Enbridge court argument claiming Aboriginal support called 'delusional'

First Nations opposition to Northern Gateway is broad and deep, say leaders, and Enbridge has no right to try to speak on their behalf.

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip at a 2014 Vancouver media briefing about several new Enbridge lawsuits filed by B.C. First Nations. File photo by Mychaylo Prystupa

First Nations leaders across the province are reacting with anger and disbelief today after learning Enbridge has claimed in court that most impacted Aboriginal groups support its Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers proposal.

In documents recently filed with the Federal Court of Appeal, Northern Gateway is attempting to speak on behalf of First Nations, say First Nations leaders, which is not only disrespectful but proof that the company’s claim is out of touch with reality.

“Let’s be clear, First Nations have overwhelmingly rejected the Northern Gateway project,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said in a press release Monday. “When Enbridge chooses to join us in the real world it will see there’s a wall of deeply committed First Nations that have said Northern Gateway is never going to happen.”

First Nations whose territories comprise a majority of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker routes, and many downstream First Nations potentially impacted by the threat of oil spills, have publically declared opposition to the project, yet Northern Gateway claims in its written argument to the court that: “Most affected Aboriginal groups are supportive of the Project and are looking forward to the social and economic benefits it will bring if allowed to proceed.”

“It is completely inappropriate for Northern Gateway to purport to speak to a court on behalf of First Nations in such a self-serving manner,” said Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit. “This is another unfortunate example of Northern Gateway trying to charge ahead without regard for the clear rejection of the project by First Nations.”

The members of both the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit have passed resolutions in opposition to Northern Gateway. Chief Karen Ogen emphasized on behalf of the Yinka Dene Alliance that the First Nations in court against Northern Gateway have broad support.

"We stand with the representatives of more than 100 First Nations that have signed the Save the Fraser Declaration rejecting Northern Gateway, and fully support the members of the Yinka Dene Alliance and other First Nations in court challenging the project."

The 18 consolidated legal challenges to the federal approval of Northern Gateway are scheduled to be heard at the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver on Oct. 1-2 and 5-8. 

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