Assembly of First Nations Responds to Joint Review Panel Report on Proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project

OTTAWA, Dec. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and AFN British Columbia Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould commented on today's Joint Review Panel report on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project.  The report recommends the pipeline be approved by the federal government subject to 209 conditions that must be addressed.

"Today's recommendation by the Joint Review Panel will be of serious concern to many First Nations, especially those who have stated clear and vocal opposition to this project," said National Chief Atleo.  "The fact that the report sets out 209 conditions indicates that there are real problems with the existing plan that could have severe and lasting consequences for our communities and traditional territories.  We strongly remind the federal government that First Nations hold unique inherent rights and title related to their lands and traditional territories that must be fully respected, recognized and addressed in any decision on this project.  The recent Eyford report calls for real engagement with First Nations and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says any development can only proceed if it meets the standard of free, prior and informed consent by First Nations.  We must have new conversations and new structures that fully respect First Nations rights and interests. This is the path to reconciliation and to mutual benefit that respects rights and our inherent and collective duties to protect the lands, waters and environment."

Today's report details the Joint Review Panel's recommendation to the federal government on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project.  The proposed 1,177 kilometre pipeline would carry 525,000 barrels of oil a day from northern Alberta to the Pacific Coast, passing through the lands and traditional territories of many First Nations.

AFN British Columbia Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould stated, "Tension and anxiety among our Nations and indeed many Canadians rises today with the release of the Joint Review Panel report. First Nations have proprietary rights and other rights along the route of the proposed pipeline and Canada must deal directly with these rights holders. How Canada responds, both in the short and long term, to the panel report recommendations, in particular the ones dealing with Aboriginal rights, will have profound implications for its relationship with Aboriginal peoples, the future of this project and natural resource development generally. In light of the Joint Review Panel findings, and building on the constructive recommendations recently released in the Eyford Report, we strongly urge the Government of Canada to develop an appropriate framework across government and demonstrate their commitment to engage directly with our Nations on the Northern Gateway Project as well as other resource development initiatives in our traditional territories."

The federal government has 180 days to respond to the Joint Review Panel report.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information:

Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca

Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca