HOUSTON, B.C. – Coastal GasLink says they’ve tried to meet with hereditary chiefs that have built a blockade on the Morice River Bridge.
In a statement released Monday, Coastal GasLink says they have made several attempts to meet with hereditary chiefs including another attempt on Monday. The meeting on Monday included the RCMP, and the group was unable to come to a resolution to gain access across the bridge.
The RCMP arrested 14 people from a blockade on Monday as the enforced the alleged violations of an injunction order against the blockade.
They allege officers saw a number of fires being lit along the roadway.
Members of the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation had set up a camp and a checkpoint in the area, southwest of Houston, which they said was to control access.
The Gidimt’en clan say they have not agreed to the development of a pipeline across their land. A total of five clans make up the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. The Wet’suwet’en First Nation has signed on and supports the project.
In the statement released Monday by Coastal GasLink, they state they tried to have open discussions about resolving the issue. “Instead we have always strived for opportunities to have an honest, open discussion about how to resolve this issue. It is unfortunate that the RCMP must take this step so that lawful access for this public bridge and road can be re-established.”
The statement goes onto say “We respect the rights of individuals to peacefully express their point of view, as long as their activities do not disrupt or jeopardize the safety of the public, our employees, our contractors, and even themselves.”
We were unable to come to a resolution to gain access across the Morice River bridge in B.C. We understand the RCMP have begun to enforce the injunction order granted to Coastal GasLink. This is not an outcome we ever wanted. Read our latest update: https://t.co/Unj82vXQCL.
— Coastal GasLink (@CoastalGasLink) January 8, 2019
The pipeline by TransCanada subsidiary Coastal GasLink would carry natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to Kitimat.
The company says it has signed agreements with all First Nations along the route for LNG Canada’s $40-billion liquefied natural gas project in Kitimat, but demonstrators argue Wet’suwet’en house chiefs, who are hereditary rather than elected, have not given consent.
A news release issued Sunday on behalf of Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says all five Wet’suwet’en clans, including the Gidimt’en, oppose the construction of oil and gas pipelines in their territory.
“The provincial and federal governments must revoke the permits for this project until the standards of free, prior and informed consent are met,” Phillip says in the release.
LNG Canada announced in October that it was moving ahead with its plans for the Kitimat export facility.
Construction on the $6.2-billion pipeline, which is 670 kilometres long, is scheduled to begin this month.
B.C. Premier John Horgan said LNG Canada’s decision would help an economically deprived region of the province and bring in an estimated $23 billion in provincial revenue.
Around 2012, the Unist’ot’en camp set up a blockade by constructing a gate and other obstacles to the area, and a second gate was recently constructed at the Morice River Bridge, the company said in a document filed with the court.
TransCanada has said it is not asking for the camp at the bridge to be dismantled, only for access to its pipeline right of way.
Marches were planned across the country on Tuesday to support members of the Gidimt’en clan who oppose the pipeline project.
(with files from the CANADIAN PRESS)