Pipeline supporters rally in Houston, while MP urges dialogue in the dispute

John Crawford
02/20/2020

Supporters of the Coastal GasLink project decided it was time their voices were heard.
 
Around 200 people, including many Wet’suwet’en members, attended a rally in Houston Wednesday, to show their support for the project and the jobs being created.

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The rally was organized by the pro-pipeline group "The North Matters"
 
Wet'suwet'en elder Russell Tiljoe told the crowd that Coastal GasLink had done a good job of consulting with First Nations, and said the project will create jobs and hope for young First Nations people, at a time when the forest industry is struggling.
 
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[Wet'suwet'en Elder Russell Tiljoe addressing pro-pipeline rally in Houston BC Feb 18, 2020 -- video capture  Ian Fife / "The North Matters" ]

"That is why I'm here today, because I know the lumber industry is starting to dwindle away slowly, and all the communities up and down the highway need something else to take the place of the lumber industry; it might not be for long but it will at least help some families with employment; that is why I'm here," he told the crowd.
 
Skin Tyee Band councillor Robert Skin said the benefits agreement his band had signed with Coastal GasLink will look after the nation's children and their children’s children.
 
Meantime, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach said the only way out of the current crisis over the Coastal GasLink pipeline project is through dialogue, not through use of force.
 
The New Democrat rose in the House of Commons Wednesday night, during an emergency debate over the blockades and protests that have sprung up in support of the Hereditary Chiefs.

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Bachrach says a succession of Liberal and Conservative governments have failed to acknowledge indigeous rights and title, and that it's time for the  Prime Minister to write a new story in Canada, by sitting down with the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs and hearing their stories. 
 
"The reality is we talk about changing our relationship with indigenous people but what we see is a reluctance to change anything about the status quo and the way that we do business, and as the blockades have shown, that's just not going to fly;  we have landed in a predicament that can't be fixed by police action; if it could have, it would have been fixed in January 2019, when the police arrested and removed 14 people from the Morice Forest Service Road, or it would have been fixed last month, when they did the same thing again," he told the Commons.
 
Bachrach acknowledged there indigeous groups in his riding who support the Coastal GasLink project and stand to benefit from it, saying he'd spoken with Haisla Chief Councillor Crystal Smith, who said the project is providing her members with educational and employment opporunities.
 
But he says opponents cannot be dismissed as fringe radicals or anarchists, adding he attended a feast at Witset, at which the Hereditary Chiefs ratified their non-consent for the pipeline, after he says they had recommended alternate routes for the pipeline which were rejected by the company.

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