OTTAWA — Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller says all parties are at a "critical junction" in the discussions toward a resolution on the blockade set up at the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in British Columbia.
Miller adds that it is an "alarming" and "tense" situation since 500 workers are currently behind the barricades.
The blockade was erected Sunday by members of the Gidimt'en clan, one of five in the broader Wet'suwet'en Nation.
A spokesperson for the Gidimt'en clan says the hereditary chiefs have never ceded nor surrendered the territory, and said that the Coastal GasLink workers were given eight hours notice to peacefully evacuate before the road to the work site was barricaded.
Miller says those involved in the talks include the B.C. government, Coastal GasLink, and the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.
On whether the situation might escalate to one akin to the scenario in early 2020, when the Wet'suwet'en and others in solidarity staged massive rail blockades across the country, Miller says "it depends" what happens.
Asked whether the Wet'suwet'en people's rights and sovereignty have been violated, Miller says the federal government brought forward a framework that affirmed rights in title to the Wet'suwet'en in 2020, adding that there's still work to do on that front.
Miller says there is a window in the next week or so for a resolution to be reached, but specified it will require "good minds" to come together and provide solutions that address the issues at play.
"There are views that are diametrically opposed, but I don't preclude by that same stroke the ability to resolve that in a peaceful way," he said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 16, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
The Canadian Press