Trans Mountain pipeline hearings with Indigenous groups start in Calgary
Reconsideration hearings to be held in Calgary, Victoria and Nanaimo, B.C.
A rooftop smudging ceremony where herbs were burned and prayers said served as a proxy for swearing in as the oral traditional evidence gathering part of a National Energy Board reconsideration of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project began Tuesday.
The federal government bought Trans Mountain and its expansion project for $4.5 billion last summer only to have the Federal Court of Appeal strike down its NEB approval, citing inadequate Indigenous consultation and failure to consider impacts on marine environment.
The NEB invited approximately 45 Indigenous intervenors from Canada and the United States to provide oral testimony.
Tuesday's session heard from representatives of the Louis Bull Tribe, which is about 80 kilometres south of Edmonton, and the Makah Tribal Council, who joined by phone from Washington state.
Lyne Mercier, vice-chair of the NEB and chairwoman of the three-member panel, welcomed Indigenous presenters from the Louis Bull Tribe as the first to speak as the hearings got underway.
She said the NEB appreciates that the Louis Bull Tribe has a tradition of sharing knowledge from one generation to another through spoken word, noting that two hours had been set aside for presentations but video evidence could also be submitted if time runs short.
Presenters including elder Ivy Raine and band administrator and member Allison Adams-Bull described their family ties to other Indigenous communities along the pipeline route to the West Coast and their concern that their traditional hunting, fishing and gathering of medicinal plants could be affected by a pipeline spill.
On Wednesday, the Driftpile Cree First Nation will testify, and on Thursday representatives of the Whitefish Lake First Nation, the Tsuut'ina Nation and the Papaschase First Nation will speak.
Hearings will then be held in Victoria from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29 and in Nanaimo, B.C., from Dec. 3 to Dec. 6.
Retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci is leading the new consultation process with Indigenous people.
The national energy regulator is on a tight timeline to reconsider its approval of the pipeline project.
The NEB's final report needs to be submitted to the federal cabinet by Feb. 22, 2019.
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With files from The Canadian Press