Coastal First Nations applaud Northern Gateway rejection and crude oil tanker ban

Vancouver – The federal government’s decision to quash the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project and impose a crude oil tanker moratorium on BC’s north coast is a double victory for Coastal First Nations (CFN) and for all north coast communities fighting to protect coastal economies, cultures and ecosystems.

“We’re jubilant to see this final nail in the coffin to Enbridge Northern Gateway,” says CFN Board Chair Patrick Kelly. “We’re also pleased with the announcement of a moratorium on the transport of crude oil through the Great Bear Rainforest region. At first glance, today’s announcement looks like it should meet our objectives but we will need to take a closer look to better understand what’s included in the federal government’s list of banned substances.”

Kelly says these decisions are particularly welcomed in the wake of the tragic diesel spill of the Nathan E. Stewart tug that closed a vital clam fishery in Heiltsuk Territory in October.

“Nobody knows better than First Nations the risks posed by crude oil transport at sea and the damage oil spills can wreak on our cultures, economies and ways of life,” says Kelly. “The sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart in Heiltsuk waters is chilling evidence of what we’ve been saying for years: oil spills are inevitable and their impacts far-reaching and devastating for First Nations communities.”

Kelly says the Federal Court of Appeal ruling earlier this year that the previous Conservative government had failed in its duty to consult with First Nations on Northern Gateway is a clear sign going forward that governments must engage in full nation-to-nation decision-making on shipping and other resource projects impacting First Nations territories.

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