Get First Nations approval on BC projects, says UN committee

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A United Nations committee dedicated to elimination of racial discrimination urged Canada to stop construction of three major resource projects in British Columbia until it obtains approval from affected First Nations.

In a written directive, the committee of 18 experts said it is concerned by the approval and construction of the three projects without the free, prior and informed consent of impacted Indigenous groups. It is calling for a suspension of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Site C dam and Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The committee said it’s disturbed by law enforcement’s “forced removal, disproportionate use of force, harassment and intimidation” and “escalating threat of violence” against Indigenous people.

Trans Mountain Corp., the Crown corporation building the pipeline expansion, said it is approved and moving forward with construction safely and in respect of communities.

BC Hydro said it has been consulting with affected First Nations on Site C since 2007 and has reached benefit agreements with most of them.

The Canadian government, Coastal GasLink and RCMP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The UN committee has previously demanded a halt to Site C, which is opposed by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations in northeast British Columbia. However, this marks the first time it has called for a stop to the Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink projects.

It recommends Canada establish a legal and institutional framework to ensure adequate consultation to obtain free, prior and informed consent, and freeze present and future approval of large-scale development projects that don’t meet that level of consent. -CINEWS

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