host cultural workshops.
Following the enforcement of the court injunction, the road was plowed around the tents allowing free movement of vehicles.
Coastal GasLink said in a statement that all work it’s doing is “approved and permitted and in full compliance” with its environmental assessment certificate issued by the province and the company has met all required pre-construction conditions.
“These areas are active work zones that are lawful and permitted. Any obstruction impeding our crews from safely accessing these work zones is in contravention of a court order,” Coastal GasLink said.
The tents were frozen to the ground and two were in a “pullout” area, while one was “directly” on a road that the company said was covered in snow despite the routes around it.
RCMP and the provincial government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.