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Coastal GasLink dispute rooted in conflicts over title, governance: legal experts – The Lawyer’s Daily

by ahnationtalk on March 10, 202046 Views

March 10, 2020

The dispute over a natural gas pipeline through the traditional territory of a B.C. First Nation has garnered almost daily headlines both in Canada and abroad. But legal experts note the conflict goes far beyond any adverse environmental effects the project may have, and strikes at the very heart of long-simmering issues between Canada and Indigenous people — who actually has title over the land, and who actually speaks for First Nations.

The Coastal GasLink project would bring natural gas from B.C.’s interior to a processing plant in Kitimat, where it would be liquified and shipped for export. However, the pipeline in question crosses the traditional lands of the Wet’suwet’en people, land which has not been ceded to Canada by treaty. Proponents of the project have often pointed to the support of the 20 elected Indian Act band councils along the pipeline route as being representative of First Nations consent to the project, but a number of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have stated their opposition to it, saying it cannot proceed without their consent. This led to protests which brought train traffic to a standstill for several weeks and an agreement on title between the chiefs and the Crown, full details of which have not been made public.

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