Tensions Ease at Unist'ot'en Camp -- But Chiefs Say Pipeline Battle Is Not Over

John Crawford

Tensions between police and Indigenous demonstrators at a pipeline protest south of Houston appear to have eased somewhat.
Hereditary leaders of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation reached a tentative deal with RCMP Wednesday evening, quelling some fears of escalation following Monday's arrests of 14 people on the traditional Wet'suwet'en territory at a checkpoint, operated by the Gitdimd'ten clan.
The arrests came after the Mounties removed a gate blocking access to an area where Coastal GasLink wants to build a natural gas pipeline to the planned 40-billion dollar LNG project in Kitimat.
The Hereditary chiefs now say members will abide by a court injunction granting pipeline workers access to a bridge that had been blocked, if the Mounties agree not to raid the nearby Unist'ot'en healing camp.

But they insist the tentative deal is not about Coastal GasLink Pipelines trying to gain access to their territory, but about keeping members of the nation safe.

"Why we have this agreement with the RCMP right now is a proposed one because we have to do another meeting, but we don't want a repeat of what happened before and in no way are we acquiescing to that company," said Chief Na'moks -- or John Ridsdale.

TransCanada, which is trying to build the Coastal GasLink natural-gas pipeline through the territory as part of the LNG Canada project, says it has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the pipeline route, including the Wet'suwet'en.

But those opposed say the project needs approval from the hereditary chiefs.

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