Nadleh Whut’en First Nation Chief Martin Louie is showing partial support for a proposed Eagle Spirit Energy (ESE) pipeline.
“I’m not selling out to nobody. Things need to be changed so everyone can survive, the planet can survive. It’s not just about us it’s about everybody in Canada and the world. This earth is dying and people don’t care.”
Eagle Spirit Energy plans to transport crude oil from Alberta to B.C.’s northwest coast. At their chief’s gathering June 2 the energy company met with 30 First Nations from more than 50 traditional houses who also say ‘yes’ to partnering with ESE.
After a day of presentations from top global environmental, pipeline and energy experts, participants heard from key leaders and chiefs as to why they were supporting ESE.
Chief Louie said he will continue to focus on the protection of the land as a way to support moving resource development projects forward in B.C. encouraging both the B.C. and Alberta governments to engage in a more meaningful and respectful way.
“I’ve researched it and there are more than one billion cars in the world sold each year, 17,000 commercial airlines and just about 50,000 ships running product. I look at all these things and think, no matter who you are, oil depends on these things. Everything in your car is made with oil, every plastic bag and plastic bottle. It’s not going to stop so, how can we do this to make it safe. If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen so is there a safe way to allow it to happen?” Chief Louie said.
At the gathering, developing an environmental model for all users of natural resources was discussed and how no one should provide a blanket endorsement on resource development. However, hundreds of aboriginals, including Geraldine Thomas-Flurer of Saik’uz First Nation in Vanderhoof, are still not fully convinced and would like to see the changes Chief Louie speaks about.
“If we’re talking about creation of environmental laws, that’s what were fighting for so anything that is going to put our laws out there we are definitely in support of it. That doesn’t mean I’m in support of Eagle Spirit but definitely in support of enforcing our laws.”
From the beginning, Eagle Spirit has actively met and engaged with First Nations along the proposed pipeline route initiating First Nation input. Their approach has been to give aboriginal people the opportunity to address environmental concerns and to accommodate proportional economic value in the projects equity.
“But these things are not about money it’s about the environment reform in B.C. and [Eagle Spirit] told me if the environments not safe were not doing anything,” Chief Louie said.
Eagle Spirit has proposed that the environmental model needs to be developed by aboriginal people.
Chief Louie expressed his interest in their approach to developing a world-class environment model.
“The Eagle Spirit proposed model may afford our communities and others with a timely opportunity to confirm our support for an initiative that promotes our roles as environmental stewards…a role that is often ignored by government and industry,” Chief Louie said in a press release.