More than two thousand residents from across Northern British Columbia (BC) joined forces in Prince Rupert February 4 to demonstrate against the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. The message was clear: Oil spills are inevitable, and for that reason, oil tankers and oil pipelines will not be allowed in BC's coastal waters.
The proposed pipeline would transport bitumen from the Alberta tar sands in Kitimat, B.C., where it would be loaded on tankers and shipped to markets in the U.S. and Asia.
The demonstration follows warnings that the pipeline proposal currently under review at National Energy Board (NEB) hearings could damage the relationship between the federal government and First Nations. More than 4,300 individuals and groups have signed up to speak during federal panels' the environmental hearings on the pipeline.. Hearings are expected to last until 2013.
"We always said to the government that they need our free, prior and informed consent for a project of this magnitude," said Chief Larry Nooski of Nadleh Whut'en. "We told the government that First Nations are entitled to a seat at the table. They have refused all along - they won't even have the conversation."
More than 100 First Nations in in BC, Alberta and the NWT have signed the Yinka Dene Alliance Save the Fraser Declaration - a formal legal declaration to protect the world's most critical salmon rivers, and the Pacific North Coast, from the threat of oil spills by the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline and super tankers.
"As a community being impacted by rapid tar sands development in the Alberta we support the Yinka Dene Alliance and understand the importance of protecting sacred waterways from the dangers of this pipeline," stated Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. "Our community has seen the devastating impacts of tar sands projects and we truly hope that our brothers and sisters in the Fraser River do not suffer the same fate."
View February 6, 2012 Vancouver Sun coverage
View February 6, 2012 Gitga'at First Nation press release
View February 4, 2012 CBC coverage
View February 2, 2012 Saik'uz First Nation press release
View January 27, 2012 Yinka Dene Alliance press release
View Yinka Dene Alliance web site