Some Indigenous leaders say they will fight any pipeline projects or other work connected to expanding the oilsands in Alberta.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, of the Union of British Columbia Chiefs, says there are no conditions under which he can accept the expanded Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Alberta, currently being considered by the federal government.

Phillip says the environmental risks from increased tanker traffic are simply too great.

He says if the project gets the government's approval, the struggle will intensify and there will be more legal action.

Phillip was in Winnipeg, where many Manitoba chiefs signed on to a declaration that they will not allow pipelines, rail cars or other projects connected to the oilsands through their territory.

David Suzuki

Scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki stood alongside First Nations leaders (and took their pictures) in Winnipeg Tuesday to oppose pipeline projects and oilsands expansion. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Derek Nepinak, head of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, says governments and businesses must realize they cannot undertake projects in indigenous territory without full consent.

There were a number of empty seats in the meeting room. Nepinak said many chiefs are dealing with pressing issues in their communities such as housing. His office said so far 20 of 63 Manitoba chiefs have signed on to the Treaty Alliance against Tar Sands Expansion. The total number of signatories from across Canada is 100, the spokesperson said.

The treaty alliance, officially launched on Sept. 22 at signing events in Quebec and B.C., prohibits the passage through signatories' territories of the pipelines, trains and tankers that will feed the expansion of the Alberta oilsands.


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly had Grand Chief Stewart Phillip referring to the Northern Gateway project instead of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
    Nov 29, 2016 9:27 PM CT
With files from CBC's Nelly Gonzalez