Former MP Nathan Cullen appointed B.C. liaison between province, Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs

Nathan Cullen

The British Columbia government has appointed former New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen as a provincial liaison with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in an LNG pipeline dispute.

Chief Na’Moks, also known as John Ridsdale, said Cullen is “trusted” by the hereditary chiefs and has been at the table already at some of their recent meetings.

But he said they had “no interest in meeting with the company,” whom they don’t consider a decision-maker in this dispute.

He repeated their request to meet with the premier.

Cullen represented Skeena-Bulkley Valley, a sprawling part of northern British Columbia that includes the Wet’suwet’en traditional territory, until last year when he decided not to seek re-election.

The premier’s office says Cullen will work with Wet’suwet’en leaders, the RCMP, Coastal GasLink, the provincial public sector and other parties.

It says he will focus on de-escalating the conflict surrounding a court-ordered injunction regarding the company’s access to a forest service road outside of Houston.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nations along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre route from northeastern B.C. to an export terminal in Kitimat but the hereditary clan chiefs say it has no authority without their consent.

Supporters of the clan chiefs felled trees along the road and built encampments after the chiefs issued an eviction notice to the company soon after the injunction was granted.

Premier John Horgan says in a statement that he’s pleased all parties have agreed to the appointment of a liaison.

“Nathan has agreed to act as an intermediary in the hopes of finding a solution to this challenging dispute,” Horgan says.

Shortly after the announcement Coastal GasLink sent out a statement.

“I am pleased that Premier John Horgan has appointed Nathan Cullen as a liaison between the Province and the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and remain hopeful that the Chiefs will meet with Coastal GasLink and find a peaceful resolution to the current situation,” said Coastal GasLink President David Pfeiffer.

with files from the Canadian Press