A pipeline without Indigenous consent

First conceived in 2012 [1], Coastal GasLink made international headlines in early 2020, when Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) forcibly arrested Wet’suwet’en land defenders and allies [2] at a camp along a contested logging road. The raid sparked solidarity protests and railway blockades across the country.

Map of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline route going through Wet'suwet'en traditional territory

Route of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline (Source: CBC)

Being built by TC Energy, the 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline is intended to carry fracked gas from the Montney Shale formation near Dawson Creek to Kitimat, British Columbia, where it will be converted to liquified natural gas (LNG) for export to global markets. Despite Wet’suwet’en opposition to the project, construction is occurring through the Nation’s unceded territory. It also crosses more than 206 ecologically sensitive waterways. The pipeline is built to carry 2.1 billion cubic feet per day [3] of fracked gas, with a peak capacity of up to five billion cubic feet per day.

Coastal Gaslink violates Indigenous rights

Photo of RCMP, some in military-style uniforms and automatic rifles, violently arresting Wet'suwet'en land protectors with the bold caption THIS IS NOT RECONCILIATION at the bottom of the image

In violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Coastal GasLink did not receive free, prior and informed consent for the construction of the pipeline from all of the title holders of the lands and territories that it passes through, notably the Wet’suwet’en.

In the 1997 legal case Delgamuukw v. British Columbia [4], the Canadian Supreme Court recognised that the hereditary chiefs are the title holders over the Wet'suwet'en Nation's traditional lands, and thus have the authority and jurisdiction to make decisions about their lands.

The hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation are opposed [5] to the Coastal GasLink pipeline and other pipelines [6] and have repeatedly stated this opposition to investors, the provincial and federal government and directly to Coastal Gaslink and its builder TC Energy.

Despite the Delgamuukw case, consent has only been secured by TC Energy from Indian Act band councils who, according to the Delgamuukw case, do not have authority off-reserve, over lands that hereditary chiefs have jurisdiction and through which the pipeline is getting built.

In early 2020, hereditary chiefs issued an eviction request [7] to the Coastal Gaslink. In November 2021, after Coastal Gaslink began to destroy archaeological sites and advanced construction towards the sacred Wedzin Kwa (Morice) river, the chiefs along with supporters attempted to enforce this eviction notice, occupying construction sites and erecting blockades on roads.

On November 19th , dozens of heavily militarized RCMP police arrested more than 15 community leaders and supporters [8] including two accredited journalists. Solidarity actions have begun across Canada in support of the Wet'suwet'en rights. In addition, Amnesty International has written an open letter [9] urging BC and the Federal government to respect the rights of Wet’suwet’en land defenders in response to the unjust violence RCMP has inflicted upon Indigenous communities on behalf of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project.  

 

Increasing carbon emissions at a critical juncture

Coastal GasLink contradicts both Canada’s international climate commitments and B.C. legislation intended to stem the climate crisis. At peak capacity, five billion cubic feet of LNG per day will be transported. When burned, this will produce an estimated 585.5 million pounds of C02 per day [10], which is about 13% of Canada’s total daily greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.

Investors enable this project and support its violation of Indigenous rights

Coastal Gaslink is owned by 3 entities: notorious TC Energy, the backer of the failed Keystone XL pipeline, private equity firm KKR [11] and thanks to Alberta government intervention, the Alberta Investment Management Company (AIMCO) [12] which manages the province's public pension funds.

This project would not be possible though without the backing of a consortium of 27 banks, including the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), the largest financier of fossil fuel companies in Canada.  

  • Canada: RBC, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, Scotiabank, TD, Canadian Western Bank, ATB Financial,, National Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada, Raymond James Finance Co of Canada Ltd
  • USA: JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi, and Truist. 
  • Australia: National Australia Bank 
  • China: Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)
  • Japan: Mizuho, MUFG,, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMFG)
  • Spain: CaixaBank
  • Germany: KfW IPEX Bank, Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg
  • Korea: Kookmin Bank
  • Singapore: United Overseas Bank

Owners of the LNG Canada export facility, the ultimate destination for all gas that will flow through the pipeline include:

  • Netherlands: Royal Dutch Shell
  • Malaysia: Petronas
  • China: Petrochina Company Limited
  • Japan: Mitsubishi Corp
  • Korea: Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS)
  • USA: Fluor Corp
  • Japan: JGC Corp

These financiers need to acknowledge the climate impacts and human rights violations inherent in this project. Leading banks should immediately open up dialogue with the Wet’suwet’en and commit to retract financing for the Coastal Gaslink project. 

Take Action in support of the Wet’suwet’en against Coastal Gaslink.

Now is a critical moment in the fight to stop this project and stand and act in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.
 
    •    Send a message to RBC to divest from CGL
    •    Donate to the Wet’suwet’en Land Defenders Legal Fund
    •    Come to the Gidimit’en camp and support on the ground opposition
    •    Issue a solidarity statement from your organization or group and tag @Gidimten on Twitter and email your statement to yintahaccess@gmail.com 
    •    Host or attend a solidarity rally or action in your area.
    •    Email Nathan Cullen, BC Minister of State Lands and Natural Resources. Use this letter template and contact information
    •    Follow the Gidimt’en Checkpoint on social media - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
    •     Spread the word. Share on social media. Use this toolkit to call out violence by RCMP 
 
Important Reading and Resources

Read and share media coverage of the issue:

  • The Narwhal: To understand B.C.’s push for the Coastal GasLink pipeline, think fracking, LNG Canada and the Site C dam
  • Democracy Now!: Canadian Police Raid Wet’suwet’en Pipeline Blockade, Arrest 15 Land Defenders
  • CBC News: Wet'suwet'en camp leader, journalists arrested as RCMP enforce pipeline injunction in northern B.C.
  • National Observer: Shay Lynn Sampson, the life force, and the ‘pipe filled with poison’
  • Bloomberg: Coastal GasLink pipeline is blockaded in new trouble for project