Canada | Opinion

Opinion: Native leaders speak out against proposed pipeline

"Peter Foster's suggestion ("Opposing big business is big business" May 31) that members of the Yinka Dene Alliance have been manipulated into rejecting the proposed Enbridge pipeline by the "green movement," reveals a deep misunderstanding of the laws, culture, history and strength of the Carrier people.

We speak for ourselves, and our decision is based on our extensive consideration of the risks of this pipeline, and the views of our elders, our youth, and our entire community.

We have occupied our traditional territory, located in the central interior of what is now known as British Columbia, since time immemorial. We have never ceded our lands or given up our right to govern them. Central to our culture is our responsibility to look after our land, the same way it looks after us -something we have done for millennia. As Saik'uz First Nation Chief Jackie Thomas says, "Our people were the first environmentalists."

For example, when the health of the rivers and fish on our land was jeopardized by Alcan's plans to expand the Kemano dam project in the 1980s, our mothers and grandmothers organized a campaign that convinced the province that the environmental cost was too high. Having saved the rivers, we worked with government to develop a plan to revitalize the salmon and other fish stocks which had suffered from years of disruption to habitat and spawning grounds. We continue our traditional role as stewards of the land by advocating for sustainable development on our territories."

Get the Story:
Larry Nooski, Fred Sam, Dolly Abraham, Karen Ogen, Jackie Thomas: First nations speak for themselves on pipelines (The Vancouver Sun 6/13)

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