The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Two First Nations fighting to overturn approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline project say federal officials refused to discuss their claim of decision-making power over ancestral lands.
Lawyer Cheryl Sharvit says the Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli are not asserting the right to veto resource projects on traditional territories in British Columbia’s Central Interior.
But she says the bands’ asserted authority to govern their lands should have at least been considered by the Crown during consultations on the $7-billion pipeline proposal from Calgary-based Enbridge (TSX:ENB).
Instead, the Crown excluded the issue from the talks, stating the question of control over First Nations’ territories would be better dealt with in the treaty process.
Eight aboriginal bands are in the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver arguing Canada violated its legal duty to consult and accommodate First Nations before issuing conditional approval of the project.
The 1,200-kilometre twin pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to the coastal district of Kitimat, for tanker shipment overseas.