Anti-pipeline alliance asks UN for help

The Yinka Dene Alliance is asking for a United Nations special rapporteur to investigate the provincial government on the Enbridge pipeline.

The Yinka Dene Alliance is asking for a United Nations special rapporteur to investigate the actions of the provincial government concerning the Enbridge pipeline.

The alliance, of which Saik’uz and Nak’azdli nations are a part, readily admits that they’re scared of what could happen if the pipeline comes through and this latest action is a result of the temporary land use permits issued to Enbridge in August.

The UN envoy, James Anaya, will be visiting Canada from October 7 to 15 to submit a report to the Canadian government and the United Nations human rights council.

The permits allow Enbridge to occupy three sites within the Nak’azdli territory on the banks of the Stuart River.

Ivan Giesbrecht spoke to the Omineca Express before the request went out and said that the permits were only there to provide information that was requested by Aboriginal groups and officials at the Joint Review Panel hearings. He had said that the permits were not pushing the Northern Gateway pipeline forward, but only assessments that need to be completed.

“They are two separate things entirely,” Giesbrecht had said. After the UN request went out Omineca Express spoke again with Giesbrecht who said that Enbridge and the Northern Gateway project are fully compliant with the legally established provincial process which they are currently carrying out.

The federal joint review panel will deliver its recommendations on the project to the federal minister by the end of the year.

“The whole way the project was initiated raised flags all over the place,” said Jackie Thomas, former chief of the Saik’uz, now land and resource coordinator. “We did our own study and found that it was not safe. We consulted with outrcommunities and they said no. So they came back again in 2008 and they asked us to join the joint review panel system and when we took a look at it we saw it was a flawed process. They can’t deal with titles and rights and the prime minister could just overturn any decision that they make anyway.”

On entering Jackie Thomas’ office, one can see the big pile of papers that the government and Enbridge expect a small group to get through. A task for a team of lawyers, which makes it difficult for an alliance of pipeline protesters. The Yinka Dene Alliance and Saik’uz nation are being overrun by referrals and legal documents sent to their office. They believe that the Enbridge will also overrun the coast if the tankers are allowed to transport oil.

“That inlet is so small, they’re talking about a hundred super tankers a day, each one bigger than a football field. That’s just an accident waiting to happen,” said Geraldine Thomas-Flurer, the Yinka Dene Alliance spokesperson.

Geraldine and Jackie showed the Omineca Express a letter from Enbridge written to Chief Fred Sam of the Nak’azdli Band. In it, Malcolm MacPherson, regional manager of Aboriginal relations writes that they do not intend to conduct any work under these permits at this time.

But the Yinka Dene representatives said that there are workers out on the sites right now. They also say that there are 33 permits that have been issued. They believe this is all to keep them quiet so the work under the permits can continue.

The Alliance said that they hope that the people of Vanderhoof and the rest of the affected areas, speak up and stand with the Yinka Dene Alliance, as they need all the support they can get.