On Monday the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs launched a legal challenge to a proposed Coastal Gas Link (CGL) pipeline that would carry fracked gas through Wet’suwet’en Yintah (territory) in north-west B.C. to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Kitimat.
There has been a groundswell of support from across the country and around the world, as peaceful Indigenous land protectors face mounting threats from police and industry. Now, we have a chance to support a case that challenges the legitimacy of a fracked gas project that will bring climate impacts, man-camps and rights violations to a people who have not consented to the project.
Hereditary Chiefs representing all of the five Clans of the Wet’suwet’en unanimously support this legal action, which seeks a Judicial Review of a project extension for Coastal Gas Link’s pipeline, granted by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office last October. The Dinï ze’ and Ts’akë ze’ (Chiefs) wholeheartedly oppose the CNG project, which aims to blaze a trail through Wet’suwet’en territory and turn pristine forests and salmon streams into a fossil fuel corridor. Coastal GasLink has already bulldozed through Wet’suwet’en territories, destroying archaeological sites and occupying their land with industrial man-camps.
Wet’suwet’en Dinï ze’ and Ts’akë ze’ (Hereditary Chiefs) stand united in pursuing this legal action. Canadian law recognizes Wet’suwet’en traditional governance, as the Supreme Court explicitly stated in the groundbreaking Delgamuukw-
If CGL were to be built and become operational, it would irreversibly transform the ecology and character of northern B.C. It would also lock in decades of fossil fuel extraction at a time when scientists are warning of untold suffering unless all nations rapidly scale down production of fossil fuels.
“This case is about questioning the integrity of the environmental assessment process. In recommending that CGL be granted a project extension of 5 years, the EAO failed in its legislated duty to properly consider the facts, abdicated its responsibility to interrogate newly identified potential harms of this project, and has made a decision that is unjustified and unjustifiable,” said Caily DiPuma of Woodward and Co., legal counsel for the Wet’suwet’en. “Public confidence in the administration of BC’s environmental assessment system requires that the EAO be held to account for its failings.”
This legal challenge comes at a time when Canadians at large are increasingly concerned about the growing epidemic of violence against Indigenous women. The final report of the National Inquiry into MMIWG urged immediate action to address Canada’s “race-based genocide of Indigenous peoples,” and found that “work camps, or ‘man camps,’ associated with the resource extraction industry are implicated in higher rates of violence against Indigenous women at the camps and in the neighbouring communities.”
The Wet’suwet’en people, under the governance of their hereditary chiefs, have never consented to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project. This legal action seeks to overturn the EAO’s decision to extend Coastal GasLink’s certificate due to an established pattern of non-compliance from the project proponent. The Dinï ze’ and Ts’akë ze’ continue to resist colonial and gendered violence against Wet’suwet’en people, and to protect Wet’suwet’en lands for future generations.