United Church of Canada Joins Pull Together to Support BC First Nations
The United Church of Canada has joined the Pull Together campaign to help finance the legal challenge that five BC First Nations have launched to stop the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Gitxaala, Nak’azdli, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Heiltsuk, and Nadleh Whut’en First Nations have sought judicial reviews on these grounds:
- failure to involve First Nations in the design of the decision-making process
- failure to provide necessary information to fully understand the risks and allow meaningful consultation about the project
- delaying direct consultation with First Nations until after the Joint Review Panel had made its recommendations
- failure to issue reasons for their decision that demonstrated how First Nations’ evidence and concerns were taken into account and how their title and rights were specifically accommodated
The campaign aims to raise $250,000 by the end of December. A major donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, will match every dollar raised.
A call has gone out to all churches within the ministry to participate for the month of November.
Donate to the Campaign
- Personally donate, and invite your friends to join the campaign. RAVEN Trust will issue charitable tax receipts.
- Create a team to spread the word, set a goal, and fundraise.
- Host a fundraising event that can also raise awareness of the issues. Use this toolkit to help you.
- KAIROS Canada offers an ethical reflection paper on the Northern Gateway Pipeline project, as well as a commentary on the joint review panel report and on the government approval.
- Case Study on Canada’s Disregard for Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent with respect to the Northern Gateway Pipeline [PDF: 7 pp/95 KB], written by John Dillon, Ecological Economy Program Coordinator at KAIROS Canada
- Read Forging Partnerships Building Relationships: Aboriginal Canadians and Energy Development [PDF: 58 pp/984 KB, on nrcan.gc.ca], the November 2013 report by Douglas Eyford, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Aboriginal and Energy Issues
- Pray for the healing of the land and the web of all life.
At its General Council meeting in August 2012, The United Church of Canada resolved to “publicly support the Native Ministries Council of British Columbia Conference in categorically rejecting construction of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.” Read the whole resolution.
Since then, the Joint Review Panel (appointed by Environment Canada and the National Energy Board) recommended that the project proceed as long as Enbridge meets 209 conditions. The Government of Canada agreed, saying that Enbridge “has more work to do in order to fulfill the public commitment it has made to engage with Aboriginal groups.”
In this way, the government has passed off its responsibility to properly consult with affected First Nations to a private company. Moreover it has failed to respect First Nations’ right to withhold consent.
The Northern Gateway bitumen export project sponsored by Enbridge Corporation would involve building two 1,177 kilometre pipelines between Bruderheim, Alberta, and Kitimat, British Columbia. One pipeline would carry 520,000 barrels a day of diluted bitumen from the tar sands to the west coast for shipment to Asia or to U.S. pacific ports. The other smaller pipeline would carry 193,000 barrels a day of lighter hydrocarbons called diluents eastward to be used to ease the shipment of the heavier bitumen.
Many Indigenous peoples who inhabit the interior and coastal regions of northern British Columbia strongly oppose a project that threatens their rights and livelihoods through the enormous ecological devastation that would occur in the event of a pipeline rupture or a marine spill. They point to the danger of a break in pipelines that would cross more than 1,000 streams and rivers through a landscape prone to major landslides as well as occasional earthquakes. Coastal nations are concerned that oil-laden supertankers would have to navigate the Hecate Strait, known as the fourth most dangerous body of water in the world, where wind gusts of up to 185 kilometres an hour are equivalent to a category three hurricane and waves, commonly as high as six to eight metres, have been known to reach a height of 26 metres.
In their 2010 Save the Fraser Declaration, the Indigenous Nations of the Fraser River watershed, peoples whose rights “have never been relinquished through treaty or war,”asserted that “the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines project … and the federal process to approve it, violate our laws, traditions, values and our inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples under international law.”
The Gitxaala, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Nadleh Whut’en, and Nak’azdli are in court to defend their traditional territory. They believe that the Government of Canada’s failure to adequately consult Indigenous peoples on the Northern Gateway Pipeline demonstrates a disregard for both the requirements of Canadian law as established by section 35 of the Constitution and the requirement to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent as contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
There is a United Church presence in Kitasoo/Xai’Xais and Heiltsuk First Nations, and many more congregations along the pipeline route.
At their October 2014 meetings, the United Church Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools and the Aboriginal Ministries Council endorsed the Pull Together campaign.
For More Information:
Cecile Fausak, General Council Liaison Minister,
Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools
E-mail: Cecile Fausak