VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA/COAST SALISH TERRITORY–(Marketwired – Oct. 10, 2013) – The Yinka Dene Alliance (YDA) met in Vancouver today with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, to present evidence that Canada and British Columbia would be breaching international law if they approve Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal over YDA’s strong and clearly expressed opposition.
YDA is an alliance of six First Nations whose members’ territories make up 25% of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline route.
“The standard in international law is that our free, prior and informed consent must be obtained for Canada or BC to approve resource projects in our territories,” said Chief Fred Sam of Nak’azdli First Nation, who attended the meeting with Mr. Anaya. “I can’t think of a clearer way to say ‘no’ to Northern Gateway than what the Yinka Dene Alliance has done”.
YDA was the driving force behind the Save the Fraser Declaration, which bans the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and similar tar sands projects from the Fraser River watershed as a matter of Indigenous law and has been signed by representatives of more than 160 First Nations. YDA has been working to enforce its ban on Northern Gateway through actions such as sending a cease and desist order to Enbridge and installing No Trespassing signs directed at Enbridge in key locations in their territories. YDA’s meeting with Mr. Anaya, which follows a detailed written submission YDA made to the Special Rapporteur in September, expands their enforcement actions into the international arena.
“We had a positive meeting with Mr. Anaya,” said Geraldine Thomas Flurer, YDA Coordinator. “He listened intently to our message and we hope that he will act on it by telling Canada and BC that they would violate international law if they approved Northern Gateway in the face of our absolute rejection of the project”.
The Special Rapporteur has a mandate from the UN Human Rights Council that includes inquiring into alleged breaches of Indigenous rights and freedoms in international law and making recommendations to governments to prevent and remedy violations. The Special Rapporteur met with YDA as part of his ongoing official visit to Canada, which will conclude on October 15. Mr. Anaya will make a public report of the findings from his visit, which he will present to Canada and the UN Human Rights Council.
Chief Fred Sam
Yinka Dene Alliance
Geraldine Thomas Flurer