Alberta First Nations leaders join B.C. nations in push against Gateway pipeline
Published Friday, January 27, 2012 7:06PM MST
As National Energy Board hearings on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline enter their final days – leaders from First Nations in Alberta joined their B.C. counterparts in fighting the proposed line.
"We have used our indigenous laws to consider the pipeline," Chief Jackie Thomas, with the Yinka Dene Alliance said. "We have made our decision,
"Enbridge will not be allowed to come through our territory."
Chief Thomas was one of several representing First Nations in Alberta and the Northwest Territories who pledged their support for those in B.C. by signing the Fraser Declaration.
The declaration now has more than 100 First Nations groups behind it.
"It is concrete evidence that the First Nations in [the] Northwest Territories and Alberta are standing behind those in B.C., that hold the same concerns," NDP MP Linda Duncan said Friday.
The declaration states those who have signed it will not allow the proposed, controversial pipeline to go through their territory.
The proposed $5.5 billion pipeline would transport bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to tankers in Kitimat, B.C. - where it would be taken to markets in Asia.
It's another major action against the pipeline, which is currently the subject of a series of hearings before the National Energy Board.
More than 4,300 people signed up to speak before the board – representing both sides of the argument.
Those against the development believe environmental risk is too great.
"I think this fight could be put in a different direction," Chief Allan Adan with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation said. "We could correct this problem and make it right."
On the other hand, the Federal Environment Minister said the pipeline is a step in the right direction for the Canadian economy.
"Canadians must realize that a good deal of the social safety nets, [such as] our education programs, is funded by the resource industry," Minister Peter Kent said Thursday.
A decision on the pipeline is not expected for at least one year, but First Nations who have signed the declaration are ready to fight if they have to.
"Mark my words, if Enbridge tries to disobey our laws, we will use every means available to us under indigenous, Canadian, and International law to enforce our decision," Chief Thomas said.
With files from Sonia Sunger