FNLP Meeting in Moricetown Raises Tempers

Unis'tot'en remain opposed to gas pipeline

12/7/2012

Tempers flared as the Pacific Trails Pipeline was the subject of an information session held in Moricetown last night.  Unis’tot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation set up a blockade last month to stop surveyors of the project from working in the area.

The information session was explain the potential benefits of the natural gas pipeline, but before the representatives of the First Nations Limited Partnership (FNLP) could finish, they were interrupted by protest.

Members of the Unis'tot'en clan traveled from their blockade to say that no information session should be held, since they've already said no. Dini Ze Toghestiy of the Unis'tot'en Clan accused the FNLP of “attempting to disempower us as people in the decision making process."   He said the FNLP told the crowd that "15 nations signed up for the agreement; that it would be next to impossible for them to get out of the agreement; that this was going to happen whether we like it or not...  and that's not something that we are going to take.”

Moricetown Band Manager Lucy Gagnon says, “I've had a chief's name for almost fifty years, and I've never seen a war song brought into our feast hall;  you know there were wars that have happened many years ago and it was the first time that I've seen it and to have that dancer come in was a total surprise.”

Last night’s town hall meeting was solely for information purposes from the FNLP and a decision is on the proposed pipeline is not in imminent at this point. Gagnon says, “We will discuss the turn of events and see how they want to proceed with it all.   I was told we will meet with the hereditary chiefs and see in the new year where we will go with it;  if the community doesn't want us to sign on with it, then the council will listen to that.”

Office of the Wet’suwet’en Natural Resources Manager David De Wit says, “There is still work ahead of us to really capture the values and the interest and really quantify those values on the land.”

FNLP representative Al Hudec says once things settle down at last night's meeting, they were able to get their message across.  “In the end, it was very helpful when a senior matriarch stood up and gave her story on how the elders want respect at these things, and... to respect the presenter.”

15 First Nations have already signed on and the Wet'suwet'en Nation is the last one required.  If the final answer is NO, then the company would have to decide whether or not the pipeline will go though. Hudec urged members to “weigh the benefits to accepting the financial benefits package, any cost of impacts and then make their decision to participate in FNLP or go it alone.”