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The controversial Coastal GasLink pipeline would move fracked gas from northeastern BC to the Pacific Coast.
Canadian Indigenous communities opposing a multibillion-dollar pipeline project across their ancestral territory launched Wednesday a legal challenge over the environmental damages that such a project could have on their unceded land.
Hereditary chiefs of the British Columbia (BC) First Nation (the Wet' suwet' en nation) requested the federal court to declare Canada has a constitutional obligation to meet international greenhouse gas emission targets, referring to the Paris Agreement.
About a hundred supporters demonstrated outside the Supreme Court in BC Wednesday after the legal challenge was launched.
Yet, the US$5bn Coastal GasLink project is supported by 20 elected First Nations officials along the proposed route, while five of the six elected band councils in the Wet' suwet' en nation are also backing it.
But Wet' suwet' en chiefs and land defenders say the authority of these groups does not apply to traditional territory.
Activists -in solidarity with Wet' suwet' en nation's- launched protests and blockades in several Canadian cities. They disrupted Wednesday passenger trains and goods transportation in Ontario for a sixth consecutive day.
It's heartbreaking to see land defenders & Indigenous matriarchs dragged off their land. If @JustinTrudeau wants Canadians to believe him when he says nation-to-nation relationships are the most important, he needs to come back to Canada and back up his words with action.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce called for an "immediate end" to the blockades. "Canada's supply chains are being severely damaged by the continuing interruptions," the chamber said. Meanwhile, Coastal GasLink said it would resume the pipeline's construction this week.
Speaking from Dakar, Senegal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose government supports the project, said that even if peaceful protest is fundamental to Canada's democracy, the rule of law must be respected.
"That's why I am encouraging all parties to dialogue to resolve this as quickly as possible," he said.
The controversial Coastal GasLink pipeline would move fracked gas from northeastern BC to the Pacific Coast. It would be operated by TC Energy Corp, a major North American energy company.
Members of the Wet 'suwet' en nation have been raising concerns about the project's consequences on the environment and their rights. They warned that a spill due to tanker traffic could result in severe damages to the land and water. Members of the First Nation have a camp and buildings in the area, where peacefully occupy their territory.