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B.C. First Nation orders Trans Mountain to stop work on their land

Katzie First Nation claims work at two sites is being done without proper notice or consultation
Chief Grace George with the Katzie First Nation wants Trans Mountain Corporation to stop work on Katzie First Nation territory. (The News files)

Katzie First Nation has ordered the Trans Mountain Corporation to immediately stop all work on its territory.

The First Nation claims the oil pipeline corporation is undertaking work in two of Katzie’s unceded village sites, – one in Langley and one in Maple Ridge – “without adequate notice, consultation, or opportunity to monitor works in accordance with project conditions.”

And, this, they say, has put their lands, resources, and cultural sites at “grave risk”.

Katzie First Nation Chief Grace George said that information flows from the company to the Katzie have been “woefully inadequate” despite an understanding that they act in a forthright and open manner respecting the rights and title of the Indigenous Nation.

In a letter to federal and provincial regulators, and copied to the Trans Mountain Corporation, TMC, Katzie list three reasons for their immediate request.

They say work has started at Yorkson Creek, on the south side of the Fraser River, without adequate notification and consultation with Katzie; Katzie only received notice on Jan. 26 that the corporation leased land in Port Hammond, the former Hammond Mill site, which is intended for use as a laydown yard to support construction activities scheduled to begin sometime this month giving Katzie no time to discuss how the activities will affect their connection to the site; and barriers faced by Katzie that they say contravene Indigenous protocols and laws to, “participating in TMC’s Indigenous Monitoring Program despite multiple attempts by Katzie to resolve them.”

READ MORE: Katzie assert historic claim to former Hammond Cedar site in Maple Ridge

ALSO: Katzie First Nations suing BC Hydro, the province

Katzie have also called on federal and provincial regulators to properly consult with them and enforce project conditions respective of their rights and title. They have accused both levels of government of a lack of support in dealing with their concerns.

“Katzie has had to make considerable efforts over and above what should be necessary to obtain information about project activities that may affect Katzie rights and title,” explained Chief George.

Yorkson Creek, she said, is a permanent village site that was never ceded or surrendered by Katzie, and they were forced off the Port Hammond site by the Crown, which Chief George asserts, was then sold to settlers.

“While we have opposed the TMC pipeline from the very beginning - and continue to oppose it – we were assured that the conditions placed on the project by federal and provincial regulators would help us protect our sacred Traditional Land Use sites and cultural values,” said Chief Grace George with the Katzie First Nation. “However, these conditions have instead demonstrably failed us and are threatening all that is important to our Nation,” she added.

When contacted by Black Press, Trans Mountain would only say that they are aware of Katzie First Nation’s concerns.

“Trans Mountain has engaged extensively with all Indigenous communities along our Expansion Project corridor. We continue to engage directly with the Katzie First Nation for activities in their territory, including opportunities to participate in monitoring programs. Trans Mountain is not aware of any outstanding compliance issues,” asking that the statement be attributed to “Trans Mountain spokesperson”.

Katzie want work to stop until certain conditions are met.

They are demanding to have “reasonable” opportunity to review the details to all of he work proposed in their territory. They want to provide feedback and see the feedback incorporated into revised plans. Katzie also want regulators to commit to action to make the oil pipeline corporation compliant with their requests. Katzie monitors want to be present at all work being conducted at each site.

In addition, Katzie are demanding that Trans Mountain do not do any work on a section of the former Hammond Mill site that they say is a sacred burial ground where they have begun talks with the province about an appropriate remediation plan for the area and want their Aboriginal title recognized.

They say that any proposed TMC use of that land is inappropriate and incompatible with their unceded title and contamination remediation efforts.

Chief George noted that if the project continues without Katzie participation and engagement, they will explore all other ways to protect their traditional land use sites and their cultural values.

“We expect that our request, and the documented events that led to it, will be reviewed carefully, seriously and in an expedited and collaborative manner with us,” noted Chief George. “We expect that we will receive a response in a timely manner.”

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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