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Kitimat and First Nations react angrily to Northern Gateway's approval

Groups representing northern pipeline and coastal communities spoke up against about Ottawa's move.

Kitimat citizens opposed to Northern Gateway - photo by Cheryl Brown
Northern citizens gave a noisy welcome for Premier Christy Clark today in Kitimat - photo by Cheryl Brown

From Vancouver to Kitimat -- protests, court challenges, and emotional promises to stop the pipeline are flowing in from across the province, in reaction to the Harper government's approval of Northern Gateway.

“We will not stand idly by, and be steamrolled," said a visibly angry Grand Chief Stewart Phillip with the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, in a live televised in Vancouver interview minutes after the decision.

“We will do whatever is necessary," said the outspoken Aboriginal leader, in response to a question about whether "civil disorder" might ensue.  

The Grand Chief said his organization would "immediately go to court to vigorously pursue all lawful means."  He and others leaders have also long said, B.C. Aboriginal people would "stand in front of bulldozers" to stop the project.  

'It's a slap in the face'

Likewise in Kitimat, the spokesperson for local environmental group -- Douglas Channel Watch -- did not mince words.

"There's a sickening feeling that Stephen Harper has not listened to the people of B.C.," said Patricia Lange from Kitimat.

"Of course it's a slap in the face.  But we did not expect that [the Harper government] would pass this.  [But] they have underestimated the power of the combined opposition to this project," she added.

Kitimat citizen Patricia Lange - Douglas Channel Watch - Mychaylo Prystupa

Kitimat citizen Patricia Lange - Douglas Channel Watch - at a Monday press conference in Vancouver - photo by Mychaylo Prystupa


The industrial community voted 59% against the project in an April plebiscite, and today, many citizens staged a noisy protest as Premier Clark arrived for an unrelated announcement.

"We encouraged her to stand strong.  We're letting her know, that she needs to thnk about the people in B.C. in terms of her decision making," said Lange.

"The plebiscite was a signal of hope to the rest of B.C."

Haisla Elected Chief Councillor Ellis Ross and BC Premier Christy Clark Kitimat

Haisla Elected Chief Councillor Ellis Ross and BC Premier Christy Clark Kitimat on Tuesday - photo by Robin Rowland.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark eventually said that Northern Gateway still does not have her approval.

“We settled the five conditions, they're very clear, they've been on the table for a very long time now.  It is up to the proponent in the private sector to figure how, if and when they’re going to be able to meet them. None of them have yet," said Clark from Kitimat.

Standing at her side, was Haisla Elected Chief Councillor Ellis Ross - a long-time vocal opponent to Northern Gateway, but not LNG development.

"One of the five conditions is that Aboriginal interests are met.  On behalf of the Haisla, I can say that one of the conditions that without a doubt that has gone wrong. The rest of the conditions are up to B.C."

Art Sterritt - Coastal First Nations - Mychaylo Prystupa

Art Sterritt at a Vancovuer press conferene on Monday - Mychaylo Prystupa


Tough talk

Coastal First Nations leader Art Sterrit was far more threatening:

“We’ll see if Enbridge dares to put its shovels in the ground,” said Sterritt in a statment.

“First Nations and our allies will protect our rights and the interests of future generations. We will never allow oil tankers into our territorial waters.”

For her part, Kitimat's Mayor said:

"Our community is going to have to hold [the government's] feet to the fire, and see that all 209 conditions and stipulations, and the five that the province has been given, are taken care of," said Joanne Monaghan, from Kitimat.

"Then we can take a look at it," she added.

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