British Columbia

B.C. Indigenous leaders to speak at Kinder Morgan AGM in Houston

Chief Judy Wilson and Rueben George say shareholders need to be made aware of the risks Aboriginal title presents to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

'Emergency' trip to tell shareholders about risks of Aboriginal title to Trans Mountain pipeline project

First Nations, environmentalists, politicians and residents take part in a water ceremony along Burrard Inlet across from Kinder Morgan's Westridge Marine Terminal in May 2017. (CBC)

Two B.C. Indigenous leaders have announced an "emergency" trip to Houston to "warn" investors at Kinder Morgan's Annual General Meeting about proceeding with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band near Chase, B.C., and Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nations Sacred Trust Initiative say they will present an overview of Indigenous opposition to the project. 

"Kinder Morgan has not explained the legal reality of our Indigenous rights in B.C. to the shareholder," said Wilson. "Whatever is being represented isn't the full story."

Chief Judy Wilson from the Neskonlith Nation expects to speak at the Kinder Morgan AGM in Houston on Wednesday. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The main argument Wilson and George will present is that Aboriginal people hold the underlying title to land that the pipeline expansion will be crossing — so it is their approval that is needed, not the federal or provincial governments'.

"It's got to be pointed out that the opposition is backed by the recognition of our Aboriginal and title rights by the Canadian constitution and the over 150 court decision that were won by First Nations," said Wilson.

Wilson and George have been given a proxy by the Comptroller of the State of New York, which will allow them to speak at the Wednesday meeting.

Rueben George will address Kinder Morgan shareholders on behalf of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, which is located directly across from Kinder Morgan's Westridge terminal where the pipeline ends. (CBC)

The pair will speak on behalf of the New York State Common Retirement Fund's shareholder proposal on sustainability, as part of a resolution seeking to recognize that environmental and social governance issues present a risk to business.

Seven First Nations are among more than a dozen groups challenging the National Energy Board's approval of the project in Federal Appeal Court.

Last month Kinder Morgan suspended all non-essential work on the pipeline, citing "extraordinary political risks" that were out of the company's control.

With files from CBC's The Early Edition.