Tuesday, November 28, 2016 (Vancouver, BC) – Coastal First Nations (CFN) says today’s federal government decision to quash the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project and impose a crude oil tanker moratorium on BC’s north coast is a double victory for Coastal First Nations and for all north coast communities fighting to protect coastal economies, cultures and ecosystems.
“We’re jubilant to see this final nail in the coffin to Enbridge Northern Gateway. Coastal First Nations have been calling for this decision since 2011. It’s a huge victory for us and for all coastal communities that depend on our coastal marine resources,” says CFN Board Chair Patrick Kelly. “We’re also pleased with the announcement of a moratorium on the transport of crude oil through the Great Bear Rainforest region. At first glance, today’s announcement looks like it should address meet our objectives but we will need to take a closer look to better understand what’s included in the federal government’s list of banned substances.”
Kelly says these decisions are particularly welcomed in the wake of the tragic diesel spill of the Nathan E. Stewart tug that closed a vital clam fishery in Heiltsuk Territory in October.
“Nobody knows better than First Nations the risks posed by crude oil transport at sea and the damage oil spills can wreak on our cultures, economies and ways of life,” says Kelly. “The sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart in Heiltsuk waters is chilling evidence of what we’ve been saying for years: oil spills are inevitable and their impacts far-reaching and devastating for First Nations communities.”
Kelly says the Federal Court of Appeal ruling earlier this year that the previous Conservative government had failed in its duty to consult with First Nations on Northern Gateway is a clear sign going forward that governments must engage in full nation to nation decision-making on shipping and other resource projects impacting First Nations territories.
Coastal First Nations say today’s announcement will help protect First Nations Traditional Territories of the Great Bear Rainforest from the threat of Northern Gateway supertanker spills. “These are important steps to ensure our Traditional Territories are protected and the Great Bear coast is safeguarded from future risk of oil spills,” Kelly says.
The vast coastal temperate rainforest was protected in an agreement earlier this year between First Nations, the Province of BC and other groups, and designated for the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy during a September visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the region.
The Coastal First Nations is an alliance of First Nations that includes the Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation who work together to create a sustainable economy on British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Jo Anne Walton
Cell: (778) 953-3103
Office: (604) 696-9889
Jo Anne Walton