Texas-based Western LNG intention to proceed with PRGT pipeline raises concerns about the C-IRG on Gitxsan territory

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: On March 6, Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs called for the government to disband C-IRG. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood.

The Narwhal reports: “The Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project would connect Montney gas to Ksi Lisims, a proposed liquefaction and export facility on Nisga’a territory. Approved by the B.C. government around the same time as Coastal GasLink, the pipeline would span around 900 kilometres and cross the Kispiox and Skeena rivers and traverse Nilkitkwa Lake at the headwaters of the Babine River.”

The article continues: “TC Energy has until the end of 2024 to put enough work into the project to receive a ‘substantially started’ designation, which would secure its environmental assessment certificate indefinitely.”

It has also been noted: “The certificate expires in November.”

While PRGT has previously been described as “a zombie pipeline that hasn’t moved forward since 2014”, the announcement this week of the planned purchase by Houston, Texas-based Western LNG and the Nisga’a Nation could change that.

Yesterday, Davis Thames, chief executive of Western LNG, stated: “We want to acknowledge TC Energy’s efforts developing the project to this point. PRGT is fully engineered, permitted and ready to construct … We will move this critical project forward with renewed momentum and a fresh perspective.”

The Gitxsan want the C-IRG disbanded

The PRGT pipeline would cross Gitxsan territory.

This week, Kai Nagata of the Dogwood Institute wrote: “Leaders from both nations [Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en] rallied outside the courthouse while Dtsa’hyl’s lawyers spoke inside. They’re calling for the RCMP’s controversial injunction enforcement unit, the Community-Industry Response Group, to be disbanded.”

In his article, Nagata quotes Gordon Sebastian, the executive director of the Gitxsan Treaty Society, who says: “The C-IRG, they’re all trigger-happy people. And that authority they have is the injunction, and it’s a licence to kill. We do not want to see that here on the Gitxsan territories and the Wet’suwet’en.”

On March 9, 2023, the Terrace Standard reported: “Gitxsan hereditary chiefs issued a notice this week prohibiting the RCMP’s ‘militarized squadron’ called the Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) from Gitxsan lands centered on the Hazelton area.”

A week later, CBC reported: “The RCMP says it will not commit to respecting a Gitxsan hereditary chiefs’ decision banning the Mounties’ Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) from unceded lands in northwest B.C.”

Then in October 2023, Radio-Canada reported: “In a letter sent to the Supreme Court, the Office of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Gitxsan Nation [stated] ‘We believe that the continued use of terror by the [C-IRG] will eventually result in an accident or intentional death of an Aboriginal person, potentially a woman or a child. This is not acceptable.’”

In November 2023, the Gitxsan Huwilp Government stated: “Industry-led injunctions ordered by the BC Supreme Court Chief Justice to allow the looting of indigenous lands must stop. Further, the RCMP volunteering to deploy the [C-IRG] – which is under investigation for corruption – as a military solution to perpetrate industry greed must stop. For the RCMP to extinguish indigenous peoples’ fulsome rights on their lands, threaten our lives, terrorize our women and children, weaponize our land defense is indefensible.”

The Gitxsan have rallied in Vancouver (on October 11, 2023), Smithers (on November 21, 2023) and as noted above in Smithers (on March 6, 2024).

The PRGT and the C-IRG

Given the role C-IRG violence (now under “systemic investigation”) played in the completion of the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory, Gitxsan opposition to the C-IRG and increasingly to the PRGT pipeline, and now the new momentum to move forward with this pipeline and a November 2024 deadline for a “substantial” start to the project, we remain attentive to the concern of continued C-IRG violence.

For more, please see: PBI-Canada hosts webinar on Gitxsan and Gitanyow resistance to colonial mega-projects (March 7, 2024).

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