Wet’suwet’en land defenders call for construction of Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline to stop during the coronavirus pandemic

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Unist’ot’en Camp has posted, “As Canadians are being told to stay home to stop the spread of Covid-19, Coastal Gaslink continues work as usual on our territories.”

“RCMP [police] continue to be flown in from across the province to escort pipeline workers onto our unceded lands, pipelines are being stockpiled, and the pipeline right of way is being cleared on Unist’ot’en, Gidimt’en and Lihkts’amisyu territories.”

On March 30, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs urged Premier John Horgan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal and provincial health ministers to tell Coastal GasLink to stay home to slow the transmission of COVID-19.

Their letter highlights, “Corporate exceptionalism cannot become a pandemic response strategy for the governments of B.C. and Canada.”

On March 31, The Tyee reported, “Across B.C., businesses have closed, restaurants have been reduced to takeout only, schools are shut down indefinitely, employees are asked to work from home and gatherings of more than 50 people are forbidden. But construction sites and work camps are not included in the 50-person rule.”

That article adds, “RCMP officers who rotate in and out from across the province continue to patrol the area. Locals fear that the rotating shifts of RCMP officers and camp workers could bring the virus to the region.”

That same day, Torrance Coste tweeted: “’It’s important that everyone do their part and stay home.’ – Justin Trudeau about four minutes after saying giant mega-projects with hundreds of workers like Trans Mountain, LNG Canada + Site C are continuing.”

The Unist’ot’en Camp is now highlighting this concern in relation to the construction of the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory [which leads to the LNG Canada terminal], the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline on Secwepemc territory, and the Site C hydroelectric dam on Treaty 8 lands.

The petition states: “While people are warned to remain at home and take precautions due to COVID 19, the oil and gas industry is continuing work along pipeline routes, and industry is pushing forward with mega-projects across Canada.”

The key concern it highlights: “Workers on these projects are living in man camps by the hundreds in tight quarters, sharing meals and housing, and are unable to quarantine, increasing the risk posed to both communities and workers.”

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Niigaan Sinclair comments, “Even with increased safety measures, the continuation of these projects place Indigenous communities – particularly First Nations but impoverished urban Indigenous communities, too – directly and primarily at risk.”

Sinclair adds, “Canada knows that the COVID-19 pandemic will spread faster on First Nations as housing is often over-crowded, fresh water is harder to come by, and immune systems are already compromised due to poverty and a lack of health care.”

To sign the petition, please click here.

To learn more, the Unist’ot’en Camp has also posted this 2-minute video on Twitter.

Categories: News Updates

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