Hereditary chief Kloum Khun (Alphonse Gagnon) speaks with supporters at the blockade on the afternoon of Feb. 12. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Hereditary chief Kloum Khun (Alphonse Gagnon) speaks with supporters at the blockade on the afternoon of Feb. 12. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

CN blockade taken down as federal, provincial representatives agree to meet with hereditary chiefs

CN blockade taken down as federal, provincial representatives agree to meet with hereditary chiefs

A blockade set up where the CN rail line intersects with Highway 16 at New Hazelton has been taken down.

Chief Spookwx (Norman Stephens) of the Gitxsan nation said following letters he received from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan members of the Gitxsan nation and supporters took down the blockade on Thursday evening.

READ MORE: CN Rail to shut down tracks in northern B.C. if pipeline blockade continues

When The Interior News stopped by the camp on Feb. 12 Spookwx said while the decision to set up camp on the tracks was not made lightly.

He added that the railroad is on Spookwx territory of the Gitxsan nation and that recent events gave them little choice but to assert their authority over the land.

“We decided that enough is enough,” he said of the blockade which began on Feb. 8. “We put [it] up … and naturally we got an injunction against us for trespass on our own lands, which is a little much to take.”

Spookwx also expressed cynicism towards the concept of seeking consent from the appropriate decision makers in terms of land development.

“Free prior informed consent works only if you say yes,” he said. “If you say no then it’s injunction time and enforcement time.”

The railway company previously told The Interior News it has obtained court injunctions to remove both blockades and are working with RCMP to enforce the orders.

The blockade is one of dozens across the country which has had a significant impact on CN rail service across Canada.

In a news release Tuesday, CN president JJ Ruest said that hundreds of its freight trains had been cancelled and that the Port of Prince Rupert was “effectively already shut down.”

As for Spookwx, he feels it’s becoming more and more likely the best option for Indigenous people is one which utilizes the courts.

“Hopefully we get back to where we can sit down and plan for how we’re going to finish Delgamuukw because that would appear to be the only option for us now,” he said.

“Canada is still not listening, the Province here is certainly not going to listen.”

In a letter addressed to Spookwx Justin Trudeau said maintaining a strong relationship with Indigenous people is of the utmost importance to his Government.

“In this spirit, I can confirm our government’s participation at a joint meeting with Gitxsan Simgyget and Wet’suwet’en Dini Ze’ and Ts’ake ze to engage in dialogue on how the current impasse over pipeline development arose, to discuss the current situation and to seek a process that avoids such situations in the future.”

The Interior News has learned that the Province will be sending federal Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett to the meeting.

Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser will be in attendance for the Province.

In an emailed statement Fraser said that he feels dialogue is the best way through the situation and that the Province welcomes the opportunity to sit down and hear the concerns of both parties.

“We are very pleased that after our letter was sent, the CN Rail blockade near New Hazelton was dismantled as a gesture of good faith,” said Fraser. “I know that we all ultimately want a peaceful resolution.”

A date for the meeting has not been set yet, and Spookwx has said if negotiations are unsuccessful it’s possible the blockade will go back up.

In an email to The Interior News Dawn Roberts with BC RCMP Communications confirmed the blockade had been taken down. She said the action was a result of discussions between all parties.

“Significant efforts took place to keep the lines of dialogue open between the Hereditary Chiefs, Elected Chiefs, the provincial and federal governments,” she said. “Ultimately a resolution was reached that saw the blockade peacefully end and all obstructions removed on Feb. 13 without the need for enforcement.”

The RCMP say they are hopeful the positive outcome can lead to further peaceful resolutions.

“That is exactly what happened here and we will continue this approach moving forward.”



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coastal GasLink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC CDC mapping for the week ending April 4, shows a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases to 27 in Prince Rupert down 45 from the week prior. (Image: BCCDC)
Sharp decline in Prince Rupert COVID-19 cases

Prince Rupert lab-confirmed cases are down 62.5 per cent in one week

Blair Mirau, Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society CEO, is seen in a hydroponic greenhouse the society purchased in 2020 to promote food stability and local supply. (Photo: supplied)
Three P.R. organizations partner to develop food distribution network

$167,000 grant awarded to GSN, PRDCC and Ecotrust Canada to strengthen food supply chains

Food security and local production were topics at the April 12 public hearing to discuss new zoning bylaws and new OCP bylaws in Prince Rupert. A shipping container-style hydroponic growing unit in Whitehorse on July 26, 2020 is similar to one purchased by the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society for local food production. (Photo: Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Food security and local production were growing concerns at city held public hearing

No provision in new zoning bylaws and new OCP for urban agriculture zones in Prince Rupert

Members of Prince Rupert Rotary Club gave back to their community on April 15 by providing a facelift to the city's gateway at McClymont Park. (Photo: K-J Millar)
Acts of Kindness Day being honoured in Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert Rotary Club is encouraging acts of kindness all week long

A ball balances on the rim. New basketball court surfaces and nets will be installed as part of the McBride Street Multi-sport Court Redevelopment project to which Pembina donated $20,000. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Nothing but net for $20,000 Pembina donation

McBride Street multi-sport court redevelopment project in the planning

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused, Horgan says

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read