Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Child's Christmas in Canada

this cold snowy night, seated here beside the Christmas tree my son and I decorated together, its lights cheery against the darkest coldest time of year. On the weekend, we went out to a nearby tree farm where they provided us with a saw and told us we could cut our own tree from the collection of snow-laden spruce and fir lined up there, seemingly waiting and watching. We had hot chocolate, warmed our stinging red hands through mitts by the bonfire and went on a horse-drawn sleighride through the trees.

The smell of the balsam fir tree now wafts through our living room. The temperature has plummeted to minus twenty degrees and colder; outside is crisp and clean with sharp slivers of crystal suspended in the air. A strong wind blows directly from the wild lands north of here telling us this old world of ours is still capable of powerful force which still stretches far beyond our reach and control.

Our Italian neighbour's crystal earrings sparkled by the Christmas tree as she sipped her wine in our living room last night.

Christmas around Prince George and BC's northen interior dwells in log cabins, woodstoves, forests, horse drawn sleigh rides under thick woolen blankets, sparkling snow, red-cheeked children skating on lake surface rinks and the sharp lines of cross country ski trails disappearing through the snow-laden forests spread out before us. The midday sun pauses low in the sky, brightening the landscape, not quite penetrating the chill. The magic of a northern Canadian Christmas. I want my son to experience these cozy magical Canadian phenomena for his whole life.

In recent months, Canadian politicians have traveled the globe trying to sell our country as an exporter of the black dirty fuels that are driving humans and much of the world to the brink of oblivion: coal and crude oil. We have the resources, you have the knowledge, they tell other parts of the world. Our black smudge soul reaching out to the world as we become something we never were, and the land is a place for resource exploitation rather than a precious home as it once was. Every branch and leaf is sacred, so too the passing breezes that blow through.

The federal government-appointed review panel has also been announced for the oil and condensate twin pipelines a major oil pipeline company wants to put through here, on its journey from the Alberta tar sands to the Kitimat coast. The Canadian government has plans to expand Canada's oil market to Asia and we stand right on the route of them being able to do so. The tar sands' ugliness begins to creep this way.

First Nations people have already decried the process, and the vice chief of the local tribal council traveled to the climate talks in Copenhagen to talk about the pipeline, the concerns about the tar sands and how his people's Aboriginal rights have been ignored. The pipeline would cross a thousand rivers and streams between Alberta and the coast, and one of them is the Stuart River, a major tributary of the Nechako River that flows into the Fraser here in Prince George.

I grew up on the banks of the Nechako River, and the cheery chatting but haunting call of the geese migrating through shadowed my childhood years. The calendar's months marked by the passing of the geese.

And I have traveled along the Nechako River's banks on the historic train route headed west. From the train I have watched the white trumpeter swans gracefully swimming there, at peace, completely oblivious of the dark oily stain of spills that would threaten them from upstream. Swans are of the ethereal realm of angel hymns sung by warm candle glow somewhere in the midst of this sparkling-moon snow-tucked hushed wild land that still despite what dark industrial threats may lurk, remains magical and mysterious. This land holds a gentle power that only the most patient observers fully come to understand.

The churches last Sunday rang their bells through the crisp sharp air 350 times for Copenhagen. 350 parts per million, the safe level of carbon into the atmosphere. Church bells rising into this same air, speaking to carbon of hope, of people's hope for a bright shiny new world.

The thermostat read minus 30 earlier today, minus 40 with the windchill. We are in northern Canada, in our down jackets and Canadian-made Baffin boots.

It is where we want to stay.

The other night we went downtown together to get library books. Outside the city had put up Christmas lights which cast a warm glow across the snow and ice of the downtown courtyard. My son is drawn to these cheery lights. We imagine these lights are the magical lights of Santa's home far north at the North Pole. Indeed the trees in the surrounding hills and stretching up to nearby Connaught Hill where the City has erected a Christmas lights display twinkle with ice crystals and a haunting white layer of hoar frost.

When it starts to snow, a perfectly formed snowflake lands on my black glove. I remember as a child letting the snowflakes land on my gloves, and studying many of them, one by one, as they landed, each in a beautifully formed unique pattern. I show the snowflake patterns to my son, and we look up, the falling snow tickling our faces as it falls from high above, from that mysterious place of air that has become so complicated and yet remains so simple.

I do not ever want to lose these northern snowflakes. I do not want them to be replaced by distorted ice blobs or driving sleet of global warming. I will fight for the perfectly formed snowflakes and fluffy northern snow.

In my Christmas dream, my young son is pretending to be a Christmas elf skiing through the snow, heading across the magic lands of the North Pole. He has entered this special land that only children can visit because they dwell where magic is still possible everywhere. He tells me about the other elves he spots, those figures darting into the Prince George Civic Centre for a meeting. Those figures entering Santa's home to create the toys for the children. Later he will sit on Santa's knee by the old trains at the Prince George Railway Museum and tell him he will leave chocolate chip cookies out for him. He will tell Santa about the toy he wants.

Toys that will not hurt the environment with their plastic and styrofoam wrap and mass production waste because they are made instead by elves in a magic land where there is no such thing as waste and pollution. They make the toys far beyond the place where the polar bears now slip through the sea ice into the vast waters of the Arctic Ocean.

Somewhere up there, high above the spruce trees and snow and polar bears' caves, the magical north pole still needs to exist. Santa lives in Canada with the postal code HO HO HO. This northern magic is a legacy we offer to the world, more valuable than any crude oil we could ever hope to export.

And a Merry Christmas still rings out from the mysterious vast snowy lands of northern Canada.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice

the shortest day of the year was greeted by buckets of snowflakes landing on our heads, mitts, cars and houses today. Went out for a magical cross country ski this evening through snow laden trees . . . skiing by ambient light reflected by the white surface of the snow is indeed a wondrous experience. I never want to lose our winters. Meanwhile there was a lantern walk downtown Prince George this evening to honour the solstice.

Winter Solstice, the time for inner reflection . . . so I probably should not blog about it . . .

but happy solstice to one, to all.
Coziest time of the year before the light begins to return.

Monday, December 14, 2009

letter to Enbridge (re: Northern Gateway proposed pipeline) from Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance (, Prince George BC

Enbridge Inc.
3000 ‐ 425 1st Street S.W.
Calgary, Alberta
T2P 3L8


December 14, 2009

To Whom it May Concern:


We are a newly formed citizens' group, based in Prince George, BC, opposed to the Northern Gateway oil pipeline project. To date, we have over 600 people opposed to the oil pipeline project and our support is growing daily.

In part we are responding to articles in the Prince George Citizen, November 27, 2009and Prince George Free Press, December 3, 2009 wherein Enbridge spokespeople are quoted as saying they hope this group (Sea 2 Sands Conservation Alliance) brings its concerns to Enbridge's Community Advisory Board.

We would like to be on record as saying that we do not view the Enbridge‐run Community Advisory Boards as an open public consultation.
The Enbridge website gives no details about the Community Advisory Board meetings. People must apply to attend and Enbridge screens the applicants. The meetings are not widely advertised. The media is excluded. In past sessions, Enbridge facilitators guide and control the discussions. The possibility of NO PIPELINE is not on the table at these meetings.

Reasons for our concerns and our opposition are as follows:

1. Broader Environmental Implications

a) Climate change ‐ governments are currently meeting in Copenhagen attempting to reach agreements to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the
potentially devastating impacts predicted by the scientific community. A majority of Canadians are in support of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Building an oil pipeline to sell Canada's water and energy‐intensive bitumen to countries such as China and India is incongruous with the goals of the Copenhagen meetings. It is also incongruous with all international climate talks being held around the world. In addition, the Canadian tar sands are known to be the highest growing source of carbon emissions in Canada and the primary impediment for Canada to bring about substantial reductions to carbon emissions. There is a complete disconnect between a reduction of carbon emissions and construction of a pipeline to export Canada's crude oil. Our generation has a significant moral responsibility to work toward reducing carbon emissions if there is even a remote chance that human‐generated emissions are causing the planet's weather systems to become destabilized.

b) Destructiveness of the tar sands ‐ The Canadian tar sands are receiving international criticism for the intense damage they impose on the local environment and those living in close proximity to them. In fact, Canada is losing its internationally respected reputation as a peaceful, responsible country because of this dirty source of oil; a reputation that took nearly 150 years to build. Critics of the tar sands include those from local indigenous people to heads of state around the world to global religious leaders. Some concerns related to the tar sands are:

i) detrimental impact on local First Nations traditional uses of the land
ii) elevated rates of cancer, birth defects, haemolytic anaemia and liver damage in people living in close proximity to (especially downstream) the tar sands
iii) immense amounts of water and natural gas utilized to extract bitumen
iv) destruction of boreal birds' breeding grounds
v) deaths and injury to local wildlife
vi) ineffective restoration of affected lands

The Enbridge Northern Gateway project is inextricably linked to the continued expansion of the tar sands. To support this pipeline is unacceptable.

Canada's economy evolves to the use of cleaner sources of energy. Sea 2 Sands feels that the sooner we move in that direction, the better.

2. Risk of oil spills along the Route ‐ both in terms of the pipelines and the oil tanker traffic that would result from construction of the port at Kitimat Enbridge states that there is a risk of oil spills. "Pipeline leaks are an inherent risk of operations" (Enbridge Annual Report 2008). This project would cross approximately
1000 streams and numerous major rivers including the Stuart River, a tributary of the Nechako River, which flows through the City of Prince George. Spills entering Prince George's watershed would have serious consequences for domestic and industrial water supplies. The citizens of British Columbia have already been subject to a substantial spill from a pipeline on the Pine River in August 2000. That spill impacted fish and wildlife habitat, and had significant negative effects on the drinking water in Chetwynd. The rivers crossed by this proposed pipeline are tributaries of the two major river systems of British Columbia, the Fraser and the Skeena. These watersheds represent some of the most valuable salmon habitat in the world. In recent years it has become apparent that salmon stocks on both rivers (Skeena and Fraser) are already compromised. The risk of even one oil spill could cause such damage as to destroy the few salmon we have left. A report has been produced outlining the potential negative effects of oil on salmon ( Enbridge cannot guarantee there would be no spills along this pipeline nor could they guarantee a timely response in the event of a spill in the remote and rugged territory the pipeline will cross, particularly during extreme weather conditions. Even the risk of one spill is too much in the context of these fragile inland ecosystems. The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council has conducted further research addressing some of these issues on the local level more specifically, and have been documented in their Aboriginal Interest and Use Study, which can be found at (

The risk of oil tanker spills in the Douglas Channel and the northwest coast is also considerable and of serious concern. Wildlife values in this area are significant on a global scale. For example, 28 of British Columbia's 84 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) lie within 250 kilometres of the mouth of Douglas Channel (http://www.bsc‐ Many of these IBAs support significant breeding populations of colonial seabirds. In addition to seabirds, the entire North Pacific population of grey whales passes through these waters during their annual migration from their breeding grounds in Mexico to their summer feeding grounds near Alaska. These waters are also migratory pathways for west coast salmon populations. British Columbia's recent experience with the spill of diesel fuel when the ferry, Queen of the North, sank in 2006 saw a number of issues indicating what would happen should a spill of crude oil occur. First and foremost was how difficult it was to physically contain even a small spill of a light and relatively benign substance in and around the rugged coastline for northern BC. Any spill from tankers moving oil from Kitimat would have unfathomable impacts to this extensive coastal area.

3. Socio‐Economic Costs Associated with Constructing the Pipeline: To First Nations people: Resource extraction has created divisiveness between various First Nations communities and between First Nations and non First Nations communities. It is time for this divisiveness to end. Many of the First Nations communities along the route of this pipeline have strongly stated their opposition. The traditional uses of the land would be severely compromised. As various First Nations groups, including the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, have pointed out, the social costs/risks are simply too high in the face of long‐standing cultural traditions. As we strive to move toward more sustainable, low‐carbon, local‐based economies, the wisdom of Aboriginal elders and traditional uses of the land become increasingly vital. We cannot afford to further place at risk these valuable cultural resources. Please watch the following series of videos for more information about the profound insights of local First Nations people into the broader issues at stake: To all communities along the route: Northern communities need long‐lasting, resilient economic bases. What we do not need is short‐term employment projects that come with significant long‐term environmental and social costs. For years northern British Columbians have endured a boom and bust, raw resource extraction economy, which has led families into cycles of despair during the hard times. Many social science studies point to the abject social consequences of relying heavily on raw resource extraction and short‐term industrial economic foundations. Recently there are various projects around the area focused on evolving beyond the boom and bust raw resource extraction mentality that has not served people well during times of recession in the past. We must build locally based sustainable economic opportunities; to do this requires healthy land and water resources. Any project — such as the oil pipeline and its associated spill risks — does not fit with this kind of vision for future northern economic development. Northerners must develop these visions. There are other economic activities in the north that depend on healthy, uncontaminated watersheds and even one oil spill risk would jeopardize the viability of these pursuits. One example is tourism: northern British Columbia's tourism base is founded on offering wilderness experiences, and a pristine environment is a cornerstone of these economic endeavours. Hunting and fishing are other examples.

One study conducted in the Skeena watershed reported that wild salmon fisheries generate close to $110 million in direct economic activity ( Many of our members have deep and longstanding roots in the northern interior of British Columbia. Most have lived in these communities for many years, have strong community ties and care deeply about this area. These are serious issues for us and many other residents along the proposed route. The opposition of Sea 2 Sands members was not formed without thought and we will continue to strongly oppose this project. The vision for Northern British Columbia that Enbridge is proposing by way of the Northern Gateway project is contradictory to the values of our members and the stewardship role that we share as residents of this region. We ask that you consider abandoning the Northern Gateway project and continue to pursue more viable and sustainable methods of energy production and distribution. Now, more than ever, we need leaders in the development of sustainable energy alternatives. You have an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the health and prosperity of your company, your shareholders, and our nation. Please do not waste it.

Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance

Josh DeLeenheer
Mary MacDonald


Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
Hon. Jim Prentice, Canada Environment Minister
Hon. Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia
Hereditary and Elected B.C. First Nations Chiefs
Dick Harris, MP, Cariboo‐Prince George
Jay Hill, MP, Prince George‐Peace River
Nathan Cullen, MP, Skeena‐Bulkley Valley
Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance Page 6 of 6
Hon. Shirley Bond, MLA, Prince George‐Valemount & British Columbia Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure
Hon. Pat Bell, MLA, Prince George North & British Columbia Minister of Forests and Range and Minister Responsible for Integrated Land Management Bureau
Hon. Blair Lekstrom, MLA, Peace River South & British Columbia Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
John Rustad, MLA, Nechako Lakes
Hon. Dan Rogers, Mayor of City of Prince George
Prince George City Council
Tim McEwan, President & CEO, Initiatives Prince George
Prince George Media

Thursday, December 10, 2009

International Human Rights day & a Canadian action item


and tying in very much with the climate talks now happening in Copenhagen (and Canada's black oil smudge mark. . . ) here is an action item issued by Amnesty International.

Yes, human rights and environment go very much hand in hand. . .


CANADA (Alberta): Justice overdue for the Lubicon Cree
“All we’re asking is to be a viable community and not dependent on any government. We have that right to be able to say to our kids and our grandchildren, ‘Here’s a land base and here you’re going to be able to live somewhat like the rest of the people in Canada.’”

- Dwight Gladue, in the new Amnesty International film, Our Land, My People: The Struggle of the Lubicon Cree

Corporations have removed billions of dollars worth of oil and gas from the lands of the Lubicon Cree in northern Alberta. The Lubicon, however, live in poverty. Their economy and way of life have been nearly wiped out by the destruction of animal habitat. The government has never provided basic services, like clean water and sanitation.

The Lubicon were left out of a treaty that the federal government negotiated with other Indigenous peoples in the region in 1899. There is still no agreement between the Lubicon and the federal and provincial governments over the ownership and management of their lands and resources. The federal and provincial governments have acknowledged the need to negotiate a land settlement. However, there have been no negotiations since 2003.

In the meantime, the provincial government is allowing oil and gas development to proceed at an astonishing pace on all but a few corners of Lubicon land. The Lubicon have estimated that there are more than four oil and gas wells for every Lubicon person. Now the Lubicon territory is being targeted for tar sands development, which raises more concerns about impacts on the environment.

No other human rights case in Canada has been so often condemned by United Nations human rights bodies.

Amnesty International calls on the federal government to enter into meaningful negotiations with the Lubicon so that a settlement can be reached that will protect their rights under national and international law. Until such a settlement is reached, Amnesty International urges the Province of Alberta not to license any more oil or gas wells on Lubicon land unless the Lubicon people approve.

Please write to Alberta’s premier.
Describe who you are.
Note that United Nations human rights experts have expressed concern many times about the devastating effects that oil and gas development have on the rights of the Lubicon Cree, including their livelihoods, culture, and way of life.
Urge the Government of Alberta to ensure that, until the Lubicon land dispute has been settled, it will permit no new oil and gas development on Lubicon land unless the Lubicon Cree agree to it.
Write to:
The Honourable Ed Stelmach
Premier of Alberta
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97th Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6

Start your letter:
Dear Premier Stelmach
Postage: 54 cents
Fax: (780) 427-1349

Take action online at

This new Amnesty International website features an online version of the film ‘Our Land, My People,’ background information on the situation of the Lubicon Cree, and lots of opportunities to take action. Visit the website to

send an email to the premier of Alberta
join our photo petition
get your friends and colleagues involved in the campaign.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Light a Candle for Hope in Prince George this weekend

Lots of actions for hope, peace and an all-round healthier world here in Prince George this coming weekend:

Candlelight Vigil, Friday December 11, 2009, 6:00 - 7:00 pm Civic Centre

Global leaders are now gathering in Copenhagen for climate negotiations. Please join me at a candlelight vigil in Prince George this Friday to show your support for policies aimed at combating global climate change. This is one of thousands of events taking place worldwide this weekend through -- let's join the world in sending a message to our political leaders!

Please bring:

A candle and holder
A sign (fun contest -- best sign wins a free copy of Now or Never by Tim Flannery!)
A hot drink to help stay warm!

We will gather at the Civic Centre and then walk, with our candles lit, to the constituency office of Dick Harris and Jay Hill (206-575 Quebec St -- a five-minute walk). Our thoughts will be drawn to the negotiations in Copenhagen, and to the people that climate change will affect and has affected, through song, words, and a moment of silence.

On Sunday afternoon December 13, Knox United Church (downtown Prince George) will ring its bells 350 times for Copenhagen/ climate action.

Meanwhile, down the street at Books and Company, the Prince George chapter of Amnesty International is hosting a letter-writing campaign for international human rights.

"Please come down to Books and Company, 1685 3rd Avenue, Prince George on Sunday between 1 pm and 4 pmand reaffirm the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) writing a letter about human rights abuses or signing a greeting card to human rights defenders around the world.

Learn more about the UDHR and Amnesty International's work.

We hope to see you there!

Seiko Watanabe, AI field worker for northern BC George Harding Prince George AI group contact"

Takla Lake First Nation opposes Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline review process

For Immediate Release
December 4, 2009

Takla Lake First Nation Opposes flawed Review of Enbridge Pipeline, Releases Public Report on Flawed EA Process

Takla lake first nation Traditional Territory/takla landing, BC – The Takla Lake First Nation is pleased to announce the release of its Report examining their long battle with the Joint Panel Review for the Kemess North Mine. Titled, Kemess North: Insights and Lessons, it examines the process that Takla Lake, Kwadacha and Tsay Keh Dene First Nations (collectively known as the Tse Keh Nay) had to endure to make sure that a fresh water lake in their territory (Amazay) was not destroyed by the waste rock of a proposed gold mine. It also examines how Tsay Key Nay participated, in protest, of the Joint Review Panel for the proposed Kemess North Copper-Gold Mine Project, which concluded that the project not be approved.

“It was a historic moment when the Joint Panel recommended to the government that the Kemess North mine not be allowed to kill a fresh water lake in our territory”, said Chief Dolly Abraham. “Even though our voices were heard by the Panel, it was not the appropriate place for dealing with our Aboriginal rights to decision-making about such projects. We want government-to-government processes, including those for high level strategic land planning.”

“First Nations in BC and across Canada can learn a lot from what we went through to protect our sacred waters and lands,” said Chief Dolly Abraham. “There is still uncertainty in our territories because the government does not want follow direction from the courts that meaningful consultation is required.”

Takla Lake First Nations has been working with Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli First Nations in proposing a separate First Nations review process for large projects, which has been rejected by both BC and Canada. “Until the government comes to the table with the willingness to change how it meaningfully consults and includes us in joint decision-making, including the establishment of environmental review processes, we will continue to have uncertainty in Takla’s territory.”

This report comes at an opportune time, since the National Energy Board’s recent announcement to issue a Joint Panel Review of the proposed Enbridge Pipeline. “I encourage all First Nations affected by the Enbridge Pipeline Joint Panel Review process to read our report and work together,” said Chief Abraham. “Investors should be very nervous. First Nations are not adequately consulted through these flawed processes.”

In addition to the report, the Tse Keh Nay developed a documentary about their struggle call “Amazay: A Film About Water”.


Chief Dolly Abraham: 250-564-9321


Takla Lake First Nation -

Documentary available at Tse Keh Nay website -

Report available -

Friday, December 4, 2009

Carrier Sekani Tribal Council points out enbridge review process flaws


Carrier Sekani Tribal Council
News Release
December 4, 2009

Joint Review Panel too weak to address First Nations and Public Interests

Dakelh Traditional Territory/Prince George, BC – The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) is not surprised the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) has issued a Joint Panel Agreement for the review of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project (Enbridge Pipeline). “It is unacceptable that the Government of Canada continues to break its own laws regarding meaningful consultation with First Nations by setting up a Joint Review Panel without First Nations involvement” stated Vice Tribal Chief Terry Teegee.

“CSTC communities were not consulted or involved in the establishment of this Joint Review Panel”, notes Vice Chief Teegee. “Here we go again! The Tsay Keh Nay (Takla Lake First Nation, Kwadacha First Nation and Tsay Keh Dene) who participated in the Kemess Joint Review in protest, fought for over 5 years to save Amazay (Duncan) Lake. CSTC and other First Nations will be prepared to fight the Enbridge Pipeline once again.” The Takla Lake First Nation have released a report that outlines their experience with the Joint Review Panel for the Kemess North decision, which stopped the dumping of 300 million tonnes of waste rock into Amazay Lake..

This proposed Enbridge pipeline will cross over 15 First Nations, 6 of which are members of the CSTC. It could be a 1,170 km long, 30 m wide, twin pipeline transporting the dirtiest, most toxic products from the oil sands in Alberta to the BC Coast and beyond. Huge super tanks are proposed to transport the oil from the North West coast to Asia and the rest of the world, further putting coastal ecosystems at risk.

“Just think. They are still cleaning up the mess from the Exxon Valdez accident. The proposed Enbridge pipeline will have twice as much oil going through it in one day, than what was spilled by Exxon Valdez in 1989.” stated Vice Chief Teegee. Teegee continued, “Canada is suggesting contributing to climate change by exporting this dirty oil, which is bound for Asian markets and the United States? No wonder Canada’s reputation is in tatters when it comes to setting targets for carbon emissions, Canada’s priorities are backwards in our fight against carbon emissions and climate change.” .”

Talks begin next week in Copenhagen, Denmark to develop a new international framework to combat climate change and replace the Kyoto Protocol. Vice Chief Teegee will be attending these meetings with a delegation of other First Nations Chiefs from across Canada and the world. “I’ll be talking a lot about this proposed Enbridge pipeline with international leaders in Copenhagen. Our lands are not for sale, we have said no to this project already in 2006. The potential detrimental impacts of a pipeline that would exist for over 200 years in our lands are not acceptable, especially for our grandchildren.”

In 2006, CSTC conducted an Aboriginal Interest and Use Study (AIUS) examining the impacts of the Enbridge Gateway pipeline. Extensive community consultations were had with CSTC members, and the risks of spills, accidents and sabotage were too high. The toxicity of the materials being transported is too high and even low amounts will have detrimental effects on the 785 watercourses and fragile fish habitats that are necessary for the survival of declining salmon stocks which are on the brink of extinction.

“These government reviews are too narrow in scope, and don’t account for impacts to Aboriginal rights and title. We have a right to free, prior and informed consent when it comes to development in our territories. Under their current Environmental Assessment framework a Joint Review Panel does not have legislation to address our rights and to make decisions on our behalf.” stated Vice Tribal Chief Terry Teegee.


For more information, contact Vice Tribal Chief Terry Teegee at 250-562-6279

Links to backgrounders:

Enbridge Gateway Pipeline Project –

Nadleh Whut'en on Enbridge northern gateway joint review panel

The finalized Agreement for the Joint Review Panel of Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project was released today December 4, 2009 by the Canada Environmental Assessment Agency. . . (

Here is a response from the Nadleh Whut'en near my old stomping grounds west of Prince George. I am with you Nadleh Whut'en!! People need to pay attention to what these First Nations communities are saying. Their words have importance for ALL of us.


Dec 04, 2009 15:27 ET
Enbridge Review Panel Already An Infringement of Aboriginal Rights

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor

FORT FRASER, BC, PRESS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Dec. 4, 2009) - Today's announcement of the finalization of the Joint Review Panel Agreement for the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is a step in the wrong direction and will not deliver the certainty sought by Enbridge and the federal government with respect to Aboriginal rights and title.

"People need to know that any project that enters this federal process has a more than 99% chance of getting approved," said Chief Larry Nooski. "To Nadleh Whut'en, this is not an open and transparent process, it is not real governance or decision-making, but it is a direct infringement of our constitutional right to Aboriginal governance."

Nadleh Whut'en has been proposing a parallel Aboriginal rights and title process for four years with both Enbridge and the federal government, both of whom have flat-out rejected the proposals. Recent court cases on Aboriginal rights have strongly indicated that there must be consultation on the review process itself, where large projects such as the Enbridge pipeline are concerned. The courts have also indicated that Aboriginal rights are not limited to hunting and fishing, but to governance over lands not ceded to the Crown.

"We want to send a clear message to potential investors in this project that the federal government cannot be trusted to properly address Aboriginal rights and title issues," said Nooski. "This blatant disregard for our traditional governance processes will continue to pose a major legal risk to the project's viability."

Nadleh Whut'en territory is located in the Northern interior of BC, between Fraser Lake and Babine Lake. The Enbridge pipelines propose to cross approximately 50km of Nadleh Whut'en territory, including a crossing of the Sutherland River, a significant habitat for numerous types of fish. Nadleh Whut'en environmental concerns are well documented in the 2006 Aboriginal Interests and Use Study (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council).

Chief Nooski concluded: "Our territory has never been surrendered to the Crown. We are seeking a true government-to-government process with the federal government for the review of the Enbridge project. We are prepared to defend our rights and title through all necessary means, including through the Canadian courts."
/For further information: Chief Larry Nooski, Nadleh Whut'en (250) 690-7211/

Nak'azdli issues statement on Mt. Milligan gold/copper mine

P.O. Box 1329, Fort St. James, B.C. V0J 1P0
Telephone (250) 996 – 7171
Fax (250) 996 – 8010

For Immediate Release
December 3, 2009: “The federal government has joined the BC government in riding roughshod over the law and disrespecting the Courts by granting environmental assessment approval to Terrane Metals plans to open a low grade copper and gold mine on Nak’azdli traditional lands,” Chief Fred Sam said today. “We are the people who live here therefore shouldn’t we decide if a mine is ‘not likely to have significant adverse environmental effects’ not a Federal Minister in Ottawa who has never been to Shus Nadloh?” asked Chief Sam.

As with BC’s earlier approval, the federal approval for the Mt. Milligan (Shus Nadloh) mine is a flagrant violation of the Court-ordered duty to consult with First Nations and must be overturned. It violates Canadian constitutional law that requires Canada to assess impacts of a proposed project on Aboriginal rights and title at every stage of federal approval, and the federal government has failed to respect our decision-making authority on Nak‘azdli lands.

“Given this information and the fact that Nak‘azdli have already filed its case against the Province’s approval and a court date is set for March 22, investors in this project still have nothing to celebrate”, said Chief Sam.

“The provincial government might be desperate to take the edge off its surprise record deficits and its planned HST tax grab by implying that major mining projects are about to make their return to BC, and the federal government might think there is political gain to be made in BC with a possible election looming next spring,” said Chief Sam

“Investors and the public need to be aware that the province and federal government ignored all of our concerns about the impacts of this proposed mine on our traditional lands and their vital headwaters and watersheds, and snubbed all our efforts to be involved in a meaningful environmental review process,” Chief Sam said.

“Their cavalier dismissal of Nak‘azdli was made clear when, despite the fact this mine will be built on our traditional lands, neither government saw fit to inform us of their approval,” said Chief Sam. “We had to find out from the media.”

Chief Sam said investors should ask themselves if they really believe the courts will accept political considerations and corporate needs as justification for the blatant violation of their rulings and the law. “And those in the local area who believe the promised jobs will make up for any destruction of the land and environment should ask themselves if they really understand the dangers,” he said. “And do they really believe that local unemployed people will get the good jobs, rather than experienced but unemployed miners from other parts of the province?”
Nak‘azdli have tried to avoid confrontation by seeking a way to be properly consulted and included in the review processes, but once again a First Nation in BC is forced to meet its duty to protect its aboriginal rights and title by asking the courts to yet again relate to its previous rulings. Given the government’s approach to date, the the Terrane Metals proposal (backstopped by Goldcorp.) risks turning into another Mackenzie Valley pipeline debacle that will still be just an idea after 35 years of discussions. “This project has already been shelved once and without Nak’azdli’s support the proposed Mt. Milligan project could be shelved again” added Chief Fred Sam.