Statement on First Nations Supreme Court ruling

January 21, 2016

The BCGEU enthusiastically supports the January 13 B.C. Supreme Court decision in favour of the Gitga’at First Nation and Coastal First Nations. This decision ruled that the B.C. government has completely failed in its duty to consult with First Nations on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project.
The court said it was not “reasonable or correct” for the province to sign over the environmental assessment approval to the federal government, ruling the equivalency agreement “invalid” and that the project cannot go forward until the B.C. government issues an environmental assessment certificate.

“The BCGEU is a steadfast supporter of First Nations' rights in the Fraser River basin and across Canada,” says BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch. “Governments have a legal and moral responsibility to engage in meaningful consultations with First Nations peoples, to gain their support before these projects can proceed. So far, the B.C. government  has spectacularly failed in this responsibility.”

The BCGEU is a proud supporter of the Save the Fraser declaration, an historic indigenous law banning oil sands pipelines and tankers in the Fraser River watershed. The union will engage in a signing ceremony for the ground-breaking declaration on February 4.

“This is a huge victory that affirms the provincial government’s duty to consult with and accommodate First Nations and to exercise its decision-making power on major pipeline projects,” said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at First Nation.

“It means the province must now sit down with First Nations communities across B.C. and find ways to address the severe and irreversible impacts of this project,” says Marilyn Slett, President of the Coastal First Nations.