FILE – Members of the Gitxsan Nation resurrect their blockade of the main CN rail line in New Hazelton Feb. 24. The supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their territory dismantled a previous blockade Feb. 13. Randall Shoop photo

Work to resume on northern B.C. pipeline as B.C., feds and Wet’suwet’en reach tentative deal

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are in opposition to the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline

Coastal GasLink workers will be back to work Monday, the company announced in a Sunday press release.

In a statement, the company said work had been paused for four days while talks between the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, federal and provincial minister were underway. The talks followed weeks of rail blockades across Canada and protests at major sites, including the B.C. Legislature and other government buildings in Victoria.

The parties announced a tentative agreement on Sunday. Coastal GasLink said work will begin in the Morice River area on Monday in order to allow the company to finish work on the pipeline by their 2023 deadline.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are in opposition to the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline proposed to cross their traditional territory, although Coastal GasLink said all 20 elected band councils on the route have signed benefits agreements.

“Coastal GasLink appreciates the dialogue that has occurred over the past several days and the fact that significant progress has been made to address the concerns of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs,” the company said in a statement.

“While much has been accomplished, much work remains and we wish all parties success as their work continues and the Wet’suwet’en people consider the proposed arrangement.”

In a joint statement, the province, the feds and the hereditary chiefs said the talks covered both the recognition of Wet’suwet’en rights and title throughout their traditional territory and the issues arising out of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The parties discussed an “expedited process to implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title.” The draft agreement now needs to be approved by Wet’suwet’en members.

“If ratified, Minister Fraser and Minister Bennett have agreed to return to Wet’suwet’en territory to sign. If ratified, the parties agreed to implement title on an expedited basis, to co-ordinate how we work together,” the joint statement read.

On the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the statement noted that “all parties at the table recognize that the differences relating to the project remain.”

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en chiefs, ministers reach proposed agreement in B.C. pipeline dispute


@katslepian

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