Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver) — The leadership of the First Nations Summit is concerned with the approach laid out yesterday by BC on heavy oil pipelines in British Columbia.
“Yesterday’s announcement clearly shows the Provincial Government is on the wrong track and does not fully understand the level of opposition or the reasons for opposition to both the Northern Gateway Pipeline project and the Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion project”, said Chief Doug White of the First Nations Summit Political Executive.
“First Nations opposition to these projects is extremely strong and building. The Province should have sat down with First Nations and understood the basis for this opposition before wrongheadedly suggesting there is a viable pathway for these projects to proceed,” he added.
“As we have clearly stated time and time again, First Nations must be fully engaged in all processes leading to any and all government decisions regarding the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan proposals. Given the law as developed in a long line of cases from the Supreme Court of Canada there is a legal requirement for governments to “consult and accommodate” First Nations regarding any and all land and resource development initiatives in their respective territories”, added Grand Chief Edward John of the FNS Political Executive.
“Given the magnitude and potential environmental implications of these pipeline proposals, it is our view that the appropriate consultation standard is the “free, prior and informed consent” of all First Nations concerned. This standard of consent has been adopted by the Supreme Court of Canada and also the United Nations in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is now time to apply and give life to these important standards”, added Chief John.
“BC First Nations opposition is a result of deep and real concerns about the devastating impacts an oil spill would have should the pipelines be approved”, added Dan Smith, Also a member of the FNS Political Executive.
First Nations leadership will continue to engage with the Province of BC on these important issues in an effort to voice the concerns of BC First Nations who are grappling with the potential impacts of proposed pipeline development projects in their traditional territories.
The First Nations Summit speaks on behalf of First Nations involved in treaty negotiations in British Columbia. The Summit is also a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Further background information on the Summit may be found at www.fns.bc.ca.