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

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

United Way celebrates seven decades of impact in Southern Interior

Organization sees issues with poverty, mental health and addictions, heighten during the pandemic

Okanagan rental housing market facing challenges due to COVID-19

The impact on real estate markets remains a wildcard

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Morning Start: There is a Hot Pink Lake in Australia

Your morning start for Friday, Sept. 25, 2020

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Kelowna man injured during arrest sues RCMP

Supreme Court civil claim alleges Dustin Blondin was the victim of an ‘unprovoked attack’

PHOTOS: Ghost sighting in Vernon’s Polson Park

Mom and daughter photoshoot brings joy and laughter to bystanders

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Parks Canada not responsible for Mount Kobau blockade

Nearby residents have been vocal about plans to turn the area into a national park

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Most Read