In response to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency releasing the Terms of Reference for the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline and tanker project to BC’s Coast, Eric Swanson of Dogwood Initiative has this to say:

“This process never asks British Columbians if we even want to accept the risk of an Exxon Valdez-sized spill on our north coast.”

“If it did, Canadian taxpayers could save a lot of money, because 72% of British Columbians are opposed to oil tanker traffic on our north coast (Synovate, 2008)”

“Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel visited BC’s coast this summer, and accounts are he heard a chorus of ‘No and Never’ from Coastal First Nations, and there are Interior Nations that are saying the same.”

“We support those First Nations in BC that are demanding the government of Canada recognize their constiutional right to Aboriginal Governance”

Please refer to the following news release from the Nadleh Whut’en, which we are circulating at their request.

Dec. 4, 2009

For Immediate Release

Nadleh Whut’en Territory (Fort Fraser, BC) – Today’s announcement of the finalization of the Joint Review Panel Agreement for the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is a step in the wrong direction and will not deliver the certainty sought by Enbridge and the federal government with respect to Aboriginal rights and title.

“People need to know that any project that enters this federal process has a more than 99% chance of getting approved,” said Chief Larry Nooski. “To Nadleh Whut’en, this is not an open and transparent process, it is not real governance or decision-making, but it is a direct infringement of our constitutional right to Aboriginal governance.”

Nadleh Whut’en has been proposing a parallel Aboriginal rights and title process for four years with both Enbridge and the federal government, both of whom have flat-out rejected the proposals.  Recent court cases on Aboriginal rights have strongly indicated that there must be consultation on the review process itself, where large projects such as the Enbridge pipeline are concerned.  The courts have also indicated that Aboriginal rights are not limited to hunting and fishing, but to governance over lands not ceded to the Crown.

“We want to send a clear message to potential investors in this project that the federal government cannot be trusted to properly address Aboriginal rights and title issues,” said Nooski.  “This blatant disregard for our traditional governance processes will continue to pose a major legal risk to the project’s viability.”

Nadleh Whut’en territory is located in the Northern interior of BC, between Fraser Lake and Babine Lake.  The Enbridge pipelines propose to cross approximately 50km of Nadleh Whut’en territory, including a crossing of the Sutherland River, a significant habitat for numerous types of fish.  Nadleh Whut’en environmental concerns are well documented in the 2006 Aboriginal Interests and Use Study (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council).

Chief Nooski concluded: “Our territory has never been surrendered to the Crown. We are seeking a true government-to-government process with the federal government for the review of the Enbridge project.  We are prepared to defend our rights and title through all necessary means, including through the Canadian courts.”


Tara Marsden
Project Director for the Enbridge Pipeline – 250-614-3317

Chief Larry Nooski – 250-690-7211