Members of the Gitxsan Nation have stepped up their protest of the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project, establishing a camp to block access to a portion of the pipeline route.
Hereditary chiefs Luutkudziiwus (Charlie Wright), Xsim Wits’iin (Les Moore) and Noola have declared their territory “permanently closed to all natural gas pipeline development. However, they note the cease and desist notification applies specifically to the pipeline that would bring liquefied natural gas to the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal on Lelu Island and would cross through their Madii Lii territory for 32 kilomentres.
“Our Madii Lii territory is not for sale or use by the province of BC or TransCanada, a mere third party developer that has no understanding of what they are proposing to do, has no idea of our culture, no idea of our heritage,” said Wright, noting 16 of those 32 kilometres include the traditional grease trail connecting Gitanmaax with Fort Babine at the top of the Babine Trail.
“he province has been stealing from our house territory for 150 years, and this needs to end. The proposed PRGT pipeline project is in deep conflict with core Luutkudziiwus interests and values,” added Moore.
To enforce the order, the hereditary chiefs have established a camp at kilometre 15 of the Suskwa Forest Service Road and plan to be there around the clock.
While noting questions around the blockade should be directed to the province due to it taking place on Crown land, TransCanada’s Davis Sheremata said the company has no plans to confront those at the camp.
“TransCanada is committed to the safety of its employees, contractors, First Nations and those occupying the land by avoiding confrontation with protestors. We will only move forward with our environmental assessment of the area when we are able to ensure the safety of all TransCanada staff and contractors,” he said, adding that the company has so far had a “good working relationship” with the Gitxsan.
“We will continue our efforts to engage the Hereditary Chief on the blockaded land to discuss access with him to allow our environmental and geotechnical fieldwork on their traditional territory to continue.”