Quesnel: Coastal GasLink attack an assault on the Indigenous communities who will be project owners

Eco-fundamentalists believe they are standing in solidarity with Indigenous communities, even as they attack the foundations of their livelihood   

By Joseph Quesnel
Coastal GasLink has surpassed 60 per cent overall project completion. Photo courtesy Coastal GasLink

It is truly sad that an announcement by TC Energy that will empower Indigenous communities involved in the Coastal GasLink pipeline as equity owners comes on the heels of a recent eco-terrorist attack on the project.  

The company stated that it will sell a 10 per cent equity interest in the Coastal GasLink partnership to Indigenous communities along the pipeline route.  

The assailants involved in the recent attack apparently have no problem jeopardizing the opportunity for Indigenous communities to develop partial ownership on the project.   

This should cause us to take a sobering look at what some activists with anti-oil and gas beliefs are willing to do to further their cause.  

Make no mistake, the CGL attack is an assault on the Indigenous communities who are closely involved with the project and depend on it for their well-being.  

Take Haisla Nation. The LNG Canada project that will be served by Coastal GasLink is located on Haisla Nation territory. The pipeline will also serve the proposed Cedar LNG project, which the Haisla Nation holds about 50 per cent stake in with partner Pembina Pipeline Corporation.  

In November 2021, Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith commented on how the relationships that began with the Coastal GasLink will prove “transformational” for the community over time. The benefits received go beyond just dollars and cents and will allow the community to invest in valued priorities. 

For example, the nation’s relationship with LNG Canada has provided the ability to invest in social programming, employment opportunities, a new apartment complex and a new health centre that for the first time includes space for traditional healing   

Smith expressed concerns over activist activity and called for a peaceful resolution to the dispute. Coastal GasLink was deemed lawful by the courts, as the project proponents had done their due diligence in consulting and accommodating Indigenous communities.  

Fast forward to the recent terrorist attacks. Indigenous groups were horrified by the violence some activists are engaging in to prevent construction of a project they support.  

The First Nations LNG Alliance – a collection of Indigenous communities engaged in and supportive of LNG projects – called the event ‘a calculated and organized violent attack that left its victims shaken and a multimillion-dollar path of destruction.’  

The Wet’suwet’en First Nation and the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council quickly condemned the violence at the Coastal GasLink site.  

Attacking this project is an assault on Indigenous communities, their autonomy, and the idea of Indigenous consultation that is protected by our courts and the rule of law. 

Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities along the Coastal GasLink line will now be much more worried and vigilant about their safety. This will affect the sense of safety among pipeline workers and shake the confidence of proponents and investors. This is what the eco-terrorists want.  

Communities have had to deal with what prominent Indigenous leaders have called “eco-colonialism,” where non-Indigenous urban activists interfere in local affairs in promoting an anti-energy sector agenda.  

These activists are “fair weather friends” who support Indigenous people if they oppose energy projects but disappear when communities support development.  

Eco-fundamentalists believe in a delusional manner they are standing in solidarity with Indigenous communities, even as they attack the foundations of their livelihood.   

One prominent Antifa site in Montreal featured this message about the Coastal GasLink attack: “As anarchist individuals living in the North who are supportive of struggles in defence of the land and against ongoing colonization by Canada and its corporate interests we declare our support for this action and encourage others to do so.”  

They believe they are “sticking it” to colonialism as they engage in terrorist attacks that harm Indigenous communities. 

Indigenous communities who benefit from energy projects are protected by the rule of law, and Canada’s Indigenous consultation policies are second to none in ensuring Indigenous interests are respected. These cowardly terrorist acts are an attack on Indigenous peoples and must be addressed as such.  

Joseph Quesnel is a Nova Scotia-based consultant with the Canadian Energy Centre who is Quebec Metis by heritage. 

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