June 17, 2014 10:16 pm

‘We will fight for our legacy': ‘Chief Stewart Phillip on Northern Gateway decision

WATCH ABOVE: Grand Chief Stewart Phillip on BC1

VANCOUVER – Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said First Nations groups and British Columbians will fight for their legacy to ensure what was handed to them will be handed to their children and grandchildren.

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Speaking to Jill Krop on BC1 shortly after the decision was announced about the Northern Gateway Pipeline Phillip said First Nations are still prepared to “go to the wall to go against this project.”

“I think it’s pretty self-explanatory,” said Phillip, “the First Nations people of this province have made it abundantly clear that we have every right, based on our constitutional and judicially upheld rights, rights that are reflected in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to stand by our traditional laws and legal orders and defend our territories from the threats and predations of oil and gas. And we fully intend to do that.”

On Tuesday it was revealed that the federal government accepted the independent panel’s recommendation to impose 209 conditions on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal.

The 1,177-kilometre, $6.5 billion project would transport 525,000 barrels per day of oil products from outside Edmonton to Kitimat on the northern B.C. coast.

In an interview with Jas Johal, executive vice president, western access, of Enbridge, Janet Holder said many First Nations groups are on-board with Enbridge’s plan for the Northern Gateway Pipeline, but Phillip said that is not true.

“The solidarity between Aboriginal groups and communities in this province vis-a-vis this issue is unprecedented,” he said. “There’s somewhere in the neighbourhood of 140 First Nations who have signed off on the Fraser Declaration, Coastal First Nations the Haida etc., and all of mainstream First Nations political organizations encompassed by the BC First Nations Leadership Council – namely the First Nations Summit, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the BC Association of First Nations is standing in absolute solidarity.”

He said he has not seen any of these “so-called” agreements between First Nations and Enbridge. “But as you well know, the opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway’s Pipeline proposal extends to the vast majority of British Columbians,” said Phillip. “So it’s not simply a First Nations issue. It’s an issue of grave concern to all British Columbians.”

First Nations groups have already said they will immediately go to court to “vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project.”

“We believe that the reason the vast majority of British Columbians are opposed to heavy-oil pipelines is they too get it and understand they have a duty and obligation to their children and grandchildren to ensure that they legacy that was handed to them by their forbearers is completely intact for their children and grandchildren,” said Phillip. “We’re talking about oil verses water. We’re talking about wild salmon. We’re talking about killer whales , sea otters — everything that makes British Columbia the most beautiful place on the planet.”

- With files from Nicole Gibillini

© Shaw Media, 2014

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