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Grand chief threatens civil disobedience

By Christopher Pollon

Enbridge storage tanks in Alberta. (FILE PHOTO/QMI AGENCY)

Enbridge storage tanks in Alberta. (FILE PHOTO/QMI AGENCY)

On the same day that B.C. First Nations leaders came together to announce nine separate legal challenges to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, one of them warned the battle to stop the project could extend beyond the courts and into civil disobedience.

Flanked by the representatives of eight First Nations from across northern B.C., Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, whose organization the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs represents an umbrella of First Nations, pledged his support for the fight against the pipeline, which recently received conditional federal approval for its plan to build a 1,150-km dual pipeline from Alberta to tidewater at Kitimat.

“Our support is unconditional,” he said. “If that means going out onto the land itself to oppose activities being brought forward by Enbridge’s contractors, then we’re prepared to do that. For myself personally, it won’t be the first time I’ve been in that situation, and it probably won’t be the last time.”

The lawsuits discussed Monday come in the wake of at least two new lawsuits launched by a cluster of environmental groups in the last week, including one by the Federation of B.C. Naturalists.

As it stands now, there are at least 13 lawsuits focused on fighting the advancement of the Enbridge pipeline. Most are either challenging the recommendations and findings of the federal Joint Review Panel, or are going after the federal cabinet decision to allow the pipeline to proceed.

On Monday, the First Nations chiefs touched on general concerns about environmental devastation and the federal government’s failure to adequately consult with their communities. Phillip denied that the legal challenges were merely a negotiation tactic.

“This is about the land, the sea ... our indigenous rights, as well as food security, safety and health concerns,” he said. “It’s not about a better deal.”


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