As the media speculates about Enbridge Northern Gateway “rising from the dead,” we want to set the record straight.
Regardless of the positions taken by government, industry, or the media, Heiltsuk Nation remains firm in its opposition to this project and its resolve to fight Enbridge by any means necessary.
As the community knows, we fully engaged as intervenors in the Joint Review process to put our position forward in a clear and strong way. When the Harper government approved the project anyway, we joined with our Kitasoo-Xaixais neighbours in a court challenge pressing for a judicial review of the federal approval.
We are still awaiting the court’s decision, but we are hopeful that the court will affirm that the federal government – which now has Justin Trudeau at the helm – should reconsider and revoke Enbridge’s federal approval.
As a member of Coastal First Nations, we also supported a separate legal challenge in the BC Court of Appeal. This was aimed at the Province of British Columbia, taking them to task for waiving their right to a provincial environmental review of Enbridge Northern Gateway. The courts agreed that the Province, in skipping a provincial review, failed in its duty to consult First Nations. As a result, there is an additional layer of reviews that Enbridge Northern Gateway must now go through to get the necessary provincial permits.
We recognize that challenging these issues in court can be costly. So we engaged with RAVEN Trust and the Pull Together fundraiser, which gathered over $600,000 for First Nations legal fees to reduce the financial burden of court challenges. As a result, we are able to maximize Heiltsuk’s contribution to the legal challenges while minimizing the cost to our Nation.
We know we can’t just leave this up to the courts, and we are pushing the issue politically as well. In the federal mandate letters, ministers were tasked with crafting and implementing a North Coast crude oil moratorium that would prevent projects like Enbridge from shipping their product from ports like Kitimat. Heiltsuk is keeping up political pressure to ensure that moratorium is implemented.
Under the terms of its approval from the Harper government, Enbridge has a certain period of time to fulfill 209 conditions imposed on it by Cabinet. That period of time essentially elapses at the end of 2016, and we are closely monitoring Enbridge’s (lack of) progress in fulfilling their conditions. In the end, their federal approval may become null through Enbridge’s own inability to complete basic tasks like confirming shipping contracts.
Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP may think Enbridge Northern Gateway deserves to be resurrected. Heiltsuk are here to remind her, and to remind the proponent, that we won’t stop fighting this project until it’s dead.
We have heard loud and clear the community’s position that the risk of this project is too great, and that it must not come to pass. As a Nation, we have committed to fighting Enbridge in the boardroom, in the courtroom, in the streets, and if necessary, on the land. Only Enbridge knows how far they will push us, but one thing is certain in our minds:
No matter how far they push us, we’ll be there until we win.