Ottawa brings pipelines pitch to B.C. First Nations
Federal ministers and officials are expected to meet with First Nations communities this week with the goal of winning support for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion and Northern Gateway pipeline projects.
Last week, First Nations leaders in B.C. confirmed they are to meet today in Vancouver with a delegation of deputy ministers from Aboriginal Affairs, Natural Resources, Environment and other departments with direct oversight of the proposed projects.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also directed key ministers on the file to promote the projects in the province. They include Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, who is in B.C. to attend hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver sees these projects as transformative opportunities for First Nations communities.
"We've got to approach this with sensitivity. And the industry has to be open to their participation, so that they derive significant benefits from the developments which are in or near their territory," says Oliver.
But Coastal First Nations executive director Art Sterritt sees things differently.
"This is our opportunity to let a group of deputy ministers know directly that Northern Gateway is a dead project."
Sterritt says no amount of government meetings will change their position on the pipeline.
"It's in the wrong place. It's trying to do the wrong thing. And it's not going to happen. And they're going to learn that. They're going to learn that in spades by coming out and talking to First Nations in British Columbia."