KITKATLA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - June 17, 2014) - Gitxaala Nation today expressed extreme disappointment in the Canadian government's decision to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and vowed to continue the fight to prevent tankers from passing through their territorial waters.
"Canada has violated its own constitution," said Acting Chief Clarence Innis, "Section 35 of the constitution says the federal government has a duty to consult with First Nations and they haven't done that."
He added that Gitxaala have a strong legal case to stop the Northern Gateway Project and intend to do everything possible to protect their traditional harvesting territory which provides 80 per cent of their food.
The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized, in a number of rulings, the duty to consult and accommodate First Nations. Those decisions have found that consultation and accommodation are constitutional obligations that must take place before important decisions affecting First Nations are made.
Since 2010, the Gitxaala have participated in good faith in the review of Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project, dedicating significant resources to present concerns and expert evidence. Throughout the Joint Review Panel process, Gitxaala raised concerns that the Northern Gateway Project would adversely affect its constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights including adverse impacts on its Aboriginal title and self-governance.
The evidence Gitxaala put before the JRP showed that if the Project were permitted, it would interfere with the Gitxaala's rights in numerous ways, including: jurisdiction, governance and Aboriginal title; and economic, cultural and spiritual way of life.
The Gitxaala were shocked that the JRP ignored and summarily dismissed all of its concerns.
To date, Canada has refused to discuss how this project would impact Gitxaala's Aboriginal rights - despite repeated requests.