Even with an agreement reached earlier this month between the RCMP and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs allowing Coastal GasLink to begin work on a pipeline south of Houston, tensions remain high.
Work was halted earlier this week as Coastal GasLink workers encountered wildlife traps on the construction site.
“While conducting approved and permitted work in the ancillary sites of the project, approximately 17 kilometres from the Morice Bridge location, Coastal GasLink crews encountered newly erected animal traps in the trees and newly erected signage stating there were traps on the work site,” according to a statement on the company’s website. “Coastal GasLink had previously provided notice to trappers that work was being done in the area, to ensure awareness and to prevent any disturbance to traditional activities.”
The work occurring on the access roads, ancillary sites and the right-of-way is an active construction site accessible to authorized personnel only, it says.
“Safety is our top priority,” reads the statement. “Accessing an active construction site where heavy equipment is at work and placing traps in an active construction site poses a threat to our people as well as those on the site unauthorized.”
A statement on the Unist’ot’en Camp website says Coastal GasLink drove a bulldozer through ‘the heart’ of a local trapline.
“Trapping is part of our healing centre programming; we return to the land to heal from the trauma of colonization,” reads the statement. “Damage to the trapline represents a direct attack on our healing centre and the wellness of our Wet’suwet’en people.”
It says Coastal GasLink workers were told it is a violation of the Wildlife Act to interfere with trapping. It also refutes Coastal GasLink’s claim that notice was given.
“We were notified in June that parts of our trapline may be affected in August 2020,” reads the statement. “Two traps along the trapline are unaccounted for and may have been destroyed. CGL continues to disrespect our yintah, our culture, our people, and our traditional practices.”
Coastal GasLink has notified the RCMP of the traps being placed on the site.