Indigenous Canadian group says it ordered workers to leave disputed pipeline site

OTTAWA, Nov. 15 (Reuters) – An indigenous group in British Columbia’s Canadian Pacific Province said they ordered workers to leave the site of TC Energy Corp’s (TRP.TO) Coastal GasLink pipeline, the latest stop on a protracted conflict.

The hereditary chiefs of the five clans of the Wet’suwet’en people, opposed to the project, have been trying for more than a year to force a stop to work in the north of the province.

Coastal, which is owned by private equity firm KKR & Co Inc (KKR.N), Alberta Investment Management Corp and TC, says it is allowed to work on the pipeline, citing an injunction granted by the Supreme Court of the British Columbia in 2019 against lockdowns. prevent worker access. He says the protests are illegal.

Coastal GasLink said in a statement on its website Monday that it was concerned for the safety of its workers after logging roads leading to their homes were blocked.

Trees were felled and project vehicles and equipment were vandalized in the area, Coastal said.

The C $ 6.6 billion pipeline will transport natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to the Pacific coast to supply LNG Canada’s export terminal, which is being built by Royal Dutch Shell ( RDSa.L) and its partners. Some 28% of the 670 km (420 mile) route passes through Wet’suwet’en lands.

In a statement released on Sunday, one of the clans, the Gidimt’en, said they had asked Coastal GasLink employees to leave the area. The company said it had made “multiple efforts” to seek dialogue but received no response.

No one at Gidimt’en or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was immediately available for comment on Monday.

The dispute represents a potential challenge for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has made reconciliation with Canada’s marginalized Indigenous population a priority. He also says Canada will depend on fossil fuels for decades to come, however.

All of the First Nation band councils elected along the Coastal GasLink route support the project. But the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs oppose this and claim that it is they, and not the elected representatives of the community, who hold authority over traditional lands.

“The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have never ceded, surrendered or lost title to this territory during the war. It means what they say is valid,” a spokesperson said in a statement. .

Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Dan Grebler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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