Yinka Dene Alliance

First Nations Challenge Constitutionality of Harper Government’s Decision on Northern Gateway

July 14, 2014

Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory – In a wave of legal proceedings filed today in the Federal Court of Appeal, First Nations from Haida Gwaii to Yinka Dene territory west of Prince George have sought leave from the Federal Court of Appeal to challenge the Harper Government’s decision to conditionally approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway tankers and pipeline project. The legal proceedings seek to overturn the Enbridge approval on the basis of the federal government’s failure to meet its constitutional duties to the respective First Nations.

Today the Haisla, Gitxaala, Haida, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli peoples issued the following joint statement:

“Today and on July 11th, we have commenced legal challenges to the Harper Government’s June 16th decision to approve Enbridge’s Northern Gateway tankers and pipelines project in the face of our unceded Aboriginal Title and Rights.

We have governed our lands, in accordance to our Indigenous laws, since time immemorial.  Our inherent Title and Rights and out legal authority over our respective territories have never been surrendered.

On June 26th, the Supreme Court of Canada issued their decision in Tsilhqot’in which recognizes the existence of Aboriginal Title in BC. Due to this decision, the federal government is now required to seek the consent of First Nations on any decision that will impact our respective territories.

The Enbridge project will expose all communities from Alberta to the Pacific Coast to the undeniable risk of pipeline and supertanker oil spills.  First Nations and British Columbians believe this is simply an unacceptable risk to the environment, health, and safety of all citizens in this Province.

We will use all lawful means to defend our lands and waters from this risky project. Today’s legal filings are a crucial step toward ensuring that our territories can continue to sustain this and future generations, for our nations and for all peoples.”

Contacts:
Chief Martin Louie, Nadleh Whut’en First Nation: 250-570-7759

Chief Councillor Ellis Ross, Haisla Nation: 250-639-9361

Acting Chief Councillor Clarence Innis, Gitxaala: 604-760-4366

Councillor Jessie Housty, Heiltsuk Tribal Council, 250-957-8175

Patrick Shannon, Council of the Haida Nation Communications: 250-559-4468

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs: 250-490-5314

Colin Braker, First Nations Summit: 604-926-9903

Courtney Daws, BC Assembly of First Nations: 604-922-7733

For more information, click here to read a legal backgrounder prepared by West Coast Environmental Law.