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B.C. pipeline protesters ordered to end treaty office blockade

Gitxsan Hereditary Chief Elmer Derrick signs historic equity agreement with Janet Holder, Executive Vice President of Western Access for Enbridge.

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Enbridge pipeline protesters who have been blockading a treaty office in Hazelton said Thursday they have received a court document informing them that they are trespassing and directing them to leave the site.

"It's telling us that we're trespassing and we can't be here," Norman Stephens, a Gitxsan hereditary chief, said Thursday in a telephone interview.

Under the Dec. 7 court order from the Supreme Court of B.C., Mr. Stephens and other defendants are restrained from trespassing on the site and from preventing access to the building. The order was sought by the Gitxsan Treaty Society.

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Mr. Stephens is part of a group that have blocked access to the Gitxsan Treaty Society office since Monday to protest an agreement between the Gitxsan nation and Enbridge that would give the Gitxsan a stake in the Northern Gateway project.

The protesters say that agreement, announced Dec. 2 by Gitxsan hereditary chief Elmer Derrick in Vancouver, was reached without community consent and came as a surprise. They've called for the resignations of those involved in negotiating the deal.

Gordon Sebastian, a negotiator with the Gitxsan Treaty Society, said in an interview this week that the December 2 agreement furthers a 2009 accord signed in Prince George that was approved by Gitxsan hereditary chiefs and disputed the group's claim that the agreement came as a surprise.

Enbridge, for its part, has said Mr. Derrick represents the consensus view of a majority of the Gitxsan's traditional leadership and "is recognized as an authoritative voice of his people."

Enbridge has agreed to make a 10-per-cent equity stake of the $5.5-billion twin-pipeline project available to eligible native communities in B.C. and Alberta.

To date, dozens of native bands have spoken publicly against the project but Enbridge has said that native opposition is far from unanimous.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

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