Letter: Proposed Gas Pipelines will not be Allowed to be Constructed on Unceded Wet’suwet’en Territories
“We will stop them at our traditional boundary lines and prevent them from proceeding with plans on our territories”
This is in response to Gordon Hamilton’s article in the Vancouver Sun, which was published on May 15, 2012. We feel it is important to let you know that the proposed Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP) project will not be allowed to be constructed on unceded Wet’suwet’en territories. We will stop them at our traditional boundary lines and prevent them from proceeding with plans on our territories.
These are our reasons:
1. PTP and the governments of Canada and British Columbia have chosen to ignore hereditary rights and title. They instead choose to negotiate agreements with “Indian Act” Tribal Councils and Bands who do not have jurisdiction outside of the Federal Indian Reservations they were forced to govern at the beginning of the 20th century. The governments and pipeline company continue to do this despite a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 1997 called, “Delgamuukw v. Queen”, which clearly states that the Wet’suwet’en have exclusive title and rights to our unceded hereditary lands.
2. The proposed PTP right of way is in the exact locale as the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway right of way. We have said since the beginning of the proposed energy corridor talks that we will not allow pipeline projects through our lands. For us PTP is viewed as a trailblazer for the other proposed Oil Pipelines such as the Northern Gateway, Pembina, and Northern Kinder Morgan proposed projects.
3. The fracking process that is used to extract the Natural Gas is outlawed in Germany and France because of its severely destructive impacts to the environment and human populations which live near or downstream from the well sites. We cannot, in good conscience, enable a project that compounds the deadly problems that are faced with our sisters and brothers in Fort Chipewyan which is downstream of the Peace River where hydraulic fracturing is taking place. Our friends in Forth Chipewyan are already dealing with the deadly toxins that are introduced to their aquifers from the Tar Sands extraction process on the Athabasca River.
4. The proposed pipeline right of ways are planned to be constructed in extremely sensative salmon spawning habitat belonging to the Wet’suwet’en. Approximately 36 km of the proposed pipeline is planned to be constructed along the Morice River which produces a large majority of salmon that our people have depended on for thousands of years; and another 27 km of pipeline threaten the Gosnell Creek spawning area which is a major spawning tributary off of the Morice River; and finally another 8 kilometers of proposed pipelines are targeting the Burnie and Clore Rivers which are upper spawning grounds for the Lower Skeena River watershed.
5. Our people continue to use key sites that are along the proposed pipeline corridor. We have annual cultural and action camps along proposed corridor; we hunt and trap in many intact areas along the proposed corridor; and we have expedition camps that take us and the youth of our nation to remote and key winter hunting and trapping along the proposed corridor. This place is occupied by our people and will continue to be occupied by our people.
The Likhts’amisyu and Unist’ot’en Clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation have blockaded the PTP drilling crews on November 7, 2011, from conducting drilling processes on our river and stream crossings. They left without question and apologized when they were approached by our people on our lands and told to leave. We’ve attended a PTP contractors meeting that was hosted by the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) in Prince George on January 19, 2012, and let the PTP company, the Tribal Council, and the contractors know that we will be stopping them from attempting to push an industrial agenda through our unceded and occupied lands. The governments, CSTC, and PTP have
ignored our assertion and are assuming that they can continue ignoring our rights and title, which were upheld in the Delgamuukw court case. We will prove to them that they were wrong in doing so and stop PTP from entering our lands.
Hereditary Chief Toghestiy of the Likhts’amisyu Clan
P.S. The Office of the Wet’suwet’en does not represent us our our position. In 2008 we have pulled away from their Boardroom table and have taken it upon ourselves to protect the integrity of our lands and waterways. They have failed to protect our lands since their inception as a society. We are confident that we can assert our juridiction on our lands on our own just as our unborn generations and our ancestors have expected us to.