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

Royal Canadian circus coming back to Cloverdale

June dates for rebranded circus in year of expansion into U.S.

Mounties nab wanted man, stolen motorbike, drugs in single incident

Police pulled him over because officers recalled he was banned from driving

Fraser Valley imports, exports slowed down by Aldergrove border hours: Langley chamber

Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce lends a helping local businesses thrive in new markets

Fighting cancer by playing poker – Aldergrove daughter goes ‘all in’ for late mother

Table tickets are sold out but spectators are welcome to come for the buffet, drinks and door prizes

Girls basketball teams to vie for championship in Langley

Top teams from across B.C. arrive next week at the LEC

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, calls for end to blockades

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

Fraser Valley seniors’ home residents go without meds for a night due to staff shortage

Residents speak out about staff shortages that are leading to serious safety concerns

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

Court awards Surrey Costco shopping cart collector $583K after car pins him

Kurtis Ryan Burdeniuk, 22, was retrieving carts when driver backed into him in the parking lot, pinning him

Monster Jam set to roar back into Vancouver

Monster truck tour to stop at PNE Coliseum in March

One dead in multi-vehicle collision involving logging truck on northern B.C. highway

DriveBC says highway expected to remain closed until 8 p.m.

B.C. teacher gets 15-year ban after lying about having sex with just-graduated student

Teacher had been dishonest with the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation

Most Read