After a four-day pause for successful truce talks, construction was scheduled to resume Monday at a native rights sore spot on TC Energy Corp.’s Coastal GasLink (CGL) natural gas pipeline across northern British Columbia (BC).
CGL president David Pfeiffer described as “significant progress” a tentative agreement announced Sunday by Wet’suwet’en tribe leaders, federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and her BC counterpart, Scott Fraser.
Pfeiffer said the firm “appreciates that a path has been identified to address significant issues of aboriginal title and rights of the Wet’suwet’en people while recognizing that Coastal GasLink is fully permitted and remains on track for a 2023 in-service date.”
The agreement’s contents are being kept confidential while acceptance is sought from members of factions in a rights dispute between elected and hereditary chiefs that boiled over into railway blockades across Canada.
The BC truce talks began after police ended 17 days of train disruptions by enforcing court injunctions against barricades erected by supporters of a native rights crusader faction among Wet’suwet’en hereditary clan leaders. Elected tribal chiefs and councils have made cooperation and benefits agreements with CGL.
Bennett, Fraser and Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Woos indicated the tentative truce would create a process for defining shared rights on 22,000 square kilometers (8,800 square miles) of northern BC that the tribe claims as traditional territory.
CGL will supply gas to the LNG Canada liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project under construction on British Columbia’s Pacific Coast.
LNG Canada, a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell plc, Petronas, PetroChina Company Ltd, Mitsubishi Corp. and Korea Gas Corp., said Sunday that “we are encouraged to see the progress made by the federal and provincial governments and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and want to thank all parties involved for taking the time to engage in dialogue and discussion.”
The company added, “We look forward to building a project that will deliver significant benefits for Indigenous communities, British Columbians and Canadians.”