About 50 people, including Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer, Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and a handful of Liberal MLAs, and B.C. Chamber of Commerce president Val Litwin, and Wetsuwet’en leaders took part in the Resource Roll-in outside the Civic Centre Wednesday.
Organized by The North Matters, the truck and speaking rally was a show of support for resource industries across the North, particularly LNG.
“We are the providers and protectors of our communities,” said Dave Johnston, an electrician from Kitimat and one of the founders of The North Matters. “By uniting and joining our residents within our communities across B.C. we can stand up and tell outsiders, who are paid to block our opportunities that we don’t need them.”
He claimed division and misinformation about the resource sector is coming from foreign-funded groups.
“We’re getting sick and tired of hearing their disinformation,” he said. “We always have, and continue to be, the best at responsibly developing our resources.”
Trudy Klassen, another The North Matters organizer, said the goal is raise the profile of resource workers.
“Canadian resource workers are not your enemies,” she said. “Yes, we extract minerals, we cut trees, we raise cattle, we grow grain on farmland. We have, and leave, an impact on the environment. However, we take care of the land. We are the guardians of nature.”
The specific project under the microscope right now is the Coastal GasLink pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, currently under construction and being opposed by Wet’suwet’en hereditary leadership.
Wet’suwet’en member Bonnie George told the rally that not all Wet’suwet’en oppose the pipeline project.
“It puts us in a really bad situation back home,” she said. “Not all Wet’suwet’en feel the same way. There’s lots of opinion out there and there’s lots of different feelings … Industry supported us for years and years.”
Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Russel Tiljoe, who said he was not representing anyone at the rally, spoke in favour the pipeline.
“I believe in the economy, the economy of British Columbia,” he said. “… We need to talk, we need jobs. We need to negotiate and find a level playing ground so we can get on with helping the government with the grassroots people … we need those people back on the job.”
Chief Gary Naziel said Witset was the last band of the 20 that signed on to the Coastal GasLink agreement and it took them two years to sign on.
“We wanted to get more educated about the process of building the pipe and environmental standards,” he said. “It’s good for the economy, the motels are making money. I’m here to speak for the grassroots chiefs who are silent.”