Our Indigenous laws say that we must protect our land and waters from threats such as the
introduction of oil pipelines. They do not permit us to make any other decision. We have never given up our Title, Rights and legal authority over our lands. As self-governing Nations, we have a legal and moral responsibility to protect everyone from the harms that are sure to result if this pipeline is built.
Our laws state that we have a responsibility to ourselves, our ancestors, our descendants, and to all the people living in our territories and elsewhere to defend the health of our lands and waters. Our laws do not permit us to stand by and allow these oil pipelines to enter our shared Fraser River watershed.
Along with our more than 130 First Nations allies across BC and western Canada, our Nations are united as never before to protect against threats to our rivers, our ocean, and the plants, animals and fish that we rely on for our food, our livelihoods and our culture. We will not put them at risk.
Our communities rely on our lands and our waters every single day. We continue to sustain ourselves, and to feed our selves, and to keep ourselves healthy, from what the land provides.
Our entire culture, our language, our way of being in the world, are directly tied to the land and water and the creatures around us. Gathering our foods and medicines is one of the central parts of our culture, our families and our community life. Our very existence as separate peoples depends on this.
That’s why we can’t accept any risk of an oil spill. It doesn’t matter what technical safety measures that Enbridge promises, or how much money they are willing to offer. We simply will not allow our communities to be placed at this risk, and we will use all lawful means available to ensure that this tar sands pipeline and tanker project, or others like it in future, are not built in our territories.
The proposed Enbridge Northern Enbridge Gateway oil pipeline and tanker project would put our communities at grave risk in order to transport crude oil (diluted bitumen) by pipeline from the Alberta tar sands with the Pacific coast port of Kitimat, British Columbia, where supertankers will transport it to overseas markets.
Enbridge’s proposed 1172 km pipeline will cross approximately 50 First Nations territories and cross over 1,000 rivers and streams, including many fish-bearing streams of critical importance to Indigenous peoples, including the headwaters of the Fraser River (crossing the Stuart, Endako and Salmon Rivers) and the headwaters of the Skeena River (crossing the Sutherland, Morice and Bulkley watersheds). Each of these stream crossings will require two pipeline crossings, as the project consists of twinned pipelines. The project has the potential to seriously affect First Nations and other communities that rely on these rivers. The toxic effects of a spill could be felt for hundreds of kilometres, stretching down the entire length of the Fraser River to the sea. An oil spill into a river is impossible to ever clean up – most of the oil remains in the environment.
On the coast, 225 supertankers each year – many the size of the Empire State Building in New York City – would travel through extremely dangerous coastal waters, risking the entire coast with a massive and devastating oil spill of the type suffered by Alaskans with the Exxon Valdez. In Alaska, generations will continue to suffer the impact of that spill. Oil remains on the beaches to this day in Alaska and many species have never recovered. We won’t let this pipeline through our territories, and we stand with our brothers and sisters of the Coastal First Nations to stop oil tankers from ever threatening their people.
Enbridge, and the government of Canada, have signalled their intention to carry out this project on our lands whether or not we consent. To do so would result in a violation of our own laws, and our rights as protected in International and Canadian law. We will stop them, using our laws, our the Save the Fraser Declaration, and with the broad support of Canadians right across this country who understand that human health and prosperity requires clean rivers and clean coastlines, free from oil spills.