The Penticton Indian Band staged a protest downtown Monday morning in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who have opposed the Coastal Gaslink project.
Elected PIB chief Chad Eneas and hereditary chief Adam Eneas led the protest, criticizing the provincial government for what they call “divide and conquer tactics.”
Chad Eneas said he felt is was important to stand in solidarity with “what they are trying to realize up there.”
“That is to re-institute and reconcile how things are being done within their traditional territory,” he added.
Coastal GasLink is building a pipeline along a 670-kilometre route from Northeastern B.C. to LNG Canada’s export terminal in Kitimat.
The company says it signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the route, including the Wet’suwet’en, but hereditary chiefs say they never gave consent for the project to go ahead.
The Wet’suwet’en system of governance gives the elected chief and council authority over reserve lands while the hereditary leadership governs traditional territory, which is where the pipeline will run.
“The message is that we don’t want there to be violence, we don't want those people to suffer any harm, because they are just trying to exercise their right” Chief Chad Eneas said.
On Monday, the BC Government appointed former NDP MP Nathan Cullen as a provincial liaison in an effort to de-escalate the situation surrounding a court-ordered injunction for the company's access to a forest service road outside of Houston, B.C.
The B.C. Supreme Court granted Coastal GasLink the injunction on Dec. 31. This was followed by an eviction notice from the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs requesting all CGL workers leave the territory.