First Nations rights must be respected by federal government in pipeline development

OTTAWA, Dec. 1, 2016 /CNW/ – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today said First Nations governments and First Nations rights must be respected and upheld in any decisions and activities related to resource development, including the Trans Mountain and Line 3 pipelines approved Tuesday with conditions by the federal government.

“We cannot stress enough that respect for First Nations rights is essential in any resource development decisions,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “This means fulfilling government’s legal duty to consult and accommodate, and implement the principle of free, prior and informed consent as articulated in the UN Declaration. We will stand with First Nations in their right to say yes or say no. Governments and industry must respect that. Our approach will always be about balancing the economy and the need to protect the environment to ensure development is sustainable and responsible. In a world far too dependent on fossil fuels, more efforts and more investment is needed to move towards clean, renewable green energy.”

On November 29, the Canadian government announced its decisions on three pipeline projects – the government approved the Line 3 replacement with conditions, approved the Trans Mountain pipeline with 157 conditions, and rejected the Northern Gateway pipeline. The federal government also announced a moratorium on crude oil shipping along B.C.’s north coast.

National Chief Bellegarde stated: “This government committed to a nation-to-nation relationship. That means First Nations must be involved at the highest levels of decision-making in any projects that affect our traditional territories. Modernizing the National Energy Board has to include First Nations people both in the process and in direct decision making roles on the National Energy Board. We are not stakeholders. First Nations are rights and title holders.”

AFN National Chief Bellegarde was at the Supreme Court of Canada yesterday standing with the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation as their landmark Supreme Court case began. The Chippewas of the Thames are seeking to have the court overturn a permit given to Enbridge Inc. to reverse and expand the flow of the Line 9 pipeline between Sarnia, ON and Montreal, PQ because the First Nation was not meaningfully consulted at any time during the process, which is required under Canadian law. National Chief Bellegarde was there to support First Nations and First Nations rights, including the right to self-determination.

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

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