Premier John Horgan, left, shares a laugh with with Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) during a smoke feast in Witset March 16 held to announce a new round of discussions on Indigenous rights and title between the Wet’suwet’en and Province of British Columbia. (Thom Barker photo)

Hereditary chiefs agree to new talks over northern B.C. pipeline

Meanwhile, the RCMP confirms additional officers in Houston will be on stand-by

The RCMP has confirmed rumours that they are mobilizing in B.C.’s Bulkley Valley for enforcement of court injunction granting pipeline operator Coastal Gaslink access to a worksite near Houston.

Spokesperson Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said the decisions to do so were made prior to the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs announcing on Thursday they have agreed to meet with the province and convene a seven-day discussion table referred to as a “Wiggus.”

The RCMP will abide by the Wiggus, which means “respect” in the Wet’suwet’en language, Shoihet said, and the additional officers will be on stand-by for the seven-day period. The force’s checkpoint at Morice West Forest Service Road will remain in place.

Rumours of the RCMP deployment began to circulate around Houston when three container units were installed outside the Community Hall. These are similar to arrangements a year ago when the Mounties enforced an earlier court injunction resulting in 14 arrests.

Premier John Horgan has said the Wiggus is a chance to work towards de-escalation.

Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser will lead the provincial team, while former New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen will be the “neutral” liaison between parties.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nations along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre route from northeastern B.C. to an export terminal in Kitimat but the hereditary clan chiefs say it has no authority without their consent.

The B.C. Supreme Court granted the company an injunction on Dec. 31. The order called for the removal of any obstructions including cabins and gates on any roads, bridges or work sites the company has been authorized to use.

It also gives authorization to the RCMP to arrest and remove anyone police have “reasonable or probable grounds” to believe has knowledge of the order and is contravening it.

Earlier Thursday, the hereditary clan chiefs and their supporters called for a public investigation into the way the RCMP are controlling access along the road.

The RCMP have said they set up a checkpoint along the Morice West Forest Service Road south of Houston to prevent the dispute from escalating after patrol officers discovered hazards along the road.

But the chiefs along with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs allege that the Mounties are unlawfully restricting access on Wet’suwet’en traditional territory.

“We cannot be criminalized for using our law to access our lands, our foods, our medicine, our way of life,” said Chief Na’moks, who dialled into a news conference in Vancouver.

The coalition has submitted a complaint to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, asking the chairperson to initiate a policy complaint and public interest investigation.

READ MORE: RCMP pipeline checkpoint ‘arbitrary and discriminatory,’ say B.C. complainants

– with files from the Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coastal GasLink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tick season begins in Hope, says local veterinary clinic

Vet clinic helping track Lyme disease across country

VIDEO: Harrison sculptor/carver shows off his work

Werner Streicek has been sculpting for 25 years in Harrison Hot Springs

B.C. GAMES: Agassiz speed skater breaks through top 10 three times

Mya Onos competed with top speed skaters in province

‘Laff’ on International Women’s Day with a lineup of female comedians in Chilliwack

All-female comedy show I Am Woman! Hear Me Laff! returns to the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

PHOTOS: Weaving wool the Salish way

Learning the tricks of the trade at the Agassiz-Harrison Museum

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Should you shave your beard to stop COVID-19? The U.S. CDC has a guide

Facial hair could be a big no-no if COVID-19 reaches pandemic status

First arrests made at BC Legislature after Wet’suwet’en supporters spray chalk on property

Legislature security arrested two people, allegedly for mischief

Canada’s 13th coronavirus case confirmed as husband of 12th patient

More than 81,000 cases of COVID-19 have occurred since the virus emerged in China

Shuswap boy wins hockey stick from NHL hero with rock, paper, scissors

Chase’s Payton Koch’s exchange with Minnesota Wild’s Kevin Fiala caught on camera

Surrey will replace its RCMP force with municipal police, province confirms

City of Surrey has been authorized to set up its own city police force

Vancouver 4/20 event to protest ‘intolerance of cannabis’ at Sunset Beach in 2020

The 2020 event is billed as a ‘protest and farmers market’

UPDATE: Son, 5, dies in hospital after crash that killed dad, older son on B.C. highway

Mike Cochlin and sons Liam and Quinn were travelling on Highway 5A

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to meet today with federal and B.C. governments

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Most Read