B.C. Premier John Horgan says a weekend deal between Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs and the federal and provincial governments will not affect the construction of the natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia that sparked blockades and protests across Canada.

“There’s a difference of opinion around the Coastal GasLink project, but the permits are in place, it’s approved, it’s under way,” Mr. Horgan told the B.C. Legislature on Monday. “I made that clear.”

The company building the pipeline returned to Wet’suwet’en territory on Monday, as did the RCMP, raising concerns about how protesters who have blocked railway tracks, city streets and politicians’ offices in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs would react.

No details have been released about the deal to implement Indigenous rights and title in the territory through which the contested pipeline would run. After three days of talks that ended Saturday, representatives of the hereditary chiefs and the Indigenous relations ministers for Canada and British Columbia released a joint statement saying the parties had reached an arrangement to implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title, pending ratification by Wet’suwet’en clan members.

Mr. Horgan said the agreement is confined to questions of rights and title – and who holds those rights on behalf of the Wet’suwet’en.

“Where we want to be … is forward-looking. How do we find a way forward so that we let Indigenous people determine who represents them, within that context, so that investment has a clear path, so that citizens have a clear path and political parties have a clear path as well,” he added.

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Wendy Stueck, Kristy Kirkup and Justine Hunter – Globe and Mail – March 2, 2020.

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