After armed police broke down a First Nations road barricade and arrests of protesters, a sort of truce has been reached to avoid further conflict and possible injury.
This week as the police enforced a court injunction against the Wet’suwet’en who were blocking a pipeline company from accessing the proposed route for a natural gas pipeline across the province, armed officers, a few in tactical gear with rifles, tore down the first of two barricades and arrested 14 people at the blockade.
The longstanding dispute comes after years of negotiations with First Nations along the proposed route. All groups had come to agreements with the company including the Wet’suwet’en elected council. However an internal difference in the band arose as the hereditary chiefs were against the pipeline. They said the elected council deals only with matters pertaining to the reserve area itself, while the hereditary chiefs decide on matters over the huge traditional territory.
This resulted in hereditary supporters setting up roadblocks to prevent the pipeline company access. The agreement will allow the pipeline company access to the route, but as of yet, only to survey, not to perform any construction. The agreement came after further negotiations with the Wet’suwet’en, the police, and the company.
The issue centres on access to First Nations territory in northern British Columbia which lies roughly in the middle of the almost 700 kilometre proposed route.
A natural gas pipeline will be built almost from the northeast corner of the province, out to the coast where a giant liquefied natural gas transformation plant and ship loading operation would be built as part of the overall $40 billion project.
Under the deal agreed to, police will not to enter the healing centre without permission, while Coastal GasLink workers have access to clear the road of obstructions and access the area for preliminary surveying.
Although reports are not entirely clear, it appears the large gates at the second barrier will remain in place for now.
Protests in support of the Wet’suwet’en were held in centres across the country on Tuesday, and yesterday the Prime Minister was under fire at a town hall meeting in Kamloops B.C. regarding the police action.
Further negotiations among police, the company and the Wet’suwet’en will continue today.