Canada

First Nations groups in B.C. urge federal government to halt pipeline production

Members of the Secwepemc, Tsleil Waututh, and Wet’suwet’en nations are calling on the federal government to cease pipeline construction after a United Nations committee condemned Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people.

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Several First Nations groups are calling on the federal government to halt pipeline production in B.C. after a United Nations committee again condemned Canada for its treatment of Indigenous people.

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In the April 29 letter to the Canadian government, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination says the provincial and federal governments have allowed the increase of force and criminalization by the RCMP against Indigenous “land defenders and peaceful protesters.”

The letter, which is the third one sent to the government, also says despite repeated calls to Canada to cease forced evictions of Indigenous people, the efforts to remove and incarcerate have only increased.

The committee says it has received information that alleges the governments of B.C. and Canada “have not taken measures to engage in consultations with Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en peoples regarding the Trans Mountain Pipeline and the Coastal Gas Link Pipeline.”

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It also says there is concern the situation could deteriorate the rights of the Indigenous people, “in particular the rights to their lands and territories, the right to be consulted and the right to security of the person.”

Members of the Wet’suwet’en, Tsleil Waututh, and Secwepemc Nations will hold a joint press conference this morning at 9 a.m. calling on Canada to suspend construction of the Coastal Gaslink and Trans Mountain pipelines, withdraw RCMP from their lands, and stop police repression of their members.

The news conference is in response to the UN committee’s letter.

In a news release, the Wet’suwet’en, Secwepemc and Tsleil-Waututh say the letter signals “growing international alarm about Canada’s human rights record and ongoing human and Indigenous rights violations against land defenders.”

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In November, members of the Gidimt’en clan ordered all Coastal GasLink employees to leave the Wet’suwet’en territory in the B.C. Interior. However, Coastal GasLink said a B.C. Supreme Court injunction allows the company to have “continued safe access” to the area.

The 20 elected First Nations councils along the pipeline’s path approved the project, but Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs from all five clans of the nation claimed the project had no authority without consent through their traditional system of governance.

The B.C. and federal governments have yet to respond to this call to halt pipeline construction.

More to come…

—with files from The Canadian Press

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