VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A Wet’suwet’en hereditary house chief is the first, and so far only, one among nine in the First Nation to back the Coastal GasLink pipeline project in northern B.C.
Herb Naziel tells the Globe and Mail he has declared his support for the $6.6 billion project because he feels it will raise the standard of living for Indigenous people along the natural gas line’s route.
The hereditary leader had previously taken a neutral stance, afraid of deepening divisions in his community.
Coastal GasLink has received approval from elected First Nation councils along the route, including five among the Wet’suwet’en, but opposition from hereditary chiefs has sparked protests and blockades in solidarity right across the country, targeting rail lines and ports.
Naziel says he is not afraid to have his hereditary title stripped. The paper reports he works as a heavy-equipment operator for a company with a large construction contract with Coastal GasLink.
The 670-kilometre pipeline would transport natural gas from northeastern B.C. to a terminal in Kitimat, and is due to start exporting LNG to Asia within five years.
A tentative agreement between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and both provincial and federal governments was reached more than a week ago after days of negotiations in an effort to end ongoing demonstrations, but details of the draft accord have yet to be released. All that’s been shared is that the proposed agreement focuses on Wet’suwet’en rights and land title.
B.C.’s premier has already said the project will go ahead.