Gatineau, Quebec, May 2, 2018 –First Nation Chiefs from across Canada, gathered at a special assembly of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) on unceded Algonquin territory, said today that without consent from local First Nations in British Columbia, there will be no Kinder Morgan pipeline.
With around 100 First Nations in BC affected by the pipeline, only 30 have agreements with the company and more than two thirds have not provided any form of consent. Seven have filed legal challenges to the project. In addition, 150 Indigenous Nations in Canada and the US have signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion in opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline and all other attempts to allow more tar sands production, including Enbridge’s Line 3 and TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipelines.
“First Nations around Canada support the right of BC First Nations who are opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline and directly impacted by spills to say no. Without their consent there can be no pipeline” said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Sheila North.
She added the pipeline would mean more tar sands expansion that will impact First Nations everywhere by fueling climate change. “In Northern Manitoba our winter roads are already threatened, our infrastructure built on the permafrost is jeopardized and spring flooding is getting more out of control.”
While a few First Nations in BC vocally support the project, others who have deals with Kinder Morgan say they had no choice, either out of desperate economic necessity or because they were told the pipeline would be built whether they objected to it or not.
“If we cannot have a say as to what goes on in our territories, free from economic coercion and threats, particularly in the case of dangerous projects like Kinder Morgan, Canada cannot say that it respects the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band, which is part of the Secwepemc Nation in BC whose territory much of the pipeline would need to pass through. “Now, thanks to federal government whistleblowers, there is clear evidence that the Trudeau government had already secretly approved the pipeline while continuing to go through the motions of consulting First Nations. The Treaty Alliance joins calls for an independent investigation into the rigged approval process.”
As part of the “Kwekwecnewtxw - Protect the Inlet” project by Coast Salish water protectors, who built a traditional Watch House in the path of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, some 200 people have already been arrested blocking Kinder Morgan’s gates on Burnaby Mountain. Behind them stand over twenty thousand Coast Protectors who have signed up to do whatever it takes to stop the project. And a recent poll even suggests that 12% of British Columbians are ready to engage in civil disobedience to stop the project.
“We have built a beautiful movement against Kinder Morgan that is Indigenous-led and most often women-led, while also bringing together British Columbians and Canadians from all backgrounds” said Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC). “No amount of public money or private money is going to save the Kinder Morgan project – trust us when we say, it will not be built.”
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