Ian Anderson, president and CEO of Trans Mountain, speaks during an event to mark the start of right-of-way construction for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, in Acheson, Alta., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

United Nations committee on racism calls for halt to Site C, Trans Mountain and LNG pipeline

Group points to a lack of ‘free, prior and informed consent’ from impacted Indigenous groups

A United Nations committee working to end racism is urging Canada to immediately stop the construction of three major resource projects until it obtains approval from affected First Nations.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which monitors a convention to end racial discrimination signed by countries including Canada, is calling for a suspension of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Site C dam and Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The committee, made up of 18 experts, says in a written directive last month that it is concerned by the approval and construction of the three projects without the free, prior and informed consent of impacted Indigenous groups.

It also says it’s disturbed by law enforcement’s “forced removal, disproportionate use of force, harassment and intimidation” and “escalating threat of violence” against Indigenous Peoples.

Trans Mountain Corp., the Crown corporation building the pipeline expansion, says it is approved and moving forward with construction safely and in respect of communities.

BC Hydro says it has been consulting with affected First Nations on Site C since 2007 and has reached benefit agreements with most of them.

“The Canadian courts have reviewed our consultation with certain First Nations and found it to be adequate and to have appropriately accommodated their interests,” it says in a statement.

“To date, more than $230 million in Site C procurement opportunities has been committed to Indigenous companies. In addition, we have around 400 Indigenous Peoples currently working on the project.”

The Canadian government, Coastal GasLink and RCMP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The UN committee has previously demanded a halt to Site C, which is opposed by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations in northeast B.C. However, this marks the first time it has called for a stop to the Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink projects.

The right to “free, prior and informed consent” to resource projects is part of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada has adopted but not incorporated into law.

The B.C. government has committed to adapt its laws to meet the aims of the UN resolution but has not yet begun amending legislation.

The UN committee recommends Canada establish a legal and institutional framework to ensure adequate consultation to obtain free, prior and informed consent, and freeze present and future approval of large-scale development projects that don’t meet that level of consent.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en have attempted to block construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline near Smithers. The natural gas pipeline is part of the massive $40-billion LNG Canada project.

On Saturday, hereditary chiefs with the First Nation issued a letter advising the company that it was “trespassing” on unceded territory and demanding that it vacate the premises.

The company has said only security staff were present on the weekend and they complied with the eviction notice, but it plans to resume construction this week after a holiday break.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Clearwater Elks taking a hit because of COVID-19

President Marnie Burnell noted the group was already hurting before the pandemic came into effect

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

YCS receives support from Interior Savings’ relief fund

Money will go toward food programs and new technology to improve operations

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read