The pipeline is an opportunity to renew First Nation jurisdiction – by Michael Lebourdais (Globe and Mail – April 24, 2018)

Michael LeBourdais is the chief of Whispering Pines Indian Band, which is part of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation.

For my community of Whispering Pines/Clinton Indian Band and others like us, pipelines are about First Nation jurisdiction. Our goal has been and always will be to renew our jurisdictions and establish our governments within Canada. First Nations are the only governments in Canada that do not receive fiscal benefits from resource development on their lands. We are focused on righting this wrong.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline crosses a reserve our community was moved to in 1972. Years ago, we discovered Kinder Morgan didn’t have an unrestricted legal right-of-way to use our lands, which they needed for both their current and expanded use.

We negotiated a resolution we hoped would provide benefits to our children, grandchildren, elders and community. We provided multiple opportunities for community input during the negotiations. Our community voted unanimously in favour of the agreement at a community meeting.

From our perspective, it was a mutually beneficial good-faith business deal between our government and a company using our land. It did not expand or reduce our jurisdiction.

Our story is the story of all First Nations in Canada. We had jurisdiction and land precontact. These were replaced through legislation, policies and the Department of Indian Affairs. The result has been poverty and dependence and since then, we have struggled to renew our jurisdictions.

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