Coastal GasLink is allowed to continue building a natural gas pipeline through Wet’suwet’en traditional territory.
Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church issued the injunction, which continues an interim injunction issued last year, on Tuesday. The interim injunction resulted in the RCMP dismantling a blockade at the Gitdumt’en camp in the Morice River area south of Houston last January. Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have opposed construction of the pipeline for years.
“(Costal GasLink) acquired the permits and authorizations to conduct the work that it seeks to undertake,” Justice Church wrote in her decision. “The defendants may genuinely believe in their rights under indigenous law to prevent the plaintiff from entering Dark House territory, but the law does not recognize any right to blockade and obstruct the plaintiff from pursuing lawfully authorized activities.”
Coastal GasLink is pleased with the ruling.
“Coastal GasLink remains focused on constructing this approved and permitted $6.6-billion project safely and with respect for our Indigenous partners and local communities along the route,” according to a statement posted on the company’s website. “We are proud of the relationships we’ve built with all 20 First Nations along the corridor, the significant benefits we continue to deliver to Indigenous and local communities, and the role we are playing in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Coastal GasLink will continue to abide by the terms of the Access Protocol agreed with Dark House and the Unist’ot’en Camp for access beyond the Morice River bridge and will continue efforts to engage with any affected groups to ensure public safety while our field crews continue to progress their critical activities.”
The ruling, however, is being rejected by the hereditary chiefs, who are calling on the province to withdraw the RCMP from the area. They claim enforcement of the injunction will lead to the “forcible removal of Wet’suwet’en people from our own lands and the bulldozing of our homes, continuing the violent displacement that our ancestors experienced.”
They stress that Wet’suwet’en have never ceded lands to Canada or British Columbia.
“In this time of reconciliation, with B.C .being the first province to legislate UNDRIP, this ruling by a court in B.C. against Indigenous rights and recognition truly proves that industry, not the people, can control the province and its laws,” said Dini’ze Na’moks (John Ridsdale). “Ultimately, we are our own government, and we decide who comes on our territory. We are the hereditary chiefs. British Columbia and Canada only have assumed and presumed authority on our lands.”