Friday, December 02, 2011

First Nations in Occupied Canada to Defend Their Territories Against Canada and Oil Corporations through "an unbroken wall of opposition"

Describing their opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project as an unbreakable wall, native leaders say they will physically block the project if regulators allow it to proceed. Announcing their alliance under the "Save the Fraser[River] Declaration" read full Declaration here, First Nations across British Columbis affirmed their opposition to the Gateway pipeline.

Indigenous peoples, such as the Yinka Dene Alliance and Coastal First Nations, have said they will not support the project under any circumstances."We have banned oil pipelines and tankers using our laws, and we will defend our decision using all the means at our disposal," said Chief Jackie Thomas of Saik'uz First Nation, a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance. “I am going to stand in front of bulldozers to stop this project, and I expect my neighbours to join me,” Thomas said on Thursday when asked what will happen if regulators approve the proposed pipeline.

The declaration is another political blow to the Canadian energy sector and Canada's right-of-center Conservative government after Washington decided last month to delay approving a pipeline carrying oil sands crude to the Gulf Coast.

It adds to the uncertainty over Enbridge Inc's planned C$5.5 billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline, which would move 525,000 barrels a day of tar sands-derived oil 1,177 km (731 miles) to the Pacific port of Kitimat, British Columbia.

Aboriginal groups, also known as First Nations, say they fear the consequences of a spill from the pipeline, which would pass through some of Canada's most spectacular mountain landscape. They also oppose the idea of shipping oil from British Columbia ports.

"First Nations, whose unceded territory encompasses the entire coastline of British Columbia, have formed a united front, banning all exports of tar sands crude oil through their territories," more than 60 aboriginal groups said in a statement.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the Northern Gateway - which would open up a new supply route to Asia - is important for Canada, especially after the United States delay to approval of TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL pipeline.

Washington announced the delay after a high-profile protest campaign against oil sands crude, which requires large amounts of energy to produce.

Aboriginal opposition is one of the biggest risks to Enbridge in its efforts to move Northern Gateway forward. The company has offered native groups equity stakes in the pipeline as well as large sums of money for community development.

Enbridge spokesman Paul Stanway said the affair had to be handled by government and regulators rather than by the company. "This is a ban that would have serious implications for the entire province of British Columbia," he said.

For more information: Save the Fraser River