First Nations leaders urge natives and non-natives to unite against Northern Gateway

A Protest sign hangs from a building in the town of Kitimat, British Columbia, April 12, 2014. Residents of the town voted against the Northern Gateway pipeline project in a blow to Enbridge Inc’s efforts to expedite the flow of crude from Canada’s landlocked oil sands to high-paying markets in Asia. Photo taken April 12, 2014.

A Protest sign hangs from a building in the town of Kitimat, British Columbia, April 12, 2014. Residents of the town voted against the Northern Gateway pipeline project in a blow to Enbridge Inc’s efforts to expedite the flow of crude from Canada’s landlocked oil sands to high-paying markets in Asia. Photo taken April 12, 2014.

 

Globe and Mail Jun. 17 2014

The federal government’s decision to go ahead with the Northern Gateway pipeline brought chiefs and elders to tears when news reached them at a scientific conference on ocean health in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Shaking with anger, their voices trembling with emotion, native leaders brought the conference to a standstill Tuesday as they spoke of their dismay over the decision – and of their commitment to fight to stop the project from ever getting built.

“Pretty shocking … it’s a tough, tough piece of news,” said Wigvilhba Wakas, a hereditary chief of the Heiltsuk Nation.

“We see this all over the world, where corporate interests are overriding the interests of the people,” said Guujaaw, past president of the Council of Haida Nation and one of the top political leaders among native people in B.C.

“It’s way out of control and it’s probably going to take decisions like this for people to stand up [together]. I think this is a test of humanity now to stand up and fight back,” he said.

Wickaninish, former president of the Nuu-Chah-nulth Tribal Coucil, said the federal government had made “an ominous decision” that he hoped would unite native and non-native people in a common cause, as the battle over Clayoquot Sound did in his traditional territory on Vancouver Island, where mass arrests stopped logging near Tofino.

“This is not just an Indian fight … it’s all the people,” he said.

Wahmeesh, vice-President of the Nuu-Chah-nulth, said he felt an emotional blow when he heard the decision, which spread around the conference as participants read the news bulletins on their smartphones.

“My heart kind of sank, like I’d lost somebody. Like a death in the family,” he said.

Wahmeesh said he was going to return to the Nuu-Chah-nulth, a large collection of 14 tribes on the west coast of Vancouver Island, for an urgent meeting on the pipeline project. And he promised that the chiefs would be united in pledging support to those tribes along the pipeline route across Northern B.C.

“This is probably the biggest decision this government will ever make in my lifetime [affecting First Nations],” he said, struggling to find a way to describe the magnitude of the decision.

Wahmeesh echoed those who urged a coalition between native and non-native people to fight the pipeline.

“We’ll stand together as Canadians,” he said.

Margaret Edgars, an elder from the Haida Nation, was in tears as she spoke to the gathering of scientists and native leaders from Alaska, B.C., Washington, Oregon and California who had gathered for a conference to discuss the resurgence of sea otters on the West Coast.

“I was hurt a bit when I heard it,” she said of the news of Ottawa’s support for the project. “But with everyone speaking out about it here I’m feeling a little stronger. … I think we’ve had enough of what they’re doing. It’s time to stand together united. … We have to continue with the fight.”

After Alaskan delegates had reminded the gathering of the long, enduring impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Ms. Edgars said tankers pose too great a risk to coastal B.C.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/first-nations-leaders-urge-natives-and-non-natives-to-unite-against-northern-gateway/article19214189/?cmpid=rss1

Majority of British Columbians oppose Northern Gateway pipeline: poll

 

Dogwood Initiative executive director Will Horter said pipeline opposition is always stronger in polls when tanker routes and the possibility of oils spills are mentioned as part of the Northern Gateway project.Photograph by: JONATHAN HAYWARD , THE CANADIAN PRESS

Dogwood Initiative executive director Will Horter said pipeline opposition is always stronger in polls when tanker routes and the possibility of oils spills are mentioned as part of the Northern Gateway project.
Photograph by: JONATHAN HAYWARD , THE CANADIAN PRESS

Results not surprising in survey commissioned by environmental groups

By Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun February 5, 2014

Nearly two thirds of British Columbians are opposed to the $6.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline and the tankers it will bring to the northern coast, according to a poll commissioned by environmental groups.

Conducted between Jan. 13-19, the Justason Market Intelligence poll of 600 people also found that 64 per cent (the same number that are opposed) believe the project will definitely or probably be built. The margin of error of the combined telephone and online poll is plus or minus four per cent.

The survey showed that 92 per cent were aware of the project, which will carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to Kitimat for transport by tanker overseas to open up Asian markets.

The poll was commissioned by the Dogwood Initiative, ForestEthics Advocacy, Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research and West Coast Environmental Law.

The Enbridge pipeline project received approval last month from a joint panel federal review of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Several First Nations and environmental groups have already launched court action against the panel decision.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has until the middle of this year to grant approval.

The findings showed that four times as many of those surveyed “strongly” oppose the project (50 per cent) than who “strongly” support the project (12 per cent). Another 17 per cent somewhat support the project.

The majority-opposition finding is not an unusual for a poll commissioned by environmental groups, which generally highlight in their questions the introduction of super tankers and the possibility of oil spills.

Dogwood Initiative executive director Will Horter said opposition is always stronger in polls when tankers are mentioned as part of the Northern Gateway project.

“People have very strong concerns about oil pipelines, but have deep, deep concerns about the oil tankers,” said Horter.

Business and industry-commissioned polls, which tend to highlight the economic benefits of Northern Gateway, usually find higher support for the project.

A B.C. Chamber of Commerce-commissioned poll released in December found nearly 50 per cent support for Northern Gateway.

The Justason poll also found that 51 per cent distrust the joint review panel process, while 32 per cent trusted it.

If Premier Christy Clark’s five conditions for supporting heavy oil being transported through B.C. are met, 49 per cent said they would be a lot or a little bit more supportive of the project.

The B.C. Chamber poll had found that should the project meet the five conditions, support increased to 63 per cent.

Clark’s conditions include the passing of an environmental review, creating world-leading marine and land spill prevention and recovery systems, addressing First Nations’ rights and receiving a fair share of economic benefits.

ghoekstra@vancouversun.com

Follow me: @Gordon_Hoekstra

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