Costa Rican Indigenous land rights activist assassinated by gunmen

Sergio Rojas indigenous land activist is pictured during a interview in Salitre, Buenos Aires de Puntarenas, Costa Rica, October 2, 2015. Courtesy of La Nacion via REUTERS

A well-known Costa Rican indigenous land rights activist was gunned down on Monday night.

Sergio Rojas was at his home in the indigenous territory of Salitre, about 200 km (124 miles) south of the capital, San Jose, when the attack happened late on Monday, the office of President Carlos Alvarado said, calling the killing “regrettable.”

According to a press release, Rojas was assassinated by armed gunmen who shot him as many as 15 times at around 9:15 pm in his home in Yeri. It appears the armed assailant entered the back of Sergio’s home. Neighbors called 911. Over an hour later police arrived. Eventually members of the Red Cross entered and confirmed that he died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The Tico Times reports, an investigation into the murder has been initiated, led by the country’s Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) in collaboration with National Police. 

Alvarado said he has asked the Public Security Ministry (MSP) to provide all necessary support to OIJ to aid the investigation.

MSP officers maintain a presence at the location of Sergio Rojas’s apparent murder. (Via Casa Presidencial. )

Rojas was President of the Association for the Development of the Indigenous Territory of Salitre and coordinator of the National Front of Indigenous Peoples (FRENAP) in Costa Rica and was a staunch defender of the Bribri of Saltire Indigenous people who have been fighting for years to regain their rights to over 12,000 hectares of land in southern Costa Rica pledged to them by a 1938 government agreement, according to a 2014 teleSUR report.

In 2012, Rojas was shot at six times in an apparent assassination attempt near the reserve but escaped the shooting unscathed.

Reuters reports, in 2015, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the government to provide Bribri and Teribe people with protection, arguing they were at risk because of actions taken to recover their lands.

Costa Rica has 24 indigenous territories inhabited by eight ethnic groups, with occupation and encroachment on their land by ranchers causing conflict since the 1960s.

Farmers, angered in a land dispute, burned down the home of an indigenous family in Salitre, a Bribrí indigenous reserve in south-central Costa Rica, July 5, 2014. (The Tico Times)

“He [Rojas] made a lot of enemies over the years,” said Sonia Suárez, a schoolteacher in Salitre.

In a statement, Costa Rica’s ombudsman said Rojas had requested further police protection on Friday after he and other members of his organization said they were shot at in connection with their “recovery” of a farm on Bribri land.

The Central American country has for years struggled to mediate land-right disputes between indigenous and non-indigenous people.

Costa Rica’s 1977 Indigenous Law prohibits the sale of indigenous lands, but is not clear on what to do in cases where land within reserves was already farmed by outsiders.

Family searches for man missing on island in traditional healing journey

Travis Damon Thomas is shown in a handout photo. Occasionally, the 41-year-old who is listed as a missing person by the RCMP has been spotted. (Alfred Dick-Facebook/The Canadian Press)

Family and friends believe Thomas was dealing with deeper mental illness than they were aware of

The evidence of Travis Damon Thomas’s survival is scarce but his uncle says it’s scattered around a remote island off the coast of Vancouver Island: a circle of footprints, the remains of a sea urchin, a burned log.

Occasionally, the 41-year-old who is listed as a missing person by the RCMP has been spotted.

Thomas was sent to Bartlett Island near Tofino in July as part of an Indigenous tradition to help him heal from addiction and other ailments, said Alfred Dick, his uncle.

But the traditional method of the Ahousaht First Nation didn’t go as planned, Dick said, when Thomas didn’t return home after two weeks.

“Something just went awry on this one,” Dick said.

Seven months later, friends and family visit the island daily to leave food and other supplies for Thomas and try to coax him home.

“When we start a healing journey within our nation — if you’re having troubles, maybe addiction or something of that sort — we usually bring them to an island or isolated area where they can be by themselves and find themselves for roughly about two weeks before we let anyone join them and start helping and counselling them,” Dick said from the island as he dropped off supplies.

“He got put on the island and when they come to check on him he wasn’t around. All the signs were here that he was here, but he was nowhere to be seen, he went into the bush.”

Difficult search

Family and friends now believe Thomas was dealing with deeper mental illness than they were aware of. He had also faced several devastating challenges in recent years including the death of his wife, Dick said.

The island, which is only about 1.5 kilometres long and 700 metres wide, has regularly been used as a site for traditional healing but members of the First Nation usually stick to the beaches instead of the dense inland forest.

The RCMP say Thomas was last seen on the island on Aug. 7. When he couldn’t be found, his family conducted its own search.

The evidence of Thomas’s survival is scarce but his uncle says it’s scattered around a remote island off the coast of Vancouver Island: a circle of footprints, the remains of a sea urchin, a burned log. (Alfred Dick-Facebook/The Canadian Press)

Dick said five days was the longest stretch of time that passed without any evidence of Thomas.

RCMP ground and air patrols, local search and rescue teams, and the Canadian Coast Guard have conducted an extensive but unsuccessful search. On Oct. 18, more than 200 ground search volunteers and 20 vessels combed the island and surrounding waters, the RCMP say.

“Our search is unfortunately very difficult given the island’s extremely dense forest and brush area,” Sgt. Todd Pebernat says in the statement issued in November, which the Mounties say still stands when they were asked for an interview earlier this month.

Mental state unknown

The missing person file remains open and while the formal search has been suspended, local efforts continue.

The Mounties say they have no information to suggest Thomas had left the island but “are alive to the possibility that he may no longer be there.”

“The desire to find Mr. Thomas remains within all of us. To this end, the RCMP has maintained its presence of trail cameras on the island and examines any new reports of possible sightings or compelling leads,” the statement says.

Elder Dave Frank, who is a cultural support worker with Ahousaht’s wellness department, said he believes Thomas just needs more time.

“Without seeing him or talking to him, I don’t know what his mental state is right now. On a physical state, he’s doing OK,” Frank said.

When an individual is sent to the island, it’s a decision made by the family, he said. But the department provides support, including sending a counsellor to the island for one-on-one time with the individual, he said.

“Where I come from, we live in the best of two worlds. We live in a Western society with Western expertise and medical and all those things, and we also live in a world of the old ways too,” he said.

‘It changes you’

Providing an individual with supplies is also newer practice, he said, because in the past a person would only be left with tools and medicine.

The department leaves it up to the family to decide when a loved one is ready to return home.

There have been cases when a family has pulled the individual back early because he or she appears to be suffering instead of healing, he said, and there are cases where someone hasn’t returned home for one or two years.

There have been more successful cases than failed ones, he said.

“When you get out there, it changes you, you’re forced to look within yourself,” he said. “They begin to take a look at themselves and move forward.”

About half a dozen family and friends visit the island every day and Thomas’s Facebook page express love and affection for him.

“We’re just praying and hoping that he comes to us soon,” Dick said.

Amy Smart · The Canadian Press · Posted: Mar 17, 2019 by CBC News

[SOURCE]

2000-year-old artifact redefining age of tattooing in western North America

2,000 year old tattoo needle made of cactus spines discovered in Utah

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest Native tattooing artifact in western North America.

The artifact came from the very important Basket-maker II culture and is estimated to be 2000-years-old.

The tattoo tool made by the Ancestral Pueblo people, consists of a 3 ½ inch wooden skunkbush sumac handle bound at the end with split yucca leaves and holding two parallel cactus spines, stained with dark pigment at their tips.

A chemical analysis of the pigment on the tips found a residue of carbon which is often used in ancient tattooing ink.

Tattooing instrument recovered from site in the Bears Ears region. (WSU)

The artifact is about the size of a pen.

It had been sitting in storage for more than 40 years.

According to online sources, Andrew Gillreath-Brown, an anthropology Ph.D. candidate, was cataloging artifacts that were recovered from an archaeological site in the south of Utah in the Bears Ears region. These items had been unearthed in 1972 and deposited in Washington State University but not properly examined.

He is the lead author of a paper on the tattoo tool which was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

This is a close up of cactus spine tattoo tool discovered by WSU archaeologist Andrew Gillreath-Brown. Credit: Bob Hubner/WSU

The find is important because they are the “oldest tattoo artifacts in western North America” reports KEPR.tv.com.

Carbon dating shows it’s from between AD 79 and 130.

Before this tool was discovered, the oldest tattooing needle found in western North America was an artifact from Aztec Ruins in New Mexico that dates to between 1100 and 1280 A.D.

Whereas most modern tattoos are drawn with motorized machines that puncture the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute, the Utah relic uses more of a stick-and-poke technique.

“You would’ve held it like you would have a pen and done a series of hand poking,” Gillreath-Brown said.

When European colonialists and missionaries invaded indigenous lands in North American and beyond, they often forbade the practice of tattooing among native peoples. In many places around the world, traditional tattooing all but died out.

Researchers asked tribal elders if their ancestors had practiced tattooing. Many, including from the Zuni, Acoma and Laguna Pueblos, said yes.

Tattooing had a cultural significance and was embraced by indigenous people. However, little is known about when or why the practice began.

Train Derailment near St-Lazare, Spilled One Million Litres of Crude Oil

The Canadian National train with 110 petroleum crude oil cars derailed when an emergency brake was applied, rupturing 16 cars.

37 tanker cars carrying crude oil derailed near St-Lazare

Investigators say at least one million litres of crude oil was spilled when a train derailed last month in western Manitoba.

According to Global News, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) says the spill was mostly contained in a low-lying area next to the track, and it’s too early to comment on the environmental impact.

On Feb. 16, 110 tanker cars loaded with petroleum crude oil, was travelling east at about 49 mph when it experienced a train-initiated emergency brake application.

37 cars derailed at 3:30 a.m. by the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border near St. Lazare.

The TSB says 16 of the cars sustained breaches.

The agency says the investigation is ongoing and some track components and wheel sets are being examined for failure analysis.

CN said the leak did not penetrate the Assiniboine River.

There were no reports of injuries or fires.

CN resumed operations on the mainline the following day of the derailment.

The aftermath of an oil spill in St. Lazare, Man., captured by a drone.

The wreck happened on the same day as a pro-pipeline rally just 50 km away in Moosomin, Sask.

Supporters of pipelines argue that shipping oil by pipeline is safer than by rail.

47 people died in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6th 2013, when an unattended 74-car freight train carrying crude oil derailed in the downtown setting off a massive explosion and fire.

By RPM, Staff, Updated March 2, 2019.

United We Roll convoy meets counter-protesters as it leaves Winnipeg

Protesters wave flags and shout at passing trucks as the United We Roll protest leaves Winnipeg early on Friday evening. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Protest truck convoy passes through Manitoba en route to Ottawa

A convoy of at least 70 trucks protesting Ottawa’s oil and gas policies passed through Manitoba on Friday on its way to Parliament Hill, hoping to pick up steam among local drivers.

“We want the current government to realize that they have a huge disconnect with a lot of issues, and the biggest is our oil and gas industry needs to get back in order — and our farmers,” said organizer Glen Carritt Friday morning.

“Everybody’s hurting because the carbon tax is way too much.”

Carritt was driving one of roughly 170 trucks that left Red Deer, Alta., early Thursday morning with a destination of Ottawa as part of the United We Roll protest.

A convoy of trucks left Red Deer on Thursday, bound for Ottawa to demand the federal government do more to help the oil and gas industry in Western Canada. (Tiphanie Roquette/Radio Canada)

He said drivers want to show their opposition to the federal carbon tax and Bill C-69, federal legislation that would change the way energy projects are reviewed, as well as other policies they say are hurting the economy.

On Friday morning, Carritt said the convoy had slimmed down to a core group of about 70 trucks. He was hoping to pick up at least 30 more in Manitoba and Ontario on the way to Parliament Hill for a final rally.

Some of the participants are supporters of the yellow vest protest movement, Carritt said. But he has said the racist and radical views espoused by some yellow vest supporters aren’t part of his protest.

Cleared Deacon’s Corner after 6 p.m.

“We just want our voices heard,” he said. “There’s an election coming up and we want people to realize how important the oil and gas industry is for the rest of Canada.”

The convoy was slowed down briefly early Friday evening as it left Winnipeg, when protesters gathered at Deacon’s Corner to express their opposition to the movement.

“We’re against the message they’re bringing,” said Harrison Friesen, one of about 10 people who stood at the side of the highway, waving flags and shouting at the trucks as they passed.

“For us, we’re against pipelines, we’re Indigenous land defenders. I’m from northern Alberta — I have concerns about what happens with the tar sands, what happens with the community.”

Protesters wait for the convoy to pass Deacon’s Corner on its way out of Winnipeg early Friday evening. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

The RCMP closed down one lane of Highway 1 eastbound just after 5:30 p.m. to give protesters a place to safely stand, warning them not to interfere with traffic in the other lane. Although this slowed the convoy’s progress, the line of vehicles had all cleared the intersection shortly after 6 p.m.

“These people that are out on the road here … they’ don’t like the fact that we’ve got a convoy that wants to promote the pipeline and promote oil,” said United We Roll supporter Les Michaelson, who drove ahead to scout any potential problems the vehicles might encounter.

“We want to put people back to work and doing otherwise is actually going backwards.”

Carritt described the convoy as a grassroots movement of drivers who want to stand up for Canada.

The protest has received support from an online GoFundMe fundraiser, he said, which he’s hoping will continue to take a bite out of the fuel cost of the journey.

For the big-rig trucks, that could be as high as $6,000, Carritt said.

Whether it’s drivers on the road or protesters at Parliament, Carritt said he hopes to see more people out supporting his cause.

“Everybody is welcome as long as they’re peaceful.”

Originally posted by CBC News · Posted: Feb 15, 2019

[SOURCE]

European Contact Killed So Many Indigenous Americans It Changed The Climate, Says Study

Columbus’ first set foot in the Americas in 1492.  

More than 50 million indigenous people perished after Columbus’s arrival

Prior to Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas in 1492, the area boasted thriving indigenous populations totalling to more than 60 million people.

A little over a century later, that number had dropped close to 6 million.

European contact brought with it not only war and famine, but also diseases like smallpox that decimated local populations.

Now, a new study published in the journal Quarternary Science Reviews argues that those deaths occurred on such a large scale that they led to a “Little Ice Age”: an era of global cooling between the 16th and mid-19th century.

Researchers from University College London found that, after the rapid population decline, large swaths of vegetation and farmland were abandoned.

The trees and flora that repopulated that unmanaged farmland started absorbing more carbon dioxide and keeping it locked in the soil, removing so much greenhouse gas from the atmosphere that the planet’s average temperature dropped by 0.15 degrees Celsius.

Typically, experts look to the Industrial Revolution as the genesis of human-driven climate impacts. But this study shows that effects may have began some 250 years earlier.

“Humans altered the climate already before the burning of fossil fuels had started,” the study’s lead author, Alexander Koch, told Business Insider. “Fossil fuel burning then turned up the dial.”

More than 50 million indigenous people perished by 1600

Experts have long struggled to quantify the extent of the slaughter of indigenous American peoples in North, Central, and South America. That’s mostly because no census data or records of population size exist to help pinpoint how many people were living in these areas prior to 1492.

To approximate population numbers, researchers often rely on a combination of European eyewitness accounts and records of “encomienda” tribute payments set up during colonial rule.

But neither metric is accurate – the former tends to overestimate population sizes, since early colonizers wanted to advertise riches of newly discovered lands to European financial backers.

The latter reflects a payment system that was put in place after many disease epidemics had already run their course, the authors of the new study noted.

So the new study offers a different method: the researchers divided up North and South America into 119 regions and combed through all published estimates of pre-Columbian populations in each one.

In doing so, authors calculated that about 60.5 million people lived in the Americas prior to European contact.

Once Koch and his colleagues collated the before-and-after numbers, the conclusion was stark. Between 1492 and 1600, 90 percent of the indigenous populations in the Americas had died.

That means about 55 million people perished because of violence and never-before-seen pathogens like smallpox, measles, and influenza.

According to these new calculations, the death toll represented about 10 percent of the entire Earth’s population at the time. It’s more people than the modern-day populations of New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Beijing combined.

The disappearance of so many people meant less farming

Using these population numbers and estimates about how much land people used per capita, the study authors calculated that indigenous populations farmed roughly 62 million hectares (239,000 square miles) of land prior to European contact.

That number, too, dropped by roughly 90 percent, to only 6 million hectares (23,000 square miles) by 1600.

Over time, trees and vegetation took over that previously farmed land and started absorbing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide traps heat in the planet’s atmosphere (it’s what human activity now emits on an unprecedented scale), but plants and trees absorb that gas as part of photosynthesis.

So when the previously farmed land in North and South America – equal to an area almost the size of France – was reforested by trees and flora, atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels dropped.

Antarctic ice cores dating back to the late 1500s and 1600s confirm that decrease in carbon dioxide.

That CO2 drop was enough to lower global temperatures by 0.15 degrees Celsius and contribute to the enigmatic global cooling trend called the “Little Ice Age,” during which glaciers expanded.

Lingering doubts

“The researchers are likely overstating their case,” Joerg Schaefer from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, told Live Science.

“I am absolutely sure this paper does not explain the cause of the carbon dioxide change and the temperature change during that time.”

Koch said that some of the drop in carbon dioxide could have been caused by other, natural factors like volcanic eruptions or changes in solar activity.

But he and his colleagues concluded that the death of 55 million indigenous Americans explained about 50 percent of the overall reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

“So you need both natural and human forces to explain the drop,” he said.

Koch said the findings revise our understanding of how long human activity has been influencing Earth’s climate.

“Human actions at that time caused a drop in atmospheric CO₂ that cooled the planet long before human civilization was concerned with the idea of climate change,” he and his co-authors wrote.

But they warned that if a similar reforestation event were to happen today, it wouldn’t do much to mitigate the Earth’s current rate of warming.

The drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide that happened in the 1600s only represents about three years’ worth of fossil fuel emissions today, Koch said.

“There’s no way around reducing fossil fuel emissions,” he said, adding that reforestation and forest restoration remain crucial, too.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

[SOURCE]

B.C. Starts New Reconciliation Process With Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs

Drummers play as Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Namoks (John Ridsdale), front left, enters the room as Indigenous nations and supporters gather to show support for the Wet’suwet’en Nation before marching together in solidarity, in Smithers, B.C., January 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS

British Columbia says it’s starting a new reconciliation process with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who are at the centre of opposition to a natural gas pipeline in northern B.C.

The province says in a release Thursday that the government and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en are undertaking a process focused on Wet’suwet’en title, rights, laws and traditional governance throughout their territory.

The release says B.C. has appointed Victoria MP and lawyer Murray Rankin as its representative to help guide and design the process, adding that Rankin has an understanding of the Supreme Court’s historic Delgamuukw decision that helped define Indigenous title.

It says the province and the Wet’suwet’en are committed to explore a path forward together that seeks to build trust over time and meaningfully advance reconciliation.

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs oppose Coastal GasLink’s plans to build a pipeline from northeastern B.C. to LNG Canada’s export terminal in Kitimat, and RCMP arrested 14 people at a blockade last month before reaching a deal with the chiefs.

The province says its commitment to lasting reconciliation is not connected to any specific project, and the new process will build on discussions that have been ongoing since Premier John Horgan and Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Scott Fraser visited the territory in August.

“We all recognize that the path forward will involve challenges. It will take a willingness to innovate and take bold steps together,” the province says.

“This engagement is a historic opportunity to advance Wet’suwet’en self-determination and self-governance, and for the province and Wet’suwet’en Nation to establish a deeper relationship based on respect and recognition of rights.”

[SOURCE]

Wet’suwet’en complaints about pipeline builder to be probed by government, police

RCMP officers join hereditary chiefs and supporters as they walk towards Unist’ot’en camp near Houston, B.C., on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Wet’suwet’en say traplines and tents destroyed, archeological impact assessment not yet done

The British Columbia government says it will inspect the site of a planned natural gas pipeline southwest of Houston following allegations that the company building the project is violating its permits.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and supporters have alleged that Coastal GasLink is engaging in construction activity without an archeological impact assessment and also destroyed traplines and tents unnecessarily.

The Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources says in a statement that joint site inspection will be conducted by the province’s Environmental Assessment Office and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission next week.

“We anticipate that it will take some time subsequently to determine whether any non-compliances are evident and, if so, the appropriate enforcement action,” the ministry said.

The RCMP also said it has received complaints from both the Office of the Wet’suwet’en and Coastal GasLink regarding traplines and the removal of personal property items.

“We are following up on all complaints and continue to facilitate ongoing and direct dialogue between all parties regarding various issues,” the RCMP said.

Gidimt’en say 3 tents bulldozed

Trans Canada-owned Coastal GasLink is working to build a natural gas pipeline from northeastern British Columbia to LNG’s export facility on the coast as part of a $40-billion project.

Members of the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation issued a statement Monday saying the company “wilfully, illegally, and violently destroyed” its property this weekend, while the company said its actions have been permitted and lawful.

Jen Wickham, a member of the Gidimt’en clan, said Coastal GasLink bulldozed three tents constructed with timber and canvas in an area along a logging road not included in the company’s plans.

“CGL workers just tore down all our stuff, threw them in [shipping containers] and said we had until the end of the day to pick them up or they would be thrown in the dump,” she said.

The tents were constructed when members erected a barrier at the same location, where RCMP enforced a court injunction on Jan. 7 and arrested 14 people in a move that sparked protests across Canada and internationally.

Wickham said Wet’suwet’en members told RCMP they wanted the tents to remain to host cultural workshops.

Following the enforcement of the court injunction, a road was plowed around the tents allowing free movement of vehicles.

President of Coastal GasLink pipeline Rick Gateman leaves the Office of the Wet’suwet’en after meeting with RCMP members and hereditary chiefs in Smithers, B.C., on Jan. 10. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

Coastal GasLink said in a statement that all work it’s doing is “approved and permitted and in full compliance” with its environmental assessment certificate issued by the province and the company has met all required pre-construction conditions.

“These areas are active work zones that are lawful and permitted. Any obstruction impeding our crews from safely accessing these work zones is in contravention of a court order,” Coastal GasLink said.

Traplines in dispute

On Friday, Coastal GasLink said it stopped work in an area closer to its planned work site because traplines had been placed inside construction boundaries and people were entering the site, raising safety concerns.

Jason Slade, a supporter with the nearby Unist’ot’en camp run by Wet’suwet’en members, said Monday that work only halted temporarily and the traplines had been destroyed. He said excavation had begun at the site of a planned “man camp.”

The Unist’ot’en allege the actions violate the Wildlife Act by interfering with lawful trapping, as well as an agreement that the Wet’suwet’en hereditary clan chiefs had reached with RCMP allowing the company access to the area and ensuring traditional practices like trapping could continue.

The clan also alleges it is violating its permits with the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and Environmental Assessment Office by beginning construction work before an archeological impact assessment has been complete.

In a letter to the commission on Friday, Chief Knedebeas of the Unist’ot’en Clan points to an affidavit filed by a company official in November as part of its court injunction application, saying the assessment is scheduled for May.

Knedebeas asks in the letter that a stop-work order be issued immediately while the allegations are investigated.

The Canadian Press · Posted: Jan 29, 2019

[SOURCE]

 

Coastal GasLink stops work on pipeline over trapline dispute in northern B.C.

RCMP officers look on as contractors pass through their roadblock as supporters of the Unist’ot’en camp and Wet’suwet’en First Nation gather at a camp fire off a logging road near Houston, B.C., on Jan. 9. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A company building a pipeline has stopped work on the project in northwestern British Columbia where 14 people were arrested earlier this month.

Coastal GasLink says in a notice posted on its website on Thursday that it stopped work in an area south of Houston because traps had been placed inside construction boundaries and people were entering the site, raising safety concerns.

The company says it was working with the RCMP to address the issue.

Earlier this week, the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation alleged on social media that pipeline contractors had driven a bulldozer through the heart of one of their traplines south of Houston, which they say violates the Wildlife Act by interfering with lawful trapping.

The company says its work in the area has been fully approved and permitted, and it reminded the public that unauthorized access to an active construction site where heavy equipment is being used can be dangerous.

The pipeline will run through Wet’suwet’en territory to LNG Canada’s $40-billion export facility in Kitimat.

Opponents say Coastal GasLink has no authority to build without consent from Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

The company says it has signed agreements with the elected councils of all 20 First Nations along the route, including some Wet’suwet’en elected council members

Those council members say they are independent from the hereditary chiefs’ authority and inked deals to bring better education, elder care and services to their members.

Hereditary chiefs say they have authority over 22,000 square kilometres of Wet’suwet’en traditional territory while elected band members administer the reserves.

Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, says the dispute is an example of how the Indian Act, which imposed the band council system on First Nations, is still creating confusion and conflict over Indigenous governance.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Gasoline pipeline explosion in Mexico kills 66 people, leaves dozens injured

A gasoline pipeline explosion in Tlahuelilpan, Mexico, has killed at least 66 people and left dozens injured.

Gov. Omar Fayad said at least 76 people were injured. More than 85 other people were listed as missing.

The pipeline is owned by Mexican oil company PEMEX.