Nadleh Whut'en, Nak'azdli, Saik'uz, Takla Lake and Wet'suwet'en

September 09, 2010 10:02 ET

Government Review Process is Flawed: Enbridge Pipeline Doomed

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Energy Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor FRASER LAKE, BC, NEWS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Sept. 9, 2010) - The Carrier Sekani communities of Nadleh Whut'en, Nak'azdli Whut'en, Saik'uz, Takla Lake and Wet'suwet'en First Nations are standing united to proclaim that the federal government's review of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project is flawed and has no authority.

These 5 First Nations see the Joint Review Panel as a waste of taxpayers' and investors money, and will do nothing to protect the environment or the rights of indigenous people. The deck is stacked by having the Panel members accountable to the existing government, which has been reluctant to lead in progressive climate change policy, including that of stopping energy developments in the Alberta Tar Sands - the most destructive project in the world (also considered by some to be the largest industrial project in human history) and largest contributor to green house gas emissions and other toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, land and water, which impact the quality of life of all Canadians.

"The Panel was appointed by a federal Minister. The indigenous people who will be most affected by the proposed pipeline were not included in establishing a fair and transparent process for reviewing this project." Stated Chief Larry Nooski of the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation. "This process is a contravention of our existing Section 35 Aboriginal Rights, and Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:

Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions.

Chief Karen Ogen of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation said, "Our people and Elders have been discussing this proposed pipeline project since they first showed up 5 years ago. We told them then, and we're telling them now. Enbridge is not allowed to bring dirty oil through our communities, because when a spill happens it will destroy our water for generations." In addition, Chief Dolly Abraham stated, "Enbridge cannot even take care of its existing pipelines. The people around the Kalamazoo River in Michigan have had their homes destroyed by negligent regulators and an irresponsible company [Enbridge]. Strike three happened many, many years ago. Enbridge has a bad track record, and government regulators brush spills and leaks under the carpet." In July 2010 the Canadian House of Commons Environment Committee killed a report on the impacts to water from the Alberta Tar Sands because Conservative MPs wanted to hide testimony that government officials failed to protect the environment. It is the same Tar Sands oil that could be moved through the Enbridge pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, BC. It is the same Tar Sands oil that spilled into the Kalamazoo River.

Vice Tribal Chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council noted, "First Nations are being supported by many, many Canadian citizens that are concerned that the cumulative impacts from the pipeline are simply not worth the risk. We've seen what the mountain pine beetle has done to our forests and local economy. We need to focus on moving into a low carbon economy and innovation through education and conservation."

Alternatives to oil are available and relevant policies and laws must be developed in concert with indigenous peoples in north central BC. "We are here to stay and defend our lands and resources from unsustainable practices." Voiced Chief Fred Sam of the Nak'azdli Whut'en. "We have strong prima facia cases for title to our territories, and industry and government better pay close attention to what free, prior and informed consent means, because if First Nations don't approve a project, it will not happen." The 5 First Nations are no strangers to development in their territories. They are not anti-development; it just must be appropriate and sustainable. The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project is neither.

"Our people have been here since time immemorial. That means that our ancestors did things to respect and give thanks to the creator for all the beauty of our lands and what it provided for our survival. In return, we took care of land, the fish, the plants and other creatures. People cannot eat money; money can't buy a healthy environment," said Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik'uz First Nation. Enbridge jobs being offered to First Nations and northern residents have no long term value. They will not diversify local economies, nor build strong sustainable communities. The 5 First Nations are seeking investments in projects that truly benefit people, the environment and relationships. The Enbridge project is doomed to fail since it has already not listened to First Nations communities.

A separate First Nations review process is required of these mega projects like the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines proposal. Several First Nations have brought this proposal forward to government, but it has been ignored, in fear that power in Ottawa will be tarnished. First Nations and local communities deserve a fair, transparent and relevant process, and it is not found with the current Joint Review Panel.

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