BC First Nations file legal action against Ottawa’s Trans Mountain pipeline approval

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Three BC First Nations are launching new legal action against Kinder Morgan and the federal government for approving the company’s Trans Mountain Pipeline project.

Chiefs from Coldwater Indian Band, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish Nation are each calling for a judicial review of Ottawa’s approval of the project last month, expressing concerns over the consultation process, the safety of waterways and marine ecosystems, and the pipeline’s approved route.

“We demand proper processes and frameworks that recognize the importance of the decision making for us to not be marginalized and alienated in our homelands,” Squamish Chief Ian Campbell says.

“Concerns [during consultations] were met with vagueness and general responses blanketing all first nations as though we were stakeholders in each other’s lands.”

While the primary complaint is over whether First Nations received proper, meaningful consultation, Coldwater chief Lee Spahan says they don’t like the approved route because it threatens their only water source.

“We rely on the local aquifer for drinking water and for irrigation. The pipeline will pass through the recharge zone that feeds the aquifer,” Spahan says.

“For Coldwater, this is about our drinking water. It is our Standing Rock.”

The First Nations have all filed separate legal cases but are exchanging information and resources. The cases follow their previous application for the same review of the National Energy Board’s approval of the pipeline.

The groups hope to ride the success of the Federal Court of Appeal’s June ruling on the Northern Gateway pipeline that the federal government had not adequately consulted with Indigenous peoples who would have been affected by the project.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Kinder Morgan expansion project November 29th, 2016 while the BC government approved the project last week with multiple conditions and a profit sharing agreement with Kinder Morgan worth up to $1 billion over 20 years.

In early December, 39 of the 120 aboriginal groups that Kinder Morgan consulted have signed mutual benefit agreements, 28 of which are in BC.

“We are distinct First Nations across Canada… We do not allow or speak for any First Nations within their territories,” Campbell says.

The expansion project will triple the amount oil products that run 1,150 kilometres from Edmonton to Burnaby.

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