B.C. chief tells pipeline hearings his people are responsible for their land

The hearings in Victoria will gather evidence from Indigenous groups about the pipeline expansion project

Protection of salmon, animals and the land in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia is an eternal responsibility of First Nations and the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline poses risks that could harm the homes and culture of Aboriginal Peoples, the National Energy Board heard Monday.

But Chief Tyrone McNeil of the Sto:lo Tribal Council and councillor Andrew Victor of the Cheam First Nation did not say they are completely opposed to the expansion project as the board began hearings in Victoria.

Victor said the Sto:lo, which includes the Cheam First Nation, want to see grounds for the pipeline expansion project, including the completion of environmental assessments that examine the risks and impacts of a spill.

RELATED: Energy board to hear traditional Indigenous evidence in Trans Mountain review

The council also wants to be part of ongoing consultations and environmental assessments, he added.

“We need to see justification,” said Victor. “The Sto:lo face uncertainty with the project’s impacts to our way of life. We want to see it done right.”

After he testified, McNeil said: “In our tribal council, some of our communities support it, others don’t.”

The hearings in Victoria will gather evidence from Indigenous groups about the pipeline expansion project and its potential impact on the marine environment. The board was in Calgary earlier this month and will hold hearings in Nanaimo, B.C., from Dec. 3 to 6.

The new hearings are being held after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the original approval for the expansion, saying the federal government didn’t adequately consult with First Nations or consider the impact of tanker traffic on the marine environment.

The board says 30 Indigenous interveners from B.C., Alberta and the United States will participate in the hearings in Victoria.

McNeil told the board the Sto:lo call the Fraser River their mother because it feeds and nurtures them.

RELATED: Round two of NEB hearings for Trans Mountain comes to Victoria

“We’ve been here since the start of time,” said McNeil. “We’re going to continue to be here. That’s why we’re here this morning, for us to continue to look after what’s important to us.”

He said the Sto:lo believe they are responsible for looking after everything they see, including the Chinook salmon, the main food source for threatened southern resident killer whales.

“Part of this conversation needs to be what safeguards are in place to start a project like this,” McNeil said. “When we say everything, that’s in English the land, that’s the water, that’s the air, that’s the four-legged, the winged, the crawlers, the diggers, everything. Whether they are human or not, we’ve got a responsibility for it.”

The federal government announced last May it would spend $4.5 billion to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan. Expansion of the pipeline would triple the capacity of the line from northern Alberta to Burnaby, B.C.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Violin meets piano in The Red Violin at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Jasper Wood joins the Bergmann Duo for an intimate morning concert in Chilliwack

Bold and brazen singer Begonia brings colourful show to Tractorgrease in Chilliwack

The musician from Winnipeg is equally comfortable singing lullabies, headbangers and ballads

PHOTOS: Home, Leisure and Outdoor Living Expo runs all weekend in Chilliwack

There are more than 250 vendors set up for the annual home show at Chilliwack Heritage Park

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

Province bringing 421 new affordable childcare spaces to Fraser Valley

Supporting early childhood educators and creating spaces go hand in hand, minister says

VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Henderson at the Chilliwack SPCA

Henderson, also known as Biggy, has FIV, a virus similar to HIV in humans

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

Surrey tells Uber to cease operations in city, but company ‘respectfully’ declines

Ridesharing company told to stop operating within the city by 9 p.m. Jan. 24

Coronavirus concerns cause cancellation of Langley Lunar New Year celebration

Close to 1,000 were expected to attend the annual Live In Langley event on Saturday

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

Most Read