TheCanadian government is expected to make a decision on the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal in the coming months. Despite a lengthy review process, the federal government has still not adequately addressed the rights of First Nations who would be affected by the pipeline.
In 2011, 61 First Nations in British Columbia whose traditional territories would be crossed by the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, or who depend on downstream or coastal waters, issued a declaration opposing the oil sands pipeline. They called the pipeline a “grave threat” to their cultures and to future generations.
The federal government must listen to these and other First Nations and agree that the pipeline will not go ahead without their consent.
4 reasons why the Northern Gateway pipeline must not be approved against the wishes of affected First Nations:
- Indigenous peoples have the right to make their own decisions about how and when their lands will be used.
- Canadian courts have clearly said that the failure to negotiate treaties or other resolution of longstanding land and resource disputes should not give governments the power to “run roughshod” over Indigenous peoples’ rights.
- International human rights standards, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, require the highest standard of precaution in all decisions potentially affecting Indigenous peoples’ relationship with their lands and territories.
- When there is potential for serious harm – whether because of the scale and nature of the project or because of the harms that have already been inflicted on Indigenous peoples – the standard of precaution required is that decisions should be made with Indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent