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Coastal GasLink delaying work in Wet’suwet’en after requesting meeting with Hereditary Chiefs

Tensions rise again over pipeline project
WATCH: Tensions are rising once again over a northern B.C. pipeline project, with First Nations chiefs demanding the province suspend all permits. Sarah MacDonald reports.

Coastal GasLink (CGL) has written to Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Namoks to set up a meeting to discuss issues important to the five chiefs.

While the company waits for a response it has announced plans to delay re-mobilization near Workforce Accommodation Site 9A while engagement and a negotiated resolution remain possible.

On Saturday, the Wet’suwet’en presented security staff working for the pipeline company with an eviction notice.

READ MORE: B.C. First Nation chiefs serve eviction notices to company looking to build gas pipeline

“While CGL is re-starting work generally across the right-of-way, we believe that dialogue is preferable to confrontation,” reads a statement from Coastal GasLink.

“Coastal GasLink has informed the Unist’ot’en that we will periodically need to visit sites in and around Site 9A for safety and environmental reasons while the accommodation site remains unoccupied.”

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First Nations chiefs shut down pipeline work
First Nations chiefs shut down pipeline work

Coastal GasLink is building a $6.6-billion pipeline from Dawson Creek to the planned LNG Canada export terminal near Kitimat.

CGL is owned by TC Energy Corporation, formerly TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.

The pipeline company has signed agreements to build the pipeline with elected First Nations governments along the route but not with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain, LNG pipeline among projects UN racism committee urges to be stopped

Previously the two sides had an agreement to allow access to areas beyond the Morice River Bridge and ensure the safety of all users, including those at the Unist’ot’en protest camp. The Unist’ot’en describe themselves as the “toughest of the Wet’suwet’e’n.”

As part of the agreement, Coastal GasLink provided the Unist’ot’en with funding to pay for their own full-time security in and around the bridge area.

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On Dec. 31, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Justice Marguerite Church ruled protesters could not block workers from getting through their checkpoints along a remote logging road near Houston, B.C.

First Nations opponents of the project had argued the checkpoints are legal under Wet’suwet’en law because the company doesn’t have permission from the hereditary chiefs.

“We are doing it to protect the land, the air, the rights and title of our peoples,” John Risdale, who goes by traditional name Chief Namoks, said.

“We believe her ruling was incomplete because she had not done her research properly.”