'It is our Standing Rock:' First Nations announce legal actions against feds, Kinder Morgan
Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Coldwater First Nations challenge federal government's approval of pipeline
Three First Nations have announced they're taking legal action challenging the federal government's approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
Representatives from the Coldwater Indian Band near Merritt, along with the Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Nation held a joint news conference in Vancouver.
"It is our Standing Rock," said Coldwater Indian Band Chief Lee Spahan. "It is about our drinking water."
"The existing Kinder Morgan pipeline was built through our reserve and above our aquifer at a time when it was illegal for us to vote or hire a lawyer ...The Crown's decision to put our drinking water at risk...is profoundly troubling," he said.
Squamish Chief Ian Campbell said his nation's challenge will hinge on a lack of procedural fairness and a lack of meaningful consultation.
"We talk about an era of reconciliation but we do not see the actions that go with that," said Campbell. "The old status quo will no longer be acceptable — that of a colonial imposition to ride roughshod over Aboriginal rights and title within our own lands and waters."
"We do not consent to the Kinder Morgan pipeline project in our territory. We are asking the court to overturn the federal cabinet's decision to approve this project," said Tsleil-Waututh Chief Maureen Thomas in a release.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet approved the Kinder Morgan expansion project Nov. 29, 2016.
Last week the B.C. government approved the project after reaching an agreement with Kinder Morgan for up to $1 billion in investment over 20 years.
The pipeline expansion project will triple the amount of oil and oil products, including bitumen, in the 1,150-kilometre-long pipeline that runs from the oil sands near Edmonton to the Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby.
Oil tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet and surrounding B.C. waters will increase seven-fold when the pipeline is complete.