Council of Treaty 8 Chiefs

April 11, 2005 09:00 ET

Council of Treaty 8 Chiefs to Examine Proposed Alaska Pipeline

Attention: Business/Financial Editor, Environment Editor, Energy Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TREATY 8 TERRITORY NORTHEASTERN BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - April 11, 2005) - The Council of Treaty 8 Chiefs (CT8C) announce today that it has undertaken an examination of the potential impact of the proposed Alaska pipeline project. The CT8C represents six Treaty 8 First Nations through which any pipeline following the route of the Alaska Highway, on its way to the lower 48 states, would pass.

"British Columbia Treaty 8 First Nations are not opposed to the economic development of our territories. We are examining the possibility of participating directly in pipeline projects. What we do oppose is any development that would proceed by ignoring or giving only token consideration to our treaty rights and interests," stated Deputy Chief Liz Logan, elected political spokesperson for CT8C. The construction, and operation, of any pipeline through Treaty 8 British Columbia must bring significant, reliable and long-term benefits to CT8C First Nations and their members. "This is a priority for us," she emphasized.

The CT8C also recognized the current uncertainty that surrounds the regulatory process that would govern the proposed project. "We are willing, and intend to, engage fully in discussions with all potential project sponsors. We do, however, have serious concerns as to whether the Northern Pipeline Act, and the certificates and regulations that have been issued under it, can allow for the full and meaningful exercise of our treaty rights (as recognized and affirmed under section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982), particularly our right to be consulted meaningfully at all stages of the process, and to have our interests accommodated" said Deputy Chief Logan.

The CT8C stressed its intention to participate actively and aggressively in any regulatory process to ensure full recognition and accommodation of their treaty rights and interests. It pointed to the recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests) as strong support for the fact that the honour of the Crown, and the duties to consult and accommodate that are grounded in it, would be engaged to the fullest extent with respect to any proposed pipeline project through Treaty 8 British Columbia.

"Our communities can still recall being informed for the first time in 1979 about a pipeline that the government had already decided was to be built through our lands," noted Deputy Chief Logan. "This is what passed for consultation, and First Nations' participation, in those days. That will not happen again."

/For further information: Liz Logan Deputy Chief of Treaty 8 (250) 785-0612 Robert Metcs Treaty 8 Pipeline Team (613) 830-8286 IN: ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, INTERNATIONAL, POLITICS

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