BC, First Nation Talks on CGL End Without Resolution
Direct talks between the BC government and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs aimed at ending a blockade preventing Coastal GasLink (CGL) from resuming work in central BC have broken off early, the pipeline company said February 4.
But the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, which represents the hereditary chiefs, insists the talks are continuing.
In a statement posted to its website by parent TC Energy, CGL said it appreciated the time taken by Scott Fraser, BC’s minister of indigenous relations and reconciliation, the five chiefs at the centre of the dispute and liaison Nathan Cullen to meet at a Wiggus Table (Wiggus is the Wet’suwet’en word for ‘respect’) for seven days to try to reach an agreement that would allow work to continue on the pipeline without CGL seeking enforcement of an injunction against the Wet’suwet’en.
“We are disappointed that discussions have ended without a resolution that would prevent the enforcement of the interlocutory injunction,” the statement said.
Senior executives of CGL had been standing by in Smithers in case they were asked to meet with the chiefs. That request, the CGL statement said, never came. Work needs to resume quickly on the pipeline, which will carry natural gas 670 km from northeast BC gas fields to LNG Canada’s liquefaction and export terminal at Kitimat, on BC’s northern coast, CGL said.
“In the coming days, Coastal GasLink will resume construction activities in the Morice River area in accordance with our permits and interlocutory injunction,” CGL’s statement said. “It is our hope that the resumption of construction activities occurs in a lawful and peaceful manner that maintains the safety of all in the Morice River area.”
In its own statement issued February 4, the Office of the Wet’suwet’en said the discussions, which began January 31 and were to have continued for seven days, are continuing.
“The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary chiefs remain committed to the Wiggus development process and will continue discussions with the Province of British Columbia,” the statement said. “Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs concerns are that safety be a priority for all Wet’suwet’en.”