Wet’suwet’en vs. the Queen: Seeking Legal Redress in the Face of Rights Violations

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are requesting a judicial review of a decision made by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office to extend the environmental certificate for the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The request, filed Feb. 3, argues an extension should not have been granted in light of more than 50 instances of non-compliance with the conditions of Coastal GasLink permits and in light of the findings of Canada’s National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Coastal Gaslink is proposing a 400-person worker camp just 13 kilometres from the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, where Indigenous community members can seek land-based, traditional healing with exceptional facilities and professionals. The area at risk is also located 66 kilometres from the Highway of Tears, infamous for missing and murdered Indigenous women in British Columbia. There are a total of 14 work camps proposed to support the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Last week, Hereditary Chiefs representing all of the five Clans of the Wet’suwet’en unanimously supported a 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 legal action argues that the B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office failed to properly assess the Coastal Gas Link project’s potential harms, including the risk of increased gender-based violence caused by transient workers and industrial camps, in accordance with the findings and calls to action of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This is based on the Inquiry’s final report of June 2019 which found that resource extraction is linked to spikes in violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people, and called on governments to conduct a gender-based harms analysis prior to approving projects.

On Monday, Feb 10, two Wet’suwet’en Houses launched a second legal challenge, asking the Federal Court to declare that Canada has a constitutional duty to keep the country’s greenhouse gas emissions well within the Paris Agreement limit of 2 ̊C above pre-industrial levels. If successful, the lawsuit could lead to far-reaching changes to Canada’s environmental legislation. It would enable the federal cabinet to cancel approvals previously given to fossil fuel projects such as Coastal Gas Link, LNG terminals and others.


Support their legal cases by donating or fundraising, you can also learn more about the cases here.


The blog post includes excerpts from The Narwhal, which can be found in full here: https://thenarwhal.ca/b-c-failed-to-consider-links-between-man-camps-violence-against-indigenous-women-wetsuweten-argue/

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