First Nations Legal Challenges Against Kinder Morgan Moving Forward
At the January 17th press conference held in Downtown SFU, representatives of First Nations along the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker route announced their separate legal challenges to the federal government because it has reneged on its duty to consult with them.
Furthermore, the Crown has failed to address the “grave concerns” and the “alternative suggestions” of First Nations. For example, Chief Lee Spahan of the Merritt Coldwater Indian Band noted that the proposed pipeline runs within a few metres of the aquifer providing drinking water for his Band.
Initially, Kinder Morgan proposed a route more distant from the aquifer but for undisclosed reasons moved the route closer to the aquifer. Any leak would contaminate not only the water but also the fish, especially the salmon. The consequences would spread from local waters to the Nicola, the Thompson and finally the Fraser.
Chief Spahan likened the need to protect the purity of the aquifer to the situation at Standing Rock.
Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation noted the legal requirement is for consultations between the Federal Government and the individual First Nations at a Nation-to-Nation level. Consultations between Kinder Morgan and First Nations stand apart from this Crown duty of meaningful consultation.
Despite its rhetoric of reconciliation, this government followed the path of its predecessor by failing to include First Nations in governance, environmental stewardship and economic advancement. He posed the question: “In whose interests are these economic decisions made?”
Lawyers from the Tsleil-Waututh Legal Team stated that, in the absence of federal interchange, the First Nations were necessarily resorting to the courts in order to defend basic procedural matters regarding consultations.
Panel speakers consistently talked of the need for collaboration at all levels; of organising coalitions; and working together. The banner over the podium was for Pull-Together www.pulltogether.ca