Posts Tagged ‘First Nations’
Cut and Paste from a Press Release
Musqueam isn’t celebrating with BC regarding George Massey Tunnel Removal and Bridge Project
For Immediate Release
Thurs. April 6, 2017
Musqueam Territory, Vancouver, BC – Canada. Yesterday the BC government announced the construction of a bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel (GMT). The project lies in the heart of Musqueam territory and the BC government has not received consent from Musqueam to proceed. It is in an area that has been occupied by Musqueam since time immemorial. GMT is surrounded by heritage sites, and other culturally important sites, including fishing areas in the Lower Fraser River that Musqueam has Aboriginal rights to fish, which are protected by the Canadian Constitution after a Supreme Court of Canada ruling (R. v Sparrow, 1992).
Chief Wayne Sparrow stated, “Musqueam has not been meaningfully consulted nor accommodated for the GMT project. This project is in the core of our exclusive territory and the Provincial and Federal government have not received Musqueam’s consent.”
The GMT project will involve the construction of a 10-lane bridge, and the removal of the tunnel. The tunnel removal will add to the negative cumulative effects in Musqueam’s territorial waters in the Fraser River. BC and Canada have not considered these effects as they continue to approve projects like this without meaningfully consulting, accommodating and compensating Musqueam for these cumulative impacts.
“Musqueam will not stand for the continued degradation of our lands and waters. The BC and Canadian government have much work to do with us to ensure the GMT project can proceed according to Musqueam conditions”, said Chief Sparrow. He added, “Musqueam is leading in areas of stewardship and management in our territory, and will raise the bar on all future projects in Musqueam territory. We are not against development, but it must be done in ways that include Musqueam values, and ensures the protection of our rights.”
Musqueam has cultural sites all around the project and in the Lower Fraser River that provide evidence of Musqueam exclusive use and occupancy, thousands of years before Canadian Confederation.
The following is a Press Release that came into my inbox. I somehow doubt that the mainstream media will cut and paste the whole thing – so that’s what I am going to do.
“OUR DISAPPOINTMENT IS PROFOUND”
TERRACE, BC, September 1, 2016 – Northwest Aboriginal nations have emerged from two days of meetings with the federal government demanding that its “deeply flawed” environmental assessment of a massive LNG proposal be delayed, in light of unfair and incomplete consultation with affected First Nations.
“CEAA (the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) has fundamentally misunderstood its fiduciary obligations to meaningfully consult the proper title holders,” said chief negotiator Glen Williams of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs.
A powerful alliance of hereditary leaders from Gitanyow, Heiltsuk, Lax Kw’alaams, Gitxsan, Takla Lake, Lake Babine and Wet’suwet’en Nations made it clear to CEAA through a series of meetings in July and August that plans by Malaysia’s state oil company, Petronas, to build a $36-billion liquefied natural gas pipeline and an export facility at the mouth of the Skeena River cannot and will not proceed without their support.
CEAA is nearing the end of a review process that started under Stephen Harper and will conclude with advice to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet on whether to decide for or against the project. Williams says the agency has been biased from the outset, and still seems “more than willing to act as an advocate for the flawed research of foreign multinational corporations rather than for the interests of Canadians.”
Despite pressure that Premier Christy Clark is exerting on the Trudeau government to decide in favour of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project in the coming weeks, northern First Nations are demanding an extension of at least four months to the CEAA process so that full consultation can occur. It was a message delivered loud and clear during this week’s two-day meeting with CEAA in Terrace.
“Despite strong commitments by Prime Minister (Trudeau) to fix Canada’s broken environmental review process, the only difference so far between Harper and Trudeau is our tremendous disappointment in the lack of change,” Williams added. “We expect better from Mr. Trudeau. Our disappointment is profound.”
Murray Smith, spokesperson for the Gitwilgyoots Tribe, one of the Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams, said he was shocked by the disrespectful tone CEAA brought to the meetings. He said the agency neglected to acknowledge Aboriginal territorial rights and title during its presentations, yet went out of its way to acknowledge the Prince Rupert Port Authority as having “jurisdiction over the federal lands.”
“It is appalling that an agency of the federal government could be so ignorant of Canadian law and recent court decisions. Do they seriously believe that a rogue federal agency like their so-called port authority owns our lands, that they can destroy our resources without even talking to us? Why hasn’t our new Prime Minister paid any attention to his own words about nation-to-nation building?”
Murray continued, “Trudeau offers an open door for known corrupt foreign companies like Petronas and (Chinese oil company) Sinopec, yet he says nothing is more important to him than building relationships with First Nations people, but his actions so far do not reflect that at all.”
Presentations were made to CEAA regarding scientific data collected from several studies that confirm the uniqueness of salmon habitat at the mouth of the Skeena River, which is unlike any other area on the Canadian Pacific Coast. The Skeena is the second-largest salmon producing river in the country, and the estuarine ecology of Lelu Island (the site of Petronas’ planned gas hub) and Flora Bank (where Petronas plans a shipping facility) is unique, and uniquely fragile.
Hereditary leader and Wet’suwet’en spokesperson Chief Na’Moks commented that, “science undertaken by Skeena Fishery Commission was done over many years by the leading researchers and experts in their field, and by researchers from Canada’s leading universities. The proponent’s research was conducted by hired consultants tasked with trying to come up with justifications for an incredibly foolish decision by the Prince Rupert Port Authority to site a massive industrial development on top of irreplaceable salmon habitat. The work done to date by Petronas’ consultants has been rejected by CEAA at least five times as being flawed, but now CEAA seems to be buying into the deeply flawed justifications for a project that was simply sited in the worst possible place.”
Independent science, like that of Dr. Patrick McLaren, a geologist and leading expert on sedimentation dynamics, showed that if an LNG tanker berth was placed near Flora Bank it would cause irreversible damage to one of the most productive juvenile salmon nurseries in the world. McLaren’s testimony called into question evidence provided by the proponent, which grossly understates the impacts PNW LNG would have on already stressed salmon stocks.
“The risk from losing the sand from Flora Bank is far greater than the risk of accepting that no harm will come to Flora Bank,” Dr. McLaren said in his presentation.
Gitanyow chief Glen Williams said, “CEAA heard from real scientists who have conducted comprehensive research on the issue on all the potential impacts on our food supply, the ecosystem, the air, and the place we live. The science has been peer-reviewed and published in the world’s most prestigious scientific journals. When are we going to see any honour from government? When can we find comfort in a process that is really meaningful?”
There is so much wrong with the South Fraser Perimeter Road that anywhere else this would be the issue that stopped it. In the Ontario EA process for a site search project I did – admittedly some years ago now – we decided to go for a site that was so comprehensively disturbed and so far from streams that there was no chance of archaelogical remains. Indeed one of the first EAs I worked on here at Bamberton on Vancouver Island, it was the First Nations concerns that made the proponent give up, because they realised that mitigation was simply not possible. Sacred sites are like that.
But the SFPR has impacts on existing communities, on a unique and fragile ecosystem, on farmland – but all of that is not enough to get the MoT to even consider the available alternative route, let alone the flawed case that it is needed at all. And the presence of a line in an old plan (which had not examined any of these issues) should have no effect on the appraisal. By any measure, the SFPR has failed to meet any reasonable standard of evaluation.
It amazes me that Metro Vancouver has not joined the fight. How can you talk about a future sustainable region and have the advocates of the Gateway on the platform? There is nothing about the Gateway that is even remotely connected to sustainability. And the government’s claim that it will reduce local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions has been shown to be false. Use a flawed set of assumptions (there will be no induced traffic, there will be no change in land use)m and you get forecasts which no one with any understanding of the history of urban growth can accept. Indeed, I am certain that both Gordon Campbell and Kevin Falcon know that, but regard their indebtedness to the business community as being more important than their responsibilities to the wider community.
The most depressing aspect of all this to me is the attitude of the First Nations. But these are their concerns – and I understand that they feel that a newcomer like me has no standing in this discussion. It is not my story to tell. I just wish that they would tell their story more forcefully and publicly. The lack of comment in this Sun piece is distressing, for this was an opportunity to take and possibly make some change. The Juggernaut of the Gateway needs some obstacles thrown in its path, to slow its progress before it flattens us all. We know this government does not care about the environment, or the community. But there are some groups that have to listen to – and that is not the farmers, or the defenders of Burns Bog, or the people who live along the present chosen route. They can expect to be ignored – and have been. But the reality of the present treaty process does give the First Nations a voice. And a voice that has power.
It needs to be heard along the Fraser.