Nadleh Whut’en First Nation Chief Martin Louie today, at the Eagle Spirit Chief’s Gathering, stated that he will continue to focus on the protection of the land as a way to support moving resource development projects forward in BC. Chief Louie encourages both the B.C. and Alberta governments to engage in a more meaningful and respectful way, which is not simply based on a “minimum requirement for the legal definition of “consultation”. Integration of this new regulatory approach within the context of the current regulatory system will ensure that the land, water, fish and wildlife are protected should this project be approved and proceeds to construction.
Chief Louie said, “What is shared amongst First Nations is our concern for the protection of environment and that none of us should provide a blanket endorsement of resource development in our territories. The Nadleh Whut’en Council concluded that it is essential for our community to participate with other First Nations to develop an environmental model that all users of natural resources will abide with.
Eagle Spirit, from the beginning, actively met and engaged with First Nations along the proposed pipeline right-of-way. Eagle Spirit understood that First Nations are stewards of the land who wanted and needed the opportunity to learn about the project and have the opportunity to engage and provide input. Eagle Spirit proposed that the environmental model needs to be developed by aboriginal people and will go a long way towards addressing the environmental concerns of our communities and accommodating proportional economic value to flow from First Nations equity in the project. I’m interested in Eagle Spirit’s purported approach to developing a world-class environmental model. Time will tell if it can live up to its billing, and I’m prepared to commit my time and energy to ensure this process will meet the standards of all aboriginals in BC, thereby creating a world-class First Nation’s driven environmental model.”
Chief Louie continued “We stand beside our First Nations neighbours who are also concerned about resource activity that is seemingly permitted by government agencies without our consent. We can’t and won’t stand idly by and allow this to happen. The environmental model developed by aboriginal will be about changing the resource development landscape for the benefit of First Nations communities. The Nadleh Whut’en council look forward to working side by side with other First Nations communities and our own membership to ask the tough questions and seek out and assess viable solutions. The cost of saying no to any project without proper due diligence is, too costly and inconsistent with good leadership. The Eagle Spirit proposed model may afford our communities and others with a timely opportunity to confirm our support for an initiative that promotes our roles as environmental stewards…a role that is often ignored by government and industry.”
Chief Louie continued “We feel that creating a model that allows all the First Nations of BC to take part in, would allow us to achieve economic returns through active participation and partnerships, while providing confidence that our concerns for a healthy environment be incorporated into the plans and development.”
Chief Louie and his Council will await the results of an upcoming referendum on whether community support can be provided to influence how Eagle Spirit Energy reviews environmental impacts of an upgrader oil pipeline.
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