British Columbia

First Nations chief asks to meet B.C. premier over pipelines

A First Nations chief in northern B.C. is demanding a face-to-face meeting with the premier over pipeline projects.
Members of the Gitxsan First Nation blockade a CN railroad track in Kitwanga, B.C., between Terrace and Smithers, on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. The Gitxsan were supporting a nationwide day of Idle No Protests as well as local issues such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Robin Rowland)

A First Nations chief in northern B.C. is demanding a face-to-face meeting with the premier over pipeline projects.

Chief Martin Louie is a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance — a group of six nations living along the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline route.

Louie says he has invited Premier Christy Clark for a tour of his traditional territory and plans to take her to the lakes and rivers where his people fish. Louie says he hopes to show her what's at stake if there's an oil spill.

"All they are doing right now is telling everybody everything is OK. And it’s not OK," he said. "It’s never going to be OK until we actually sit face-to-face."

B.C.'s 5 conditions for Northern Gateway support

  1. Environmental review needs to be passed.
  2. World-leading marine oil spill prevention, response.
  3. World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response.
  4. First Nations opportunities, treaty rights respected.
  5. Fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits for B.C.

Louie says now that the election is over, there is an opportunity to create a new relationship, but he emphasized that the relationship must be between two governments — the B.C. Liberals and Canada’s First Nations.

"It's a reminder that most of the BC Indians have no treaty signed. We still own our land," Louie said.

"There has to be a definite re-establishment of our relationship. The government, industries, they can't go about doing their business thinking everything's OK because the laws they structured without any involvement from any First Nations in BC."

The Liberals have laid out five requirements all new crude oil pipelines will have to meet before they get provincial approval, one of those being First Nations participation.

In an e-mailed statement, the premier’s office says so far the Northern Gateways has yet to meet all five conditions.

And even though Louie wants to consult with Clark about pipelines, he says their stance is non-negotiable: pipelines are banned from their territory.

"Everybody's saying beautiful British Columbia, and that's the way it's going to be. And that's what we're going to fight for," he said.

With files from CBC’s Marissa Harvey