B.C. chief tells pipeline hearings his people are responsible for their land

The hearings in Victoria will gather evidence from Indigenous groups about the pipeline expansion project

Protection of salmon, animals and the land in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia is an eternal responsibility of First Nations and the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline poses risks that could harm the homes and culture of Aboriginal Peoples, the National Energy Board heard Monday.

But Chief Tyrone McNeil of the Sto:lo Tribal Council and councillor Andrew Victor of the Cheam First Nation did not say they are completely opposed to the expansion project as the board began hearings in Victoria.

Victor said the Sto:lo, which includes the Cheam First Nation, want to see grounds for the pipeline expansion project, including the completion of environmental assessments that examine the risks and impacts of a spill.

RELATED: Energy board to hear traditional Indigenous evidence in Trans Mountain review

The council also wants to be part of ongoing consultations and environmental assessments, he added.

“We need to see justification,” said Victor. “The Sto:lo face uncertainty with the project’s impacts to our way of life. We want to see it done right.”

After he testified, McNeil said: “In our tribal council, some of our communities support it, others don’t.”

The hearings in Victoria will gather evidence from Indigenous groups about the pipeline expansion project and its potential impact on the marine environment. The board was in Calgary earlier this month and will hold hearings in Nanaimo, B.C., from Dec. 3 to 6.

The new hearings are being held after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the original approval for the expansion, saying the federal government didn’t adequately consult with First Nations or consider the impact of tanker traffic on the marine environment.

The board says 30 Indigenous interveners from B.C., Alberta and the United States will participate in the hearings in Victoria.

McNeil told the board the Sto:lo call the Fraser River their mother because it feeds and nurtures them.

RELATED: Round two of NEB hearings for Trans Mountain comes to Victoria

“We’ve been here since the start of time,” said McNeil. “We’re going to continue to be here. That’s why we’re here this morning, for us to continue to look after what’s important to us.”

He said the Sto:lo believe they are responsible for looking after everything they see, including the Chinook salmon, the main food source for threatened southern resident killer whales.

“Part of this conversation needs to be what safeguards are in place to start a project like this,” McNeil said. “When we say everything, that’s in English the land, that’s the water, that’s the air, that’s the four-legged, the winged, the crawlers, the diggers, everything. Whether they are human or not, we’ve got a responsibility for it.”

The federal government announced last May it would spend $4.5 billion to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan. Expansion of the pipeline would triple the capacity of the line from northern Alberta to Burnaby, B.C.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Sailings filling up on Northern Sea Wolf

There is a strong demand for the service

New ownership group presents Mount Timothy Resort plans

‘More activity and more people on the hill means more fun’

Thunderstorms in forecast for much of Cariboo Chilcotin

Special weather statements, concerns of flash flooding, for southern B.C. regions

Two Nuxalk artists awarded YVR Art Foundation scholarships

Several Nuxalk artists have won the award, some more than once

Concerns over democracy as Senate committee votes to nix oil tanker ban

Critics of the Senate’s recommendation to kill Bill C-48 say it goes against popular will

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

Most Read