B.C. chief tells pipeline hearings his people are responsible for their land

The hearings in Victoria will gather evidence from Indigenous groups about the pipeline expansion project

Protection of salmon, animals and the land in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia is an eternal responsibility of First Nations and the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline poses risks that could harm the homes and culture of Aboriginal Peoples, the National Energy Board heard Monday.

But Chief Tyrone McNeil of the Sto:lo Tribal Council and councillor Andrew Victor of the Cheam First Nation did not say they are completely opposed to the expansion project as the board began hearings in Victoria.

Victor said the Sto:lo, which includes the Cheam First Nation, want to see grounds for the pipeline expansion project, including the completion of environmental assessments that examine the risks and impacts of a spill.

RELATED: Energy board to hear traditional Indigenous evidence in Trans Mountain review

The council also wants to be part of ongoing consultations and environmental assessments, he added.

“We need to see justification,” said Victor. “The Sto:lo face uncertainty with the project’s impacts to our way of life. We want to see it done right.”

After he testified, McNeil said: “In our tribal council, some of our communities support it, others don’t.”

The hearings in Victoria will gather evidence from Indigenous groups about the pipeline expansion project and its potential impact on the marine environment. The board was in Calgary earlier this month and will hold hearings in Nanaimo, B.C., from Dec. 3 to 6.

The new hearings are being held after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the original approval for the expansion, saying the federal government didn’t adequately consult with First Nations or consider the impact of tanker traffic on the marine environment.

The board says 30 Indigenous interveners from B.C., Alberta and the United States will participate in the hearings in Victoria.

McNeil told the board the Sto:lo call the Fraser River their mother because it feeds and nurtures them.

RELATED: Round two of NEB hearings for Trans Mountain comes to Victoria

“We’ve been here since the start of time,” said McNeil. “We’re going to continue to be here. That’s why we’re here this morning, for us to continue to look after what’s important to us.”

He said the Sto:lo believe they are responsible for looking after everything they see, including the Chinook salmon, the main food source for threatened southern resident killer whales.

“Part of this conversation needs to be what safeguards are in place to start a project like this,” McNeil said. “When we say everything, that’s in English the land, that’s the water, that’s the air, that’s the four-legged, the winged, the crawlers, the diggers, everything. Whether they are human or not, we’ve got a responsibility for it.”

The federal government announced last May it would spend $4.5 billion to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan. Expansion of the pipeline would triple the capacity of the line from northern Alberta to Burnaby, B.C.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Career fair a success for many

700 job hunters visited the Black Press Extreme Education and career fair in Prince George Oct. 11

Cariboo-Prince George candidates address the housing crisis at forum

Questions from the public covered housing, forestry, healthcare, climate change, gender equality and more

Elementary school students compete in a cross country race

The event held at the Nechako Valley Sporting Association grounds saw students from across SD91 participate

Hockey breakast club a success, says organizer

Club aims to expose kids to hockey and help them develop their game

Activities undertaken by the 899 Squadron

Vanderhoof air cadet’s held their first monthly commanding officer parade of the new training year on Sept. 24

VIDEO: U.S. officials refute British couple’s ‘accidental’ border-crossing claim

Authorities say couple was arrested after illegal entry from B.C., with $16,000 and marijuana

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

ICBC willing to loosen grip on driver claim data, David Eby says

Private insurers say claims record monopoly keeps them out

B.C. principal suspended for failing to help student who reported inappropriate touching

Principal didn’t remove student from the teacher’s class nor call the parents within a reasonable time

Most Read