Here is a timeline of a liquefied natural gas pipeline dispute in British Columbia, which led to rail disruptions a year ago by people showing solidarity with the hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs opposing the Coastal GasLink project:
Dec. 31, 2019: The B.C. Supreme Court grants Coastal GasLink an injunction calling for the removal of any obstructions on any roads, bridges or work sites the company has been authorized to use.
Jan. 1, 2020: The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs serve Coastal GasLink with an eviction notice, telling the company workers are trespassing on their unceded territory.
Jan. 27: The British Columbia government appoints former New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen as a provincial liaison with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in the LNG pipeline dispute.
Jan. 30: The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en agree to seven days of meetings with the province.
Feb. 5: The talks that were intended to de-escalate the dispute fail after two days.
Feb. 6: The RCMP begin enforcing the court injunction on Wet’suwet’en territory, ultimately arresting 28 people over several days. Hours later, outside of Belleville, Ont., protesters start holding up railway traffic.
Feb. 7: Via Rail halts service along one of its busiest routes because of the Belleville-area blockade. All travel between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal is cancelled.
Feb. 8: Protesters in Toronto disrupt Canadian Pacific Railway traffic moving through the downtown area. Kahnawake Mohawk community members south of Montreal erect a blockade on a CP rail line.
Feb. 12: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls for demonstrators across the country to observe the rule of law.
Feb. 13: CN shuts down its operations in Eastern Canada.
Feb. 16: Trudeau cancels a planned trip to Barbados so he can handle the protests in Canada.
Feb. 17: Trudeau convenes the Incident Response Group, an emergency committee that meets in the event of a national crisis.
Feb. 18: An emergency debate is held in the House of Commons. CN issues temporary layoff notices for 450 employees, citing the ongoing protests as the reason.
Feb. 21: Trudeau says barricades around the country must come down and the injunctions to clear the rail lines must be enforced.
Feb. 22: The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en meet with Mohawks in Kahnawake, Que., the last stop on their tour of communities in Eastern Canada where blockades have stopped passengers and goods from moving by rail.
Feb. 27: The hereditary chiefs sit down with senior federal and provincial government ministers to discuss the dispute.
March 1: Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the cabinet ministers reached a proposed arrangement, but details are not disclosed. Coastal GasLink says it will resume construction after pausing work during the talks.
April 30: Hereditary chiefs opposed to the pipeline say they will sign the agreement with the federal and provincial governments that affirms their title and rights.
May 1: Elected chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations say they will not sign the deal on rights and title, arguing the agreement was reached behind closed doors.
May 14: Government representatives and the hereditary chiefs sign the memorandum of understanding that recognizes Wet’suwet’en rights and title are held under their system of governance. It also places timelines over a 12-month period on negotiations affecting jurisdiction over land-use planning, resources, and child and family wellness, among other things.
June 17: Coastal GasLink says it is ready to launch its summer construction program in British Columbia, which includes burying the first section of pipe in the ground.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021.
The Canadian Press