Council of the Haida Nation objects to oil pipeline plans
George T. Baker,
Group won't accept risk of tanker spills
PRINCE RUPERT -- The Council of the Haida Nation says it has not been consulted about Enbridge Inc.'s plans to build an oil pipeline running from northern Alberta to Kitimat.
CHN representative Robert Davis said the Haida Nation would never accept Enbridge's plan even if it did consult.
"The Haida Nation will certainly not accept tanker traffic where we would bear the burden of risk and oil spills in our waters. Our livelihoods would be jeopardized," Davis said. "Many of our neighbour nations are equally concerned about impacts on their lands and water. We are willing to stand united to protect our waters."
Davis spoke after the First Nations Summit called for an independent First Nations environmental review of the proposed $4-billion Northern Gateway project.
The Haida Nation has been clear that it will oppose any plan that would bring oil tanker traffic to the North Coast area.
There is already plenty of traffic west of the Queen Charlotte Islands, with many ships making the trip from Alaska to the western U.S. But opening up the pipeline to Kitimat would put oil tankers into the heart of North Coast waters. That is something northern B.C. first nations want to be very cautious about.
The First Nations Summit call followed a Nov. 6 gathering during which hereditary chiefs, elected chiefs and other representatives from six First Nations shared concerns about the Gateway pipeline and coastal tanker traffic.
They agreed that current consultation attempts by the federal government and Enbridge do not meet a standard of genuine engagement with First Nations.
"Regulators are not respecting the fact that we have a responsibility to protect our ancestral territories, rights, title and interests," said David de Wit, natural resources manager for the Wet'suwet'en First Nations.
"Gateway is a major project with significant risks. Yet, the federal government is advancing a decision-making process for Gateway without any provision for addressing aboriginal rights and title. This is unacceptable."
Enbridge held an open house in Prince Rupert yesterday to provide its side of the story.
The pipeline is to undergo a Joint Review Panel process beginning in early 2009. But that process does not take into account risks from coastal tanker traffic and oilsands expansion that would follow pipeline construction, critics say.