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NEWS RELEASE · 5th December 2012
Globe/Mail NathanVanderKlippe
Haisla First Nation withdraws from Coastal First Nations over Enbridge pipeline project

The Haisla First Nation has just withdrawn from Coastal First Nations, an alliance of First Nations along BC’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii, over Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway project, reports the

The Haisla First Nation, an aboriginal group situated at the terminus on the B.C. coast of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, has pulled out of an organization that has stridently opposed the controversial project, and called for greener practices in the export of natural gas.

The Haisla said they have withdrawn from Coastal First Nations, effective immediately, amid a first nations debate about the environmental impact of West Coast industrial development that has now blown out into the open. The move also comes amid a softening Haisla stance toward oil exports from their traditional territory, which some see as evidence that the tide is turning on opposition to Gateway.

[Haisla Chief Councillor Ellis Ross] added that the Haisla “remain as committed as ever to advancing the common economic, social, and environmental issues of first nations on the north coast. We continue to believe that these interests are often best advanced through co-operation.”

Because of their geographic location near Kitimat, the Haisla arguably hold the highest profile among first nations with regard to Gateway – and any change in their stance could be important to the project’s prospects.

The Northern Gateway pipeline would end near Kitimat, in Haisla traditional territory. It has become a national priority, and Mr. Ross has met twice in the past two months with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.

“You’ve really got to show me that you’ve really covered off all the bases in terms of protecting the environment. Because all I can visualize is the Gulf of Mexico, Prince William Sound, Kalamazoo,” he said, referring to the potential for spills from the pipeline and the tankers it would fill.

He referred to a lengthy fight by the Haisla to restore natural ecosystems in their territory, some of which have been fouled by industrial activity.

“The Haisla have been trying to address environmental impact from industry for the last 70 years, and we’re just starting to come out of it on the good side. That’s a long fight to try to bring back the Kitimat River,” he said.

The Haisla don’t want to see those efforts reversed by an oil export project, he said.

Coastal First Nations, in contrast, has maintained a far stronger tone in opposing Gateway. In an interview this week, Mr. Sterritt called Gateway “an impossible dream right now” that could not be built, and whose construction would prompt protests and civil disobedience on a scale far larger than those against logging in Clayoquot Sound in 1993.

“Multiply that by 10,” he said. He pointed to the number of first nations, unions and municipalities that have come out against the $6-billion pipeline project, which would carry Alberta crude to the coast for export.

“There’s never been a project in B.C. that’s ever had this much opposition,” he said.

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Hereditary Chief of Gitwangak Band
Comment by Clifford C.W. Morgan on 11th December 2012
When a group of leaders give way to economics of oil and LNg, They also aboandon their rights to defend and protect the clans, and Nation. We fired those who agreed to Enbridge, and this is the stand of many chiefs and clans in our Gitxsan Nation. It is easier to defend our traditional places and our cultures, that will be destroyed in times ahead, as our First Nation people move away from our villages in the event of spoiled headwaters, which feeds the wild game and fishes of sorts, and we see how deer and moose and salmon become cancerous, and if a tanker, which is all it will take runs aground, it will be William Sound only in greater damage, no more herring eggs, smelts, oolicans, chums, salmon and people will have to move away. Is this worth it all to agree to Enbridge and LNG port?