Hundreds rallied in Old Massett and Skidegate on Tuesday night to support the Wet’suwet’en people who oppose a natural gas pipeline that will cross their territory.
Trevor Russ, who was recently re-elected vice president of the Council of the Haida Nation, welcomed the turnout in Old Massett and said the CHN and Haida hereditary leaders are discussing ways to support Wet’suwet’en opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
“We gather to show our support for our Wet’suwet’en relatives,” said Russ.
“It’s a tough situation they find themselves in. It’s a colonial government, and right now the RCMP are trying to enforce the injunction that was put down back in December.”
Owned by TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), Coastal GasLink is a 670-km pipeline project expected to deliver natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to the $40-billion LNG Canada liquefaction plant and export terminal being built in Kitimat.
Coastal GasLink has signed benefit agreements with the 20 First Nation elected band councils near the pipeline route, including the elected council of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation band west of Burns Lake.
However, despite 120 meetings over six years between Coastal GasLink and Wet’suwe’ten hereditary leaders, the hereditary chiefs of all five Wet’suwet’en clans remain opposed to the pipeline.
Related: John Horgan says LNG pipeline meets standard of Indigenous relations
Related: Come together for the Wet’suwet’en people, says former elected chief
Several of the chiefs joined efforts to block Coastal GasLink workers from accessing the pipeline route at a pair of road checkpoints set up near the Morice River south of Houston, B.C.
Following a B.C. Supreme Court injunction issued in favour of Coastal GasLink in December, on Tuesday heavily armed RCMP officers dismantled one of the two checkpoints and arrested 14 people.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the RCMP met at the Unist’ot’en cultural camp near the other checkpoint to discuss a resolution.
Related: Unist’ot’en open gate
Speaking at the Old Massett rally, Reg Davidson echoed the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who say the jurisdiction of elected band councils only extends to reserves, not traditional territories.
“They have no jurisdiction over the land,” Davidson said.
“It’s like the mayor of Vancouver giving permission for the pipeline to go through the Fraser Valley.
“It’s the same idea — it doesn’t make sense.”