What Are They Saying: First Nations Support Coastal Gaslink Pipeline
Protesters have been wreaking havoc in Canada recently in attempts to block the construction of a pipeline that would move natural gas from British Columbia to an LNG facility on the Pacific coast. While these “Keep It In the Ground” activists say they are acting in the best interests of indigenous populations, their actions are actually counter to those of the First Nations along the pipeline’s route.
Coastal GasLink has worked with First Nations in the area along the 670-kilometer route to ensure their land is respected, there are ample employment opportunities, and fair revenue sharing. Each of the 20 First Nations whose territory the pipeline crosses have signed agreements with the company.
In contrast to the claims of protesters, this project proves that honest collaboration and community relations among the business community and First Nations can lead to responsible development.
Here are a few things being said about the project and the protests:
Jason Kenney, Alberta Premier:
“They are not “Wet’suwet’en supporters. They are Wet’suwet’en opponents. They are leftists engaged in illegal activity to thwart the democratic will of the Wet’suwet’en as expressed by their elected government following years of consultation with their people.” (Twitter)
They are not “Wet’suwet’en supporters,” @CBCNews.
They are Wet’suwet’en opponents.
They are leftists engaged in illegal activity to thwart the democratic will of the Wet’suwet’en as expressed by their elected government following years of consultation with their people. https://t.co/r4ZVccpncD
— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) February 15, 2020
Crystal Smith, chief councilor for the Haisla First Nation:
“The opportunity that we have here is immeasurable. We have had industry in our territory for the last 50 to 60 years. The difference with this project is that we have had a meaningful partnership within it. That means an equal level of playing field in terms of our involvement of how this project is built, the standard in which it is built, and terms of that environmental aspect, what is suitable and what is acceptable for our Nation in terms of our cultural existence in this territory.” (APTN News)
Ellis Ross, former chief councilor for the Haisla First Nation:
“The fact is all 20 First Nations whose territory runs along the pathway of the Coastal GasLink pipeline — including the Wet’suwet’en — have each signed agreements with the company. Professional protesters and well-funded NGOs have merely seized the opportunity to divide our communities for their own gains, and ultimately will leave us penniless when they suddenly leave. … It is therefore truly ignorant for non-Aboriginals to declare that elected Aboriginal leaders are only responsible for ‘on reserve issues’ or are a ‘construct of the Indian Act meant to annihilate the Indian.’” (Vancouver Sun)
Nicole Rempel, K’òmoks First Nation Chief:
“This event was organized by non-indigenous Comox Valley residents who aren’t connected to our territory in the same way as K’òmoks, and in no way represent K’òmoks or our values. It is saddening to see the racist comments in social media aimed at our community when K’òmoks was not involved.” (Chek News)
Rene Skin, Skin Tyee First Nation Chief:
“We’ve always been in support of the pipeline. We voted together… Lots to do with jobs, up and coming housing, people will be able to start their own companies. For years to come there will be a lot of benefits.” (Burns Lake District News)
Dan George, Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation (Burns Lake Band) Chief and chair of the First Nations LNG Alliance:
“I had our community vote [on the Coastal Gaslink pipeline] and most of my community – 80 percent – voted in favor of the gasline, so that gave me my marching orders to do what I needed to do to negotiate the best deal I can for my people in my reserve. …There’s few economic opportunities that northern B.C. There’s a huge mountain pine beetle that has devastated all of the pine in northern B.C. and most of us First Nations have been loggers at one time or another throughout our lives, and there’s not very much logging. There are very few opportunities now and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.” (CBC News)
Karen Ogen-Towes, CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance:
“The committee should have been aware that the 20 First Nations participated extensively during five years of consultation on the pipeline and have successfully negotiated agreements with Coastal GasLink. This is on the public record. … To date, more than one-third of the work completed on the project has been conducted by Indigenous people. Coastal GasLink has earmarked $620 million in contracting opportunities to First Nations in BC. And there is more to come. All this is on the public record.” (Dawson Creek Mirror)
Former elected chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance explains why she wants to see her community come together and support the Coastal GasLink pipeline. pic.twitter.com/MOKLxEyEzf
— CBC News: The National (@CBCTheNational) February 13, 2020
Troy Young, Witset First Nation member:
“People in Canada have the right to protest. This is a democracy. It is unfortunate that they are protesting with only half the story being told.” (Vancouver Sun)
Val Litwin, president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce:
“We believe that only Indigenous nations have the right to speak for Indigenous nations. What is concerning today in B.C. is that many non-Indigenous protesters appear to be appropriating an Indigenous issue for their own self-serving purposes. These outsiders seem to think they know better than the group of 20 First Nations that approve the project after investing years into studying the impacts of LNG and the natural gas pipeline. These same outsiders also discount the benefits that signed agreements between the company and Indigenous nations will have on addressing poverty and improving the standard of living for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.” (Vancouver Sun)
John Ivison, Vancouver Sun columnist:
“The protests are in solidarity with the opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C. by hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. But a considerable number of ‘outsiders’ are using the dispute as an excuse for mischief. … The 670 km pipeline has support from the five Wet’suwet’en bands and their elected chiefs and councils, who have signed financial benefit agreements worth $338 million for the 20 bands along the route, plus contract work for Indigenous businesses estimated at $620 million.” (Vancouver Sun)