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Hundreds testify before Berger

The Story


The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry is burgeoning into the biggest public inquiry in Canadian history. Now in its second year, the inquiry hears from over 1,000 Indigenous people in seven languages, and over 500 southern whites. The scope is ever expanding, and the process is groundbreaking: the federal government funds research by Native, environmental and community groups, and Berger turns the hearings into a major media event.

Medium: Television
Program: The Fifth Estate
Broadcast Date: Nov. 30, 1976
Guest: Thomas Berger
Host: Adrienne Clarkson
Duration: 3:57

Did You know?


• The inquiry revealed a growing rift between Native and Métis peoples on development issues. Indian Brotherhood president Georges Erasmus said his people were not ready for the changes a pipeline would bring, and needed at least 10 years to prepare. Métis Association president Rick Hardy announced that his association supported the pipeline. Soon after, the federal government approved separate funding for Métis and Native land claims, though it said there would be only one settlement.

• Many businessmen in cities like Yellowknife were extremely critical of Berger and the hearings. Lawyer and Territorial Council speaker David Searle claimed Native people were being coerced into presenting a common anti-pipeline front, and said that white residents were afraid to speak out lest they be branded "a racist and a bigot."

• Throughout the hearings, Justice Berger made many television appearances, but he was extraordinarily careful not to reveal his own thoughts on the pipeline. He simply told reporters to wait until his report was tabled.


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