On July 7, 2019, a number of the First Nations — including all four of the Pull Together nations supported by RAVEN — filed lawsuits to judicially review the federal government’s recent re -pproval of the Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project.
After hearing from leadership of Tsleil-Waututh, Coldwater, Squamish and Secwepemc Nations, we’re feeling energized and optimistic about the likelihood that we’ll have the same outcome as last time — which was stopping this project dead in its tracks and quashing the TMX approvals.
One by one, leaders spoke about how, despite having been told by the Federal Court of Appeal that original consultations with Nations fell well short of the mark set by the Canadian constitution, this latest round of talks was shoddy and rushed.
Says Chief Ron Ignace of Secwepemc Nation, “Consultation has to be more than ‘ticking boxes’. The process was hurried, and we were not given resources to have a robust opportunity to respond. This round of consultations was equally poor — if not worse — than the previous flawed consultation.”
According to Eugene Kung, staff lawyer for West Coast Environmental Law, “unfortunately our federal government continues its pursuit of the legal floor or the minimum when it comes to consultation and what happens when you aim for the floor and you miss what you’re aiming for is you get quashed in court. That’s what we saw last time.
Government claims that they’ve learned their lesson, that they’re doing better but the reality is: you cannot have reconciliation by running roughshod over Indigenous rights, by forcing a pipeline without the consent of Indigenous Peoples.”
It’s inspiring and hopeful that Nations are willing to carry on a long fight against a project that threatens their very survial as peoples. We heard from leadership how grateful they are that there is a movement of people standing beside them, ready to support their strategic legal actions. Their cases are strong, but they need us to pitch in.
Chief Ignace goes on to appeal to ordinary citizens not to let this injustice stand. “I want to say to ordinary people: our fight is not with you, it’s with the leaders that are making these kinds of decision. You as citizens have a duty to see that your governments do the right thing by us.”
Ready to take a stand for Indigenous Peoples? Donate at https://pull-together.ca