Chief Sharleen Wildeman. Photo by James Waterman.
“We are extremely concerned about a massive giveaway of water from our rivers and lakes, without any credible process identifying what the long-term impacts will be on our land, our families and on our community. …We will continue to fight all water licence decisions until the Province comes to the table with local and First Nations communities to plan how we will address this new and unprecedented rush for water in our land.” – Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Sharleen Wildeman
A Fort Nelson First Nation media release yesterday notes, “There are 20 long-term water licence applications before the province that would permit natural gas companies to withdraw tens of billions of litres of water annually from rivers and lakes in Fort Nelson First Nation territory. The water will be permanently withdrawn and mixed with highly toxic chemicals for shale gas extraction. …In a ground-breaking decision by BC’s Environmental Appeal Board last week, the Fort Nelson First Nation won the right under the provincial Water Act to appeal a provincial government decision awarding Nexen Inc. rights to withdraw 2 billion litres of water per year out of North Tsea Lakes. The province opposed the Nation’s legal right to do so.” The media release is at http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/924989.
The Globe and Mail reports this morning, “Ms. Wildeman, whose 800-member band is located near the booming Horn River gas fields, … is upset with a government consultation process ‘that has stalled’, and she said the band is demanding five conditions be met before any new water licences are approved. She said the band wants baseline environmental studies done before licences are issued; multi-year development plans filed in advance to identify proposed water sources, gas-well sites, roads and camps; environmental plans that cap water withdrawals at ecologically acceptable levels; protection of culturally significant land and water resources, and an agreement that environmental impact monitoring and enforcement will be done by an independent body. …Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said provincial and national native organizations support the band’s call for greater restrictions on water licences. ‘We’ll do whatever it takes to stop this travesty,’ he said of the industry demands for water.” This news article is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/native-band-in-northeast-bc-pushes-for-water-licensing-reform/article5268459/.
The public forum yesterday evening in Vancouver. Photo by Maryam Adrangi.
About 100 people (including Council of Canadians campaigner Maryam Adrangi and organizer Harjap Grewal) attended the ‘We Can’t Sacrifice Our Water for Shale Gas’ public forum on this issue in Vancouver last night. Speakers included Chief Sharleen Wildeman, Caleb Behn (who participated in our ‘no pipelines, no tankers’ speaking tour), and Ben Parfitt from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. More about the event at http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/371768782911863/?fref=ts. In late-September, Maude Barlow spoke at the ‘Keepers of the Water VI’ conference in Fort Nelson. More on that at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16862 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16946.