HOUSTON, B.C. – Members of a First Nation in northern British Columbia who oppose a planned pipeline through their traditional territory say they will build a new camp to block its path.
A statement posted on Facebook on Tuesday says the Likhts’amisyu clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation is asserting its sovereignty by creating “a new, permanent land reclamation on their territory.”
It says the camp will be “strategically located in order to impede the ability of the Coastal GasLink corporation to force their pipeline through Wet’suwet’en land.”
The Coastal GasLink pipeline would transport natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to LNG Canada’s export terminal on the coast in Kitimat, B.C.
The company says it has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along its path but the hereditary clan chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation say the project has no authority without their approval.
In January, RCMP enforced an injunction against members of the nation’s Gidim’den clan and supporters who built a blockade along a logging road toward the project’s work site.
The Unist’ot’en camp, led by members of another clan, was conceived as a re-occupation of the land and has been a focal point of resistance against Coastal GasLink and other proposed oil and gas projects for almost 10 years.
“It’s important that people realize this fight is far from over,” the statement says.
“The events of December and January should be regarded as one phase in a struggle that has been going on for a decade. A new phase of struggle will begin in the spring of this year, and it may prove to be the decisive one.”
Coastal GasLink says in an emailed statement that it is aware of social media discussions regarding the construction of new structures in areas near the company’s right of way.
Preliminary construction activities are underway and the project has permits and authorizations from British Columbia’s environmental assessment office and the BC Oil and Gas Commission, it says.
“We continue to work collaboratively with Indigenous communities to ensure the pipeline is built in an environmentally sustainable manner that ensures First Nation members, businesses and local communities maximize their economic opportunities.”
The Likhts’amisyu clan statement calls for volunteers to help build a cabin, outbuildings and a structure for a kitchen, dining room and bunks from April 28 to May 18.
The camp will be led by warrior chiefs Dsahayl and Smolgelgem, who is also known as Warner Naziel and co-founded the Unist’ot’en camp.
“We will be building permanent buildings on our territory in an effort to assert our pre-colonial rights and jurisdiction on our lands,” the chiefs say in a statement.
The project’s website also says they are embarking on “a path of litigation (that) will hold all colonial antagonizers accountable for their actions against our people.”
— By Amy Smart in Vancouver