Oil Sands: First Nations Youth Warns CIBC to Back Off Financing for Enbridge

BC First Nations tell banks: "Respect our rights, don't participate in projects that put our communities at risk without our consent"

WINNIPEG, TREATY ONE FIRST NATIONS TERRITORIES, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - April 28, 2011) - First Nations youth leader, Jasmine Thomas, age 24, is attending CIBC's annual meeting in Winnipeg today to warn shareholders and executives: Do not finance Enbridge or its Northern Gateway Pipeline project, since Enbridge fails to respect the authority of First Nations along the proposed pipeline route.

Thomas represents the five First Nations of the Yinka Dene Alliance in British Columbia. Over the past month, the Yinka Dene Alliance has issued similar warnings to five banks, with direct appeals to shareholders and executives of CIBC, TD, Scotiabank and BMO, as well as the Royal Bank of Scotland – all of which are major financiers to Enbridge. Local First Nations members and environmental activists gathered outside the meeting to support the Yinka Dene's message, greeting CIBC shareholders with a banner stating "No Pipelines Without Consent" and handing out leaflets taking the bank to task for its support of Enbridge, whose CEO Patrick Daniel sits on CIBC's board.

"CIBC needs to behave ethically and stop raising money for Enbridge, which intends to bring destructive tar sands pipelines through our lands even though we have said "no". Their pipeline would violate our human rights and harm my people," said Thomas. "CIBC should not make money from business with Enbridge, whose proposed pipeline will result in oil spills that threaten our Salmon economy, our water security and our cultural foundation."

Since 2007, CIBC has raised more than US$1 billion for Enbridge, Inc., the general partner in Northern Gateway Pipelines. These pipelines would transport toxic crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands to the Pacific north coast, where it will be transported through some of the world's most dangerous waters on more than 220 massive supertankers per year. According to Enbridge's own reports, the company had nearly 700 oil spills from 1999 to 2009, not including the massive Kalamazoo spill in Michigan last year. Approximately one quarter of the proposed oil sands pipeline route from Alberta to BC would pass through traditional territories of the Yinka Dene Nations, and more than 50% of the combined pipeline and tanker route is through the lands and waters of opposed First Nations. If approved, Enbridge would likely go to Canadian banks like CIBC to raise capital.

In a letter sent to CIBC on March 10, 2011, the Yinka Dene Alliance called on the bank to make business decisions in a way that respects the international standard that First Nations must give free, prior, and informed consent to projects that will affect their land and resources. TD Bank and RBC have already moved to recognize these rights and to consider whether First Nations have provided consent when they make their financing decisions. Enbridge fails to recognize this right and has stated it intends proceed with the Northern Gateway project, with or without First Nations consent.

Jasmine Thomas added: "CIBC should catch up with Royal Bank and TD Bank, which have already committed to recognize our right to consent."

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 (http://savethefraser.ca/), uniting Nations in the Fraser River watershed from the headwaters to the coast in banning the transportation of oil sands crude through their territories. They are joined in opposing the Enbridge project by over 75% of British Columbians who have declared themselves opposed to oil tankers on the north coast in several polls.

Contact Information:

Yinka Dene Alliance
Jasmine Thomas
Youth Organizer

Yinka Dene Alliance
Geraldine Thomas-Flurer