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‘It is our Standing Rock:’ Three First Nations announce lawsuit against Kinder Morgan and Feds


tsleil Waututh Press Conf.jpg

Photo from Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust

Earlier today, the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Coldwater Indian First Nations held a joint press conference to announce new legal action against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project and the federal government, as reported by CBC News.

For most observers, this will not come as a surprise and was previously announced by vocal indigenous land defenders, including Ruben George who is the manager for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative. Following the approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline in November, he had said: “We’ll do what it takes, period, to stop it.”, which included a mention of taking the decision to court.

During the Press Conference, Squamish Chief Ian Campbell pointed to the fundamental flaws in the process that lead the approval of the pipeline and state that the Squamish Nation’s grave concerns were not taken into consideration. The need for a nation to nation relationship that leads to consent was highlighted as well as the need to look at “economic opportunities that are an expression of our values and principles, not the willful destruction of lands and waters at the expense of our grandchildren.”

CBC News also highlighted a the following quotes from the press conference:

“We do not consent to the Kinder Morgan pipeline project in our territory. We are asking the court to overturn the federal cabinet’s decision to approve this project,” said Tsleil-Waututh Chief Maureen Thomas.

“It is our Standing Rock,” said Coldwater Chief Lee Spahan. “The existing Kinder Morgan pipeline was built through our reserve and above our aquifer at a time when it was illegal for us to vote or hire a lawyer …The Crown’s decision to put our drinking water at risk…is profoundly troubling.”

You can view the livescreen of the press conference via CBC Indigenous.

The Council of Canadians will continue to support indigenous land and water defenders who are at the frontlines of the struggle to stop the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

The NEB lists all of the legal challenges that are mounted against them HERE. It includes a total of 7 judicial reviews led by indigenous communities from Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Aitchelitz, Upper Nicola Ban, Coldwater Indian Band, Squamish and Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwepemc Nations.

There are two non-indigenous legal challenges that are tacked on to this. On December 20th Ecojustice filed a judicial review of the Trudeau government’s approval of the Trans Mountain project on behalf Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation. According to their press release, they “have applied to the court for leave for a judicial review of federal Cabinet’s approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project. The groups argue that Cabinet broke the law when it relied on the National Energy Board’s report that used an overly narrow interpretation of the law to avoid addressing harm to endangered Southern Resident killer whales and their critical habitat.”

The City of Burnaby has also filed its own judicial review.