Pipeline Foes Likely Staged Discovery of Cultural Artifacts

CLAIM: Canadian pipeline foes claimed that they discovered cultural artifacts at a Coastal GasLink Pipeline construction site in northern British Columbia.

RATING: Likely False


TransCanada voluntarily suspended construction on its Coastal Gaslink natural gas pipeline in order to investigate a complaint that a work site contained cultural artifacts. However, an investigation and subsequent report concluded that the pipeline construction site “was likely not [the] original location” of the artifacts referred to in the complaint.

On February 14, the Unist’ot’en of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation filed a complaint with the BC Oil and Gas Commission stating that cultural artifacts had been found and recovered at a Coastal GasLink work site in northern British Columbia. In response, the province’s top energy regulator immediately dispatched a team to the location to investigate the claim.

At the site, investigators, including two well-credentialed archaeologists, observed some stone artifacts within the buffer zone established by TransCanada following the initial report. “Upon entry into the marked area and after some snow clearing, the team observed lithics (stone artifacts) on top of frozen clay soils,” states a March 8 bulletin from the Commission.

It was during a second visit to the site that investigators came to the conclusion that the artifacts were likely intentionally placed in the construction site. According to the bulletin, “the soils upon which the artifacts were found would not typically contain any such cultural artifacts and this was likely not their original location.”

So what actually happened?

The Unist’ot’en Clan has been vehemently opposed to Coastal GasLink and over the past year has staged a number of protests and legal challenges to the project. In January, Canadian authorities arrested 14 individuals at a fortified checkpoint setup prevent TransCanada from accessing the area.

It would appear opponents are now resorting to new tactics—like staging the discovery of artifacts—to stop construction of this lawfully-approved pipeline.

GAINFactChecker.org will continue to monitor the situation and provide relevant updates if new information becomes available.