Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (AHN) – Sixty-one aboriginal Canadian communities joined forces on Thursday to oppose the proposed $5.5 billion Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project that would transport petroleum through pipelines from Canada’s oil sands.
Included in the 61 communities are 54 British Columbia First Nations bands such as the Haida Nation and Gitga’at who live along the marine part of the pipeline’s route.
The native communities released a declaration of opposition, signed by their band leaders, to the planned 1,170-kilometer (727 mile) pipeline linking Alberta oil sands facilities to Kitimat in British Columbia. The oil sands would then be transferred to oil tankers from Kitimat.
The natives said they are against the pipeline project to cross their lands, territories and watershed because of the risk of oil spill on their waterways and lands, which would destroy their food supply, livelihood and cultures. They added aboriginal laws do not allow crude pipelines into First Nations territories.
An Enbridge spokesperson said the energy firm is confident the pipeline project would still continue through despite the aboriginal opposition. The spokesperson said the 61 opposing bands do not represent all aboriginal communities because Enbridge has inked working protocols with 30 other First Nations bands in BC and Alberta.
However, the protocols are just expressions of willingness among the bands to sit down and discuss with Enbridge the proposed pipeline, not a sure sign of approval for the controversial project.
The project would deliver 525,000 barrels of oil daily to the West Coast and pipe 193,000 barrels of condensate in the opposite direction. Enbridge said the pipeline would not cross the Fraser River, but cross other major BC rivers such as the Salmon and Stuart Rivers.