Enbridge Confronted Over Controversial Pipeline to West Coast

Proposed Pipeline Route Through Wet’suwet’en Nation Territory

Media Release by the Dogwood Initiative:

January 14, 2010 (Victoria, BC) — Grassroots members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and Saik’uz First Nation have traveled from northwest British Columbia to join Calgarians and BC-based NGO Dogwood Initiative to greet employees of pipeline company Enbridge Inc. this morning as they head into work (425 1st Street SW – 7:30am to 9:00am).

They’ll be reiterating a message that Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel has heard again and again in British Columbia: ‘No and Never’, to the company’s proposed ‘Northern Gateway’ pipeline and tanker project that would transport oil from Alberta to BC’s coast, and then on to Asia and other markets.

“The executives hold the reigns,” says Dogwood Initiative’s Eric Swanson, referring to the Northern Gateway project, “yet everybody at Enbridge could benefit by knowing more about the people who stand to lose.”

“Our Clan members have met many times to discuss the issue and because there are already serious cumulative impacts on all of our ecosystems, we unanimously oppose Enbridge’s plans for their Northern Gateway Pipeline. Our authority and jurisdiction have never been extinguished and they will be exercised in this case.” says Hereditary Chief Toghestiy (Warner Naziel) of the Wet’suwset’en Nation’s Likhts’amisyu Clan.

“This pipeline is proposed to parallel one of our spawning channels for salmon which all of our people depend on. We have the responsibility to protect that sensitive ecosystem for all of our people today and for the many generations into the future. We will protect this precious resource.” says Freda Huson spokesperson of the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s ‘Unis hot’en people.

“As a Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Clan member of the Lax Gibuu / Gitimt’en I strongly oppose the full scope of the tar sands initiatives, including all the pipelines that direct from it, the resulting tanker traffic along the east and west coasts, and CN’s proposed ‘pipeline on rail’,” says Mel Bazil. “Thousands of water courses across North America are threatened or at risk because of existing or proposed pipelines.”

“As a supporting ally to the Wet’suwet’en and as a member of the Saik’uz First Nation, I strongly support the Wet’suwet’en in protecting their lands and their territories, as it will also be protecting our territories,” says Adam Thomas.

Backgrounder:

Unceded Territory – Much of British Columbia is the un-ceded territory of First Nations, who have never signed treaties with the Crown. The interplay of aboriginal rights and title with the Crown’s claim to title, and resource decision making authority on these lands create massive uncertainty with respect to resource projects such as Enbridge’s proposed pipeline.

Opposition to Federal Review Process – The government of Canada has announced a terms of reference for a Joint Review Panel (JRP) to review the Northern Gateway pipeline. However, this process lacks legitimacy because several First Nations, including the Wet’suwet’en Nation, consider the government to have failed in its constitutional and court-directed duty to meaningfully consult them with respect to the review. Some First Nations have stated that the review itself is an infringement of their aboriginal title and rights – including the Nadleh Whut’en and Wet’suwet’en.

The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) sued the federal government in 2006 – the first time Enbridge put forward this pipeline proposal for review – citing a failure to meaningfully consult. The CSTC and other bodies, including the First Nations Summit have been advocating for a parallel First Nations review process; the federal government has refused this proposal.

First Nations Support for the Process – As of mid-2009 Enbridge had signed protocol agreements with 29 First Nations in Alberta and British Columbia. These protocol agreements include provision of funds to First Nations to conduct studies and for other purposes; and in return require that the signing First Nation agree to support the government review process.

First Nations Opposition to the Project – In June 2009 Alberta’s Mikisew Cree First Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation joined the Wet’suwet’en, Nadleh Whut’en, Haisla, Gitga’at, Gitxaala and Haida of BC in signing a declaration to stop any plans to transport oil from the oilsands to the Pacific coast. The declaration was signed at an All Nations Energy Summit, video highlights of which can be viewed here. A text summary of First Nations opposition to the project can be viewed here. A significant portion of the proposed pipeline route and the entirety of the proposed tanker route in BC overlap territories of First Nations that are opposed.

Opposition Shared By BC Residents – Polling continues to show that close to three quarters of BC residents support a legislated oil tanker ban on BC’s north Pacific coast (Synovate, 2008); such a ban would preclude any northern oil pipeline and tanker proposal. Both the federal NDP and Liberals have supported such a ban.

###

Contact:

Eric Swanson

Dogwood Initiative

email: eric [at] dogwoodinitiative.org

tel: +1 (250) 858-9990

Warner Naziel

Wet’suwset’en Nation’s Likhts’amisyu Clan

tel: +1 (250) 877-3915

Video available: DVD format footage available of First Nation opposition to the project

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