On January 7, 2019, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police trespassed on the land of the Wet’suwet’en people and arrested 14 land defenders in heavily militarized fashion, following the orders of fossil fuel behemoth TransCanada.
The militarized police were enforcing an injunction from the British Columbia Supreme Court to clear a road on which members of two clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation — the Gilseyhu (Unist’ot’en) and Gitdumden — were peacefully occupying their land. This land is unceded, as the Canadian Supreme Court recognized in the landmark 1997 Delamuukgw decision.
TransCanada was granted an interim injunction to start pre-construction on the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline, even though the company does not have the free, prior, and informed consent of the Wet’suwet’en people to build it. Five hereditary chiefs whose traditional territory is on the proposed route oppose the project.
All five hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation stand in opposition to the project. Photo credit: Kathleen Martens/APTN.
As RAN said in a statement condemning the police raid,
“This trampling on Indigenous rights in favor of private oil and gas interests and the criminalization of land defenders is not only unacceptable, it’s unlawful, and cannot take place on Indigenous unceded lands.”
The banks supporting the Coastal GasLink pipeline are contributing to this clear abuse of Indigenous rights, even though many of them have stated policies acknowledging the right to free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous communities.
Who’s banking the pipeline?
Coastal GasLink is a project of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., the same subsidiary of TransCanada behind the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The 420-mile Coastal GasLink pipeline would carry fracked gas from northeast British Columbia to LNG Canada, a massive proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal that exemplifies the sector’s climate and human rights impacts.
Coastal GasLink is estimated to cost about US$4.5 billion, so how is TransCanada funding the project? Currently, the pipeline has no project-specific finance. Instead, it is being supported by the banks that have extended general corporate loans to TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. (including two loans signed as recently as December 2018), underwritten bonds issued by the company,