Nations Reject Company's Latest Tar Sands Pipeline Financial Package, Citing the Risk of Oil Spills, and Taking Company to Task for Lack of Respect for Their Rights
PRINCE GEORGE, BRITISH COLUMBIA and LHEIDLI, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 16, 2011) - Last night at a public meeting in Prince George, the five First Nations of the Yinka Dene Alliance told Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines President John Carruthers that they categorically reject the company's revenue-sharing offer.
Tuesday night's rejection responds to the more detailed financial and job offer Enbridge set out last week. The decision is especially significant because the five Nations' traditional territories cover approximately one quarter of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline route.
"Our Nations will not be turned. We won't trade the safety of our rivers, lands and fish that are our lifeblood," said Chief Jackie Thomas of Saik'uz. "Enbridge knows it can't guarantee there will be no oil spills into our rivers. Their promises and their money are no good to us."
In recent weeks Enbridge officials have attempted to minimize the importance of First Nations' opposition to their project, suggesting that these communities are in the minority. Earlier in February, at a public meeting in Terrace, BC, Enbridge officials refused to answer when asked directly whether the company would comply with the decision of First Nations to reject their pipeline project.
Chief Thomas told Enbridge's president: "Enbridge's recent statements suggest to us that you hope to ignore the will of our Nations. Our Nations are becoming more and more frustrated at the lack of respect that's shown for our laws, authority and rights. Because you claim to respect our legal rights, but push ahead despite our clearly saying no, you've made it more and more difficult for us to accept your word. It's simple – if Enbridge respects our protocols and our laws, then it must abide by our decision."
"Over 80 First Nations in BC have stated that they are totally opposed to Enbridge's proposed pipelines," said Chief Larry Nooski of Nadleh Whut'en. "People shouldn't be fooled by Enbridge's claim that we are in the minority. Nations along more than half of Enbridge's proposed pipeline and tanker route have made clear that their project is against our laws. It will hurt us and hurt First Nations who live near the nightmare of the tar sands. This project is not going to happen and we'll use all the means we have under our laws to fight it."
Enbridge has made numerous statements to national and regional media lately about its plans to have First Nations borrow money in order to purchase a small fraction of the pipeline.
"Enbridge is talking a lot about doing deals, saying Nations should be proud about taking their money," says Chief Thomas. "We've seen it before. History is full of bad deals – often made when Indigenous Nations felt they had no other choice. We have a choice and we won't sign away our future, and the safety of our waters and lands, to Enbridge. Taking cash to compromise our kids' futures is nothing to be proud of."
The Yinka Dene Alliance includes Nadleh Whut'en, Nak'azdli, Takla Lake, Saik'uz, and Wet'suwet'en First Nations, and is a leader in the Save the Fraser Declaration, uniting Nations in the Fraser River watershed from the headwaters to the coast in banning the transportation of oil sands crude through their territories.
Contact Information: Yinka Dene Alliance
Chief Larry Nooski
Chief Jackie Thomas