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The Berger Report on the Mackenzie Valley pipeline is released

The Story


On May 9, 1977, Justice Thomas Berger releases a 240-page report that may be a death blow to the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline. Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland is the first of two volumes reporting the findings of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry. To the federal government's surprise, it recommends a 10-year moratorium on pipeline construction while native land claims are settled, and a permanent ban on any pipeline from Alaska across the northern Yukon.

Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: May 9, 1977
Guests: Jeff Carruthers, Stephen Kakfwi, Ian Scott
Host: Allan McFee
Interviewer: Max Ferguson
Duration: 12:56

Did You know?


• Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland was written in simple, clear language and made heavy use of photographs to depict the land being discussed. The popular report was reprinted by Douglas and McIntyre in 1988 and became a bestseller.
• The title of Justice Berger's report sent a clear message that the Mackenzie Valley was not just a construction site, but was also the home of a people who care deeply about the land.

• "We look upon the North as our last frontier. It is natural for us to think of developing it, of subduing the land and extracting its resources to fuel Canada's industry and heat our homes," Berger wrote. "But the native people say the North is their homeland. They have lived there for thousands of years. They claim it is their land, and they believe they have a right to say what its future ought to be."

• In his report Berger warned that any gas pipeline would be followed by an oil pipeline, and that the infrastructure required to support this "energy corridor" would be enormous. He said the roads, airports, maintenance bases and new towns that would be built would have a social and environmental impact equivalent to building a railway across Canada.

• Stephen Kakfwi was a vocal opponent of the pipeline and organized the Dene nation's presentations to the Berger Inquiry. Afterwards he entered politics and became president of the Dene Nation. In 2000 he became premier of the Northwest Territories and voiced his support for construction of a pipeline from Alaska and the Mackenzie River delta down the Mackenzie Valley.


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The Berger Pipeline Inquiry more