More than 100 First Nations have signed Save the Fraser Declaration
More First Nations joined the fray over Northern Gateway as chiefs gathered Friday to sign the Save the Fraser Declaration, which “bans” the pipeline from their traditional territories.
First Nations from Alberta and the Northwest Territories attended the event in Edmonton, where the National Energy Board review panel investigating the environmental impacts of the project has been holding the latest of a series of controversial public hearings.
The Save the Fraser Declaration asserts First Nations title to traditional territories and the importance of the Fraser River to local economies and cultures. ”We will not allow the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, or similar Tar Sands projects, to cross our lands, territories and watersheds, or the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon,” it says.
More than 100 First Nations in in BC, Alberta and the NWT have now signed the Declaration, which was created in 2010 by the the Yinka Dene Alliance of northern BC. The Alliance is made up of six First Nations (Nadleh Whut’en, Saik’uz, Takla Lake, Nak’azdli, Wet’suwet’en and Tlazt’en Nations).
“A rupture in the Northern Gateway pipeline could also affect us because the water comes north. People in the north get their drinking water directly from the rivers and streams,” said Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus. ”Our downstream communities have already experienced impacts from the ruptured Enbridge Norman Wells pipeline in the NWT, which is still being cleaned.”
New Signatories to the Declaration include Dene Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Swan River First Nation, Smith’s Landing First Nation, Katlodeeche First Nation, Liidlii Kue First Nation, Deh Gah Got’ie First Nation, Dene Tha’ First Nation, and Deh Cho First Nations.
“The Harper government has made clear that they plan to ram the Enbridge pipeline and tankers through. He wants to sacrifice First Nations once again for this tar sands poison,” said Yinka Dene Alliance Chief Jackie “We will stop them,” said Yinka Dene Alliance Chief Jackie Thomas, who attended the signing ceremony.
The signing of this Declaration comes after chiefs, elders and community leaders from various communities presented oral evidence to the review panel. Testimony echoed First Nations in BC and described the serious concerns many communities have about the proposed route of the pipeline and its close proximity to waterways, culturally-sensitive areas and traditional hunting, fishing and gathering sites in the province.
“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,” said 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.”
Northern Gateway is a proposed $5.5 billion, 1,177 kilometre twin pipeline from Bruderheim, AB, and a marine terminal near Kitimat, BC that would carry oil sands bitumen to a marine terminal, where it would be shipped by supertanker to Asian markets. The project is highly controversial. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has declared Northern Gateway and opening Asia to the Alberta oil sands to be in the “national interest,” which opponents say undermines the integrity of the review process.
Category: First Nations
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Markham began his journalism career writing columns in the mid-1980s for Western People Magazine, then reported for a small Saskatchewan daily. He has spent most of his career in media and communications, likes to dabble in politics, was actively involved in economic development for many years, thinks that what goes on in the community is just as important as what happens provincially and nationally, and has a soft spot for small business (big business, not so much). Markham is a bit of a contrarian and usually has a unique take on the events of the day.