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NEWS: Gitxsan First Nation denies deal with Enbridge on Northern Gateway pipeline

Media reports have said that the Gitxsan First Nation supports the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

But the Vancouver Sun reports, “(Elected Gitxan First Nation Chief Marjorie McRae) and another chief, Norman Stephens, said their nation was ‘in shock and embarrassed’ after the announcement that the aboriginal community had become an ownership partner in Enbridge’s embattled $5.5-billion pipeline proposal. The announcement was made by Enbridge and Hereditary Chief Elmer Derrick, the Gitxsan’s chief treaty negotiator. Stephens and McRae said they have the support of hereditary chiefs and four of five Gitxsan communities comprising more than 6,000 people in denouncing the agreement. …Noting that Derrick is employed as the chief treaty negotiator to settle federal and provincial land claims, it makes no sense that he is dealing with Enbridge, Stephens said Sunday.”

“In an exclusive interview last week, Enbridge’s CEO Pat Daniel predicted that at least 30 of the 45 First Nations along the pipeline route from Bruderheim, Alta., near Edmonton, to Kitimat on the B.C. coast, will have deals with Enbridge by next June. And he said he hopes all 45 will be onside by 2013, when Enbridge hopes to get regulatory approval to start a project that is set to be completed by late 2017.”

In response to these apparent manoeuvres by Enbridge, “First Nations communities in northern B.C. held emergency meetings over the weekend to figure out how to scuttle a Northern Gateway pipeline deal with Enbridge announced Friday. …Gitxsan opponents are concerned about the effect of an oil spill on sensitive salmon streams and rivers, said Stephens. …The pipeline would pass by six streams that flow into Babine Lake, a vital resource to the Gitxsan. …The $7 million (the reported net profit for the Gitxsan over 30 years in this ‘deal’ with Enbridge) would not compensate for the damage of a spill, (Stephens) said. …(Stephens) said the announcement was part of Enbridge’s public relations strategy to counter Thursday’s coalition of 130 B.C. First Nations groups that vowed to present an ‘unbroken wall’ to block construction of the project.”

The Council of Canadians opposes the Northern Gateway pipeline.