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A group of First Nations in British Columbia says it will do “whatever means necessary” to stop exports of crude oil from Alberta’s oilsands through their territories — including the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline.
The $5.5-billion project, which is currently being assessed by a review panel in Ottawa, now faces yet another public relations setback in its quest to open up a new supply route to Asia.
Some 130 aboriginal groups claimed Thursday the company would be contravening international laws such as the non-binding United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Aboriginal Peoples if it the pipeline goes ahead without their approval.
“We will do whatever means necessary, and we do have the support,” said Geraldine Thomas-Flurer, who represents the Yinka Dene Alliance of five First Nations.
“We’re not afraid of Enbridge. They’re making statements minimizing aboriginal people.”
The First Nations put out a notice that claimed a “united front” against the oilsands industry, which also includes an expansion of the Kinder Morgan Energy Partners’ Trans Mountain oil pipeline. It comes one year after a similar petition called “Save the Fraser” was signed.
Aboriginals and environmentalists claim the Enbridge project is too risky and would cause irrevocable damage to the environment. If approved, the pipeline would move 525,000 barrels a day of oilsands crude 1,177 km from Edmonton to the Pacific port of Kitimat, B.C.
“This is a project that’s going to destroy communities, poison waters, make people sick, destroy the tourism industry here. Destroy any hope of British Columbia staying beautiful,” said Thomas-Flurer.
A spokesman for Enbridge Inc. in Calgary said First Nations opposition to the project is well-known, but added that some aboriginals are also on board.
“It’s always of concern when people are opposed to something you’re doing. We listen, we always try and learn from what people are telling us,” said spokesman Paul Stanway.
“The law determines that we need to get regulatory approval before we can build this pipeline. We need that permit, and that’s what we’re focused on.”
For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1095775–aboriginal-groups-stand-against-canadian-oil-pipeline