The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project has not only been met with tremendous opposition by the Yinka Dene Alliance, a group of five First Nations in northern BC, but has drawn in much public outrage as the Harper administration turns what should be a clean fight into a dirty one.
“The fix is in with this government. How can any Canadian trust that the Enbridge review process will be conducted fairly and independently with Harper Breathing down the review panel’s neck?” said Chief Larry Nooski of Nadleh Whut’en First Nation, a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance. “We have deep concerns about this Enbridge review process from the very beginning, because it doesn’t respect First Nations rights – that’s why we’re not intervening at the review panel.”
It is no wonder that there is a concern regarding the fairness of these trials when statements by both the Prime Minister and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver are describing opponents of the pipeline as foreign ‘radicals’ who are fighting against Canada’s national interest. It is one thing for our federal government to use its power to promote what it considers to be a great economic opportunity and it is quite another to disregard a sentiment that is clear from within the Canadian people.
Yes, it can be argued that as our US neighbours to the south continue to delve into deeper economic crisis and it makes sense that Canadians look at options of diversification. Yes, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project does present an opportunity build a stronger economic relationship with Asia – but at what cost?
There is a fine balance that needs to be made between accountability in this country and sustainability and at present there doesn’t seem to be much being done with respect to latter. This is a time when Canadians need to look far into the future and ask themselves what they want British Columbia to look like for their children’s’ children.
Haisla Hereditary Chief Ken Hall points to a physical threat to the homes and lives of the Haisla people and their children’s futures.
This is not a political play but a real and desperate people that are fighting for sustainability. However, the stage has now become ripe for larger issues, which First Nations are having no qualms about bringing to the media’s attention.
“It is ludicrous for the federal minister to parrot tar sands lobbyists by directly attacking our communities that have decided the Enbridge project is too dangerous, and against our laws,” said Nooski. “We’re not foreign – these are our lands. To imply that our decision against Enbridge has been manipulated is deeply disrespectful of First Nations people, and our many neighbours who have joined our cause and support our decision to refuse this pipeline.”