LAX KW’ALAAMS, BC, May 12, 2017 /CNW/ – As Chiefs from British Columbia and Alberta we are very disappointed with the inappropriate actions taken today by Prime Minister Trudeau and the Federal Government by introducing a tanker ban on Canada’s west coast. We feel strongly that a blanket tanker moratorium is not the answer. Once again, government and international environmental lobby groups want to make decisions for our communities instead of us letting us make them.
The Government of Canada should accept the analysis of affected coastal First Nations rather than put in place a blanket Tanker Moratorium, especially for First Nations led projects. We believe a First Nations process should be implemented to help determine what resource projects can be developed on our lands and what products can be shipped off of our coast lines.
To be clear; there has been insufficient consultation for the proposed Tanker Moratorium and it does not have our consent. As Indigenous peoples, we want to preserve the right to determine the types of activities that take place in our territories and do not accept that the federal government should tell us how to preserve, protect, and work within our traditional territories.
Prime Minister Trudeau committed to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which combined with Section 35 of the Constitution means that the Government of Canada has a commitment to achieve free, prior and informed consent of Aboriginal groups in several instances, including for the approval of any projects affecting Aboriginal lands or territories.
We will not support projects that endanger our communities and the environment; however, we do believe environmental protection and responsible economic development is possible. This ill-conceived legislation puts the prosperity and the future of our people, particularly our youth, in jeopardy.
Once again the federal government is not respecting nation-to-nation dialogue and consultation and is forging ahead on proposals without the consent of many Indigenous communities. We urge the Prime Minister to live up to the commitments he has made to Indigenous Peoples. The Chief’s Council will continue to study this legislation and our options and will have more to say in the days to come.
Eagle Spirit Energy is a First Nations led energy corridor proposal developed out of a sense of responsibility to the environment and a commitment to ensure that all affected communities are involved in the development of a safe and successful project. The project includes the Chief’s Council with elected co-chairs from BC and Alberta, and representatives from all the Indigenous communities that would be impacted by the project. This project differs from other pipeline proposals; it is not a large company asking for First Nations support by negotiating an impact benefit agreement. Being truly First Nations led, it is a model for future energy project development.