VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination says he didn’t know that most First Nations agree on building the Coastal Gas Link pipeline.
In December, the UN Committee made up of 18 people, said in a written directive that it is concerned by the approval and construction of the three projects without the free, prior and informed consent of impacted Indigenous groups. Those three projects are the Coastal Gas Link Pipeline, Trans Mountain Pipeline and the Site C project.
In an interview with Reuters, Chairperson Noureddine Amir said he wasn’t aware the Coastal Gas Link Pipeline had backing from indigenous communities. Amir told Reuters, “I did not know that most First Nations agree on that. This is something new that comes to my understanding.”
Reuters staff then asked why the committee did not gather more information and were told that the committee’s role does not include investigations.
Members of the Wet’suwet’en have attempted to block construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline near Smithers, B.C. The natural gas pipeline is part of the massive $40-billion LNG Canada project.
The committee called on Canada to immediately cease the “forced eviction” of Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en people and guarantee that no force will be used against the two groups.
It also calls for the RCMP and other security and police to withdraw from their traditional lands.
Premier John Horgan said this week that the permitted project will go through and the rule of the law must be respected, law professor Margot Young said it’s not that simple.
There are other rights and laws, including Indigenous rights outlined in the constitution, local Wet’suwet’en laws, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people that should be considered, Young said.
All 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route have signed benefits agreements with the company including the Haisla Nation in Kitimat.