The Supreme Court of Canada announced this morning that they will grant leave to appeal to the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation to challenge the National Energy Board`s approval of Enbridge’s reversal of its Line 9 pipeline between Sarnia and Montreal.
The Chippewas of the Thames court case centers on the lack of consultation with the community about Line 9 which crosses through the First Nation’s traditional territory and would massively impact its land and water in the case of a spill.
The Canadian Constitution, under Section 35, states that First Nations have a right to be consulted on projects that could negatively impact their land yet neither Enbridge nor the government consulted with the Chippewa of the Thames on the project. The dangerous pipeline has been pumping crude since November.
Last October, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the Chippewas of the Thames challenge so they appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
"Line 9 has been flowing crude oil through Chippewas of the Thames traditional territory for 40 years without our consent. It is time for industry and governments to honour the treaties and wampum belt agreements. Indigenous nations and all residents of Canada are responsible for the safety of our Mother Earth!" said Myeengun Henry, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation at a rally last summer in Toronto.
Council of Canadians chapters in Ontario and Quebec have been actively opposing Line 9 and extend their solidarity to the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation.
A pipeline safety expert with over forty years of experience in the energy sector, Richard Kuprewicz, has stated that the probability of Line 9 rupturing is over 90% in the first five years of operation. This is due to the large number of fractures in the aging pipeline and the new, much heavier substance which has to be transported at a higher temperature and pressure.
With such a high probability of a spill, it is absolutely crucial that all 18 First Nations along the line be consulted.
In a statement released after the decision, Council of Canadians board chair Maude Barlow said “The decision to hear this appeal is an important step forward in convincing Canada to act on its commitment to the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples. The Trudeau government should live up to its election rhetoric and engage with the Chippewas of the Thames without delay. We stand with the community and support their right to protect their lands, waters and wildlife.”
The Supreme Court will hear the case in conjunction with the appeal of the Hamlet of Clyde River of a decision to allow seismic blasting for oil exploration in their Arctic community.