Canada Must Ensure First Nations Rights, Title and Jurisdiction Are Respected in TMX Project

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde.

(February 4) – Following the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision today on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the federal government must ensure that First Nations’ rights, title and jurisdiction are respected.

“First Nations rights and title holders must be respected in all proposed development, and this, of course, includes the Trans Mountain pipeline.  Government and industry must do a better job of meaningfully consulting First Nations from the outset of all major projects and respecting First Nations rights in Canadian and international law,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde.

The Government of Canada originally approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in November 2016.  In July 2018, the Federal Court ruled the Government of Canada must consult with Indigenous peoples and groups, and conduct a marine-related environmental assessment.  The Government of Canada purchased the pipeline for $4.5 billion in May 2018. The First Nations applicants, including the Coldwater Indian Band, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation, and Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe, argued that consultation remained insufficient.

Regional Chief for British Columbia Terry Teegee said, “Today we see another court decision that is another reminder that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and free, prior and informed consent are the necessary way forward. Obviously, the process is still flawed. We can replace conflict and court cases with progress, prosperity and stability.

‘The Assembly of First Nations will continue to push to ensure all policies, legislation and practices are consistent with First Nations inherent and Treaty rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and for federal legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

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