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Pipeline construction, RCMP patrols paused ahead of ministers meeting with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs

Last Updated Feb 27, 2020 at 2:50 pm PST

FILE - RCMP move in to make arrests, enforcing an injunction order on Morice West Forest Service Road on Jan. 7, 2019. (Source: facebook.com/wetsuwetenstrong)

Coastal GasLink agrees to cease all work

Police to stop all patrols on the Morice Forest Service Road

Hereditary chiefs meeting today, tomorrow with federal, provincial ministers

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Coastal GasLink has agreed to pause construction of its natural gas pipeline ahead of federal and provincial ministers meeting with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs Thursday afternoon and Friday.

RCMP have also agreed to stop all patrols on the Morice Forest Service Road, according to a release from the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

Chief Na’Moks, who is also known as John Ridsdale, said in the release that the hereditary chiefs invited Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan to meet on their territory, but both declined.

The chiefs then agreed to meet with Federal Minster of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett and B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser on Thursday and Friday in Smithers.

“The hereditary chiefs have agreed to this meeting due to the agreement by the RCMP to stop all patrols on the Morice Forest Service Road, the closing of the CISO outpost and that Coastal GasLink cease all work and security patrols on the Upper Morice as demonstration of good faith to create breathing room for these upcoming conversation,” said Na’Moks, one of five hereditary chiefs opposed to construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline across Wet’suwet’en traditional territories.

The chiefs have committed to keep the road free of obstructions for the passage of Wet’suwet’en people and their guests without interference, says the release.

“We believe these conditions provide the space we need to be able to sit down at the table in good faith and a positive path forward. We hope the RCMP and CGL see the wisdom in that and help create the conditions for positive and respectful discussions,” Na’Moks said.

“We are so close and have called on the provincial and federal governments to support this deescalation of activities so that this issue can be resolved.”

Nationwide, rail and road blockades in support for the hereditary chiefs have caused disruptions across Canada.

Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Thursday the ongoing rail blockades are not being consider acts of terrorism, a day after some protesters in Tyendinaga who stood in front of and lit fires under a moving freight train.

“I have not been advised by any law enforcement official that they have made that determination. So, to this point, this answer is no. But the investigation is conducted by the police. The determination is under their discretion.”

The federal government said RCMP have left the controversial Coastal GasLink construction site on Wet’suwet’en territory.

-with files from Ash Kelly.