Lheidli T’enneh Territory, Prince George, BC – Feb. 4, 2020) – The Canadian Federal Court of Appeal has released its decision today regarding the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX). Several First Nations in BC (Coldwater Indian Band, Squamish Nation, Tsleil Waututh Nation, and Stolo communities – Aitchelitz, Skowkale, Shxwha:y Village, Soowahlie, Squiala First Nations, Tzeachten and Yakweakwioose) sought to overturn the government’s decision to approve the TMX project. The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the case brought forward by these First Nations and decided that the consultation with these First Nations was adequate.
“Key to this decision is whether First Nations rights, title and decision-making authorities are being honoured. It is critical in the future that we find common ground on future resource projects with processes and standards that protect First Nations ways of life, as well reflect our responsibility to mother earth, our ancestors and future generations,” stated Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “The cultures and livelihoods of First Nations are at stake and we will be vigilant to ensure the commitments for economic benefits and environmental protections, as well as other conditions, are fulfilled.”
Many First Nations in BC, and across Canada, are focusing on green projects and investing in renewable energy as the global economy slowly moves away from investments in non-renewable, carbon intensive resource sectors. This transformative role of First Nations in the economy strives to be innovative and forward-thinking.
“Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into federal law is a key legal tool for assuring that Canada is respecting and protecting the human rights of First Nations peoples in Canada,” further stated Regional Chief Teegee. “Securing the free, prior and informed consent of First Nations in BC and Canada will involve comprehensive approaches to prevent injustice and find creative solutions to these fundamental ethical dilemmas that are deeply fracturing our communities and Canadian society.”
The TMX is an expansion of an existing oil pipeline originating in Edmonton, ending in Burnaby, with an expected seven-fold increase in tanker traffic (from 5 to 35 Aframax-size tankers per month). There are over 35 First Nations in BC impacted by the pipeline component of the project, and many others impacted by the marine shipping component. Two years ago, the federal government of Canada purchased the TMX from Kinder Morgan Inc. for $4.5 billion, shortly thereafter the Federal Court of Appeal overthrew the approval of the project. It is a contentious project amongst Canadians, including First Nations, as there are opposing perspectives on the future value of the project.