Nation seeks official process to have its rights upheld, voice heard
NORTH VANCOUVER, BC, Nov. 8, 2012 /CNW/ - Tsleil-Waututh Nation is calling on Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver for informed, meaningful government-to-government consultation on Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline proposal. The Nation wrote to the Minister responsible for the National Energy Board (NEB) this week seeking a process to ensure its voice is heard and its constitutionally guaranteed rights are upheld.
The Nation holds aboriginal rights and title to its territory, which includes Burrard Inlet on which Kinder Morgan's pipeline terminates. Its people stand to be impacted by the pipeline's expansion.
"The government has a legal obligation to consult with First Nations but there is currently no mechanism for that consultation to take place," says Chief Justin George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation. "This project is one of many energy projects in British Columbia that have the potential to impact aboriginal rights and titles. We need to get the process of engagement right or each project will encounter the same challenges."
Tsleil-Waututh was recently denied intervenor status in the upcoming NEB Commercial Tolling Application hearing, the first official government process to review the pipeline proposal.
The NEB alleges that it cannot maintain quasi-judicial objectivity and engage with First Nations in consultation. They rely upon project proponents, such as Kinder Morgan, to carry out the Crown's responsibility to share information, identify impacts, and propose mitigation.
This policy is contrary to relevant Supreme Court of Canada decisions and relegates First Nations to the status of stakeholders, as opposed to self-governing entities holding constitutionally protected rights and titles.
"The NEB cannot delegate the government's legal obligation for consultation to Kinder Morgan," continues Chief Justin George. "If the NEB cannot engage First Nations, then it is incumbent on the Minister to establish a parallel process that will ensure that direct input from First Nations is considered throughout the NEB decision-making process."
Tsleil-Waututh is adamantly opposed to Kinder Morgan's proposal to twin its existing Trans Mountain Pipeline. The proposal would see the export of crude oil expanded from its present level of approximately 350,000 barrels per day to 750,000 barrels per day. The Nation has experienced the results of crude oil handling and refining on Burrard Inlet for a number of decades. The risks associated with the pipeline expansion are just too great for its people to accept.
About Tsleil-Waututh Nation
Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a progressive and vibrant Coast Salish community of approximately 500 members located along the shores of Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada. For more information please visit www.twnation.ca.
SOURCE Tsleil-Waututh Nation