(Lheidli T’enneh Territory, Prince George, BC – April 17, 2018) – The BC Assembly of First Nation (BCAFN) is a political First Nations organization that advocates and supports its member First Nations in BC. The BCAFN also is a regional organization of the national Assembly of First Nations (AFN). There are currently 203 First Nations that are members of the BCAFN. Over 50 First Nation territories could be affected by the Kinder Morgan Transmountain Pipeline project (TMX); an additional 30+ First Nations could be affected by increased shipping traffic from the TMX project. Yesterday, Prime Minister Trudeau met with the Premiers from BC and Alberta to discuss the impasse on permitting for the TMX. First Nations leaders were not invited, which concerns the BCAFN and AFN.
Any legislative options to enforce federal jurisdiction for the TMX must include respect for and adherence to First Nations rights and title, including the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration). There are several First Nation’s legal challenges of the TMX project before the Federal Court of Appeal, which will shed new light regarding the future of the TMX project. The federal government has also recently committed to a new Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework, which includes the implementation of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the full implementation of the UN Declaration – these include the requirement for First Nations to provide their free, prior and informed consent, especially to major projects.
Regional Chief Teegee stated, “First Nations in BC have rights that are acknowledged and protected by Canadian and international laws. These rights are inherent, they are not given to First Nations by any government; they have them as a matter of existing before colonialism.” He added, “The TMX project brings both opportunities and risks. The Crown must adhere to the laws that protect First Nations rights, and Kinder Morgan Canada must abide by the regulations and permits, regardless how stringent.” All Canadians enjoy the beauty of our lands and resources because of our sustainable practices.
Balancing development, growth and environmental health are important for First Nations. Regional Chief Teegee said, “First Nations have also been concerned that this project was reviewed using a flawed process lead by the National Energy Board. As we work to improve federal and provincial environmental assessments, it must also be an option to follow First Nations laws related to major project reviews.” He added, “First Nations have inherent rights and jurisdiction to assert their right to govern and decide projects.”
For further information, contact:
Regional Chief Terry Teegee.
Phone: (250) 299-2030.
BC Assembly of First Nations