To the Editor,
Canada and B.C. as well as Coastal Gaslink (CGL) have, through unkept promises, un-obtained consent, and unfaithful bargaining created a precarious situation.
Within Canada’s Constitution, the Royal Proclamation describes that indigenous nations “should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of Our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded… are reserved to them… as their Hunting Grounds.”
British Columbia was not yet a province at the time of the Royal Proclamation, and as such has stubbornly denied its applicability in regards to negotiations for land claim settlements on unceded territories.
B.C. and the Feds also don’t seem to acknowledge The Supreme Court’s Delgamuukw decision, which further defined Indigenous peoples’ exclusive right and title, and went further, describing B.C.’s powerlessness to extinguish Aboriginal rights through laws.
Beyond ignoring Delgamuukw, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which both Gov’s signed and pledged to legally align with, describes that free, prior and informed consent must be obtained for projects to go ahead on indigenous territory.
CGL bargained cash and jobs with Band Councils in exchange for access. However, the Federal Indian Act created Band Councils for Reservations. UNDIP asserts the indigenous right to their own type of governance. The jurisdiction of the contested pipeline land is that of the hereditary chiefs, not Reservation land. They did not give consent. Interestingly, the hereditary chiefs did give Coastal Gaslink an alternate pipeline routing.
What? All this could have been avoided? Yes. The current pipeline route crosses culturally sensitive Wet’suwet’en territory including burial grounds and a multi-millennia old trade trail.
CGL (worth $6.6Billion) was granted four BC Government concessions: 32-59 million dollars per year in Hydro, exemptions from BC carbon tax increases ($62 million/year), a corporate income tax break of 3+%, and a 20-year deferral of provincial tax on construction (an interest free loan: $17–21 million/year). Plus Federal breaks. CGL said that the route change proposed by the hereditary chiefs was too expensive.
The Federal and Provincial Government’s crying ‘Rule of Law’, while mandating the RCMP as corporate thugs on Wet’suwet’en territory screams of hypocrisy and a travesty of justice. CN should be going after CGL for lost revenue and wages from railway blockades, not laying people off. B.C. should be investigated for conflict of interest. And Canada needs to learn what reconciliation really means, and then some.
Also, it should be understood that the mainstream press erroneously frames the Wet’suwet’en protests as anti-pipeline. This is not so. They are protesting against non-consensual entrance, or trespass. These are actions supporting rights of self governance. These are actions supporting the foundations of a just society. No corporation, or government should be able to trample on that, no matter how much the doggedly cling to denial.