Since TransCanada’s proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline project was announced in June 2012, our team has been actively consulting and engaging with Aboriginal communities whose traditional territories are on or near the proposed pipeline route. We have worked very hard to consult, engage and inform those on the land about the field work, with many Wet’suwet’en leaders and members joining us in the field, providing invaluable input. A number of efforts have been made to build relationships with those who have different views on our project, including representatives from the Unist’ot’en Camp. This has been done while still demonstrating our respect for the Hereditary Chief governance structure.
What’s happening: Our project team is doing field work with many Wet’suwet’en participants to ensure their cultural and historical resources are identified, respected and protected, and so that the project can be designed, constructed and operated safely while respecting the environment. It should be in everyone’s interests to know exactly what wildlife, habitat and cultural sensitivities are in this area. Our proposed natural gas pipeline route is approximately 1 km south from the Unist’ot’en Camp. The potential alternate reroute for our pipeline that is being considered in response to feedback from the Wet’suwet’en people is approximately 5 km north of the Unist’ot’en Camp. Both the current and potential alternate routes will not directly cross the Unist’ot’en Camp.
Why we need to do our field work: To get a better picture of the environmental conditions and cultural sensitivities surrounding the route, we must complete environmental field studies. The information we collect allows us to effectively plan and minimize environmental impacts, land disturbances and avoid culturally significant areas along and surrounding the route. Some field work can only be carried out at certain times of the year to avoid snow and the growing seasons for vegetation. These studies also facilitate input from Aboriginal communities, and we have already acted on input in many areas, specifically in the Wet’suwet’en territories to explore an alternate route to further accommodate concerns about impacts on the Morice River. To date, over a quarter of the 320,000+ hours of field work has been conducted by Aboriginal participants.
Moving forward: The Coastal GasLink team will continue to peacefully and respectfully engage with Aboriginal communities. We welcome discussions with members of the Unist’ot’en Camp. Coastal GasLink is not a choice between economics and culture for First Nations communities, and it will be constructed and operated in a manner that provides benefits and respects the environment and traditional culture. We have a deep respect for the distinct history, cultures and legal status of Aboriginal groups and their unique relationship to the land.
To learn more about the Coastal GasLink pipeline project, click here.