January 27, 2012
EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Jan. 27, 2012) - This afternoon, First Nations from Alberta & the Northwest Territories added their names and support to a formal declaration opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and supertankers project. In signing the Save the Fraser Declaration - a formal legal declaration that protects the world's most critical salmon rivers, and the Pacific North Coast, from the threat of oil spills posed by the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline and supertankers.
The Yinka Dene Alliance, which is made up of 6 Nations (Nadleh Whut'en, Saik'uz, Takla Lake, Nak'azdli, Wet'suwet'en and Tlazt'en Nations) in northern British Columbia led the creation of the Declaration in 2010. Since then, First Nations signing onto this opposition of the proposed Enbridge pipeline and tankers has snowballed to more than 100 First Nations in BC, Alberta and the NWT.
Members of the Yinka Dene Alliance including Chief Jackie Thomas traveled to Edmonton for a signing ceremony to welcome the support of Alberta & NWT 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 Chief Jackie Thomas of Saik'uz First Nation. "We will stop them."
The signing of this Declaration comes after a long week of Chiefs, Elders and community leaders from various communities presenting oral evidence to the Enbridge Joint Review Panel here in Edmonton. Testimony given by various communities in Alberta echoed Nations in BC and outlined the serious concerns many First Nation 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.
Alberta First Nations affected by tar sands developments - and also living downstream of the proposed Enbridge pipeline route and possible pipeline oil spills - committed to helping the Yinka Dene Alliance and BC First Nations to protect their lands.
"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," stated 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."
The Save the Fraser Declaration recognizes the connection to tar sands expansion projects and criticizes the federal process to approve the pipeline. The Declaration states, "This project would link the Tar Sands to Asia through our territories and the headwaters of this great river, and the federal process to approve it, violate our laws, traditions, values and our inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples under international law…"
"Our downstream communities have already experienced impacts from the ruptured Enbridge Norman Wells pipeline in the NWT, which is still being cleaned," stated Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus. "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."
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.
Yinka Dene Alliance
Chief Jackie Thomas
Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
Chief Allan Adam
Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus