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Gitga'at join legal challenge to Enbridge Northern Gateway approval

The Gitga'at Nation of Hartley Bay has launched its own court challenge seeking to stop the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

On Jan. 22 the Gitga'at filed a judicial review application in the Federal Court of Appeal, joining both the Gitxaala and Haisla Nations in seeking a legal ruling against the potential approval of the project. Like the filing by the Gitxaala last week, lawyers for the Gitga'at say the Joint Review Panel (JRP) erred in not properly considering evidence presented by the nation in regards to the potential impact the project would have on the community's way of life.

"The JRP came to our community and we bared our souls to them. We gave testimony and shared an important feast with them to demonstrate our connection with our territory through food. Clearly they didn't listen to us. It's like they were never here," said Gitga'at Chief Councillor Arnold Clifton.

"Today we're fighting an unlawful environmental assessment and review process that failed to meet its constitutional obligations to First Nations. We owe it to our children to defend our rights, our coastal communities and our way of life from the dangers of oil tanker traffic."

The application notes the Gitga'at are "highly vulnerable" to threats to the ecosystem and community wellbeing posed by increased tanker traffic, and list Gitga'at society, culture, identity, health and economy as areas at risk in the event of any potential spill.

Enbridge Northern Gateway spokesperson Ivan Giesbrecht, however, defends the lengthy process and the JRP ruling.

"The Joint Review process was based on sound science and evidence and was the most thorough and comprehensive proceeding in Canadian history. Northern Gateway's submission to the JRP was the most comprehensive application ever submitted: 30,000 pages, 180 days of hearings, and 80 expert witnesses including some of the foremost scientists and engineers in their fields," he said, noting the court challenges may not impact the approval time line for the project.

"At this stage, Northern Gateway does not believe this will necessarily delay the review by the Federal Government of the JRP's report."

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