Gitxaala Nation

November 17, 2011 10:30 ET

Unanswered Questions About Northern Gateway Project Concerning to Gitxaala Nation

KITKATLA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 17, 2011) - The Gitxaala Nation says there are too many unanswered questions about a major project being proposed on B.C.'s north coast.

The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project would bring supertankers filled with Oil Sands crude oil into B.C.'s coastal waters. If the project is approved, over 220 tankers per year would travel through waters within Gitxaala's Traditional Territory on their way to and from Kitimat, through areas where Gitxaala members still harvest extensively in the exercise of their Aboriginal title and rights.

The Northern Gateway project is currently going through a public review process to assess its environmental and social effects. Gitxaala has been participating in the public review process and, for over a year, has been raising concerns about serious gaps in Northern Gateway's plans for the project. In August of 2011, Gitxaala again requested information about the project from Northern Gateway. However, Gitxaala says that the information has still not been provided.

The information which Gitxaala says is missing goes to the heart of the most important issue for Gitxaala as a coastal First Nation – the risks posed by the project,including from an oil spill that would impact Gitxaala's lands, waters and Aboriginal rights. Gitxaala says that, to date, Northern Gateway has failed to look at the effects the tanker traffic would have on the resources, culture, well-being and health of the Gitxaala people, something Northern Gateway is required to do as part of the public review process.

Chief Elmer Moody says this information is an essential part of the public review process: "It is needed so that everyone can fully understand the potential risks associated with the project, and the steps Northern Gateway is planning to take to address these risks. This is particularly important in relation to the risk of an oil spill, which, given where we live, would be devastating for us. Without this information, we can't know how our communities would be affected by an oil spill. They're rolling the dice with the future of our communities and we need to know they've considered everything they're legally required to consider."

Last Tuesday, Gitxaala asked the Panel overseeing the public review process to put Northern Gateway's application on hold until the missing information is provided and Northern Gateway complies with the requirements of the public review process.

The Haisla First Nation, the Coastal First Nations alliance as well as environmental organizations the Living Oceans Society, the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and ForestEthics have all made similar requests to the Panel.

Hearings for the public review process are currently scheduled to start in January 2012.

Contact Information

  • Gitxaala Nation
    Chief Elmer Moody
    (250) 848-2214

    Janes Freedman Kyle Law Corporation
    Rosanne Kyle
    (604) 687-0549, ext. 101