TWO LOCAL First Nations say they haven’t signed any deals with Enbridge to take on an ownership stake in its planned Northern Gateway Pipelines project.
And Kitsumkalum chief councillor Don Roberts has called insulting an Enbridge claim that 60 per cent of the First Nations along the 1,170km pipeline route have signed on.
Roberts said Enbridge is trying to use First Nations’ constitutionally-enshrined rights and title as a way of bolstering its project.
“[Enbridge] has got to show where it’s coming from,” said Roberts, of what First Nations account for the 60 per cent statistic. “If Enbridge is wrong on those figures … it’s perjury.
“I’m really finding it hard to believe,” he continued. “[Enbridge is] playing around with people.”
“Almost 60 per cent of eligible Aboriginal communities along the proposed right of way, representing 60 per cent of the First Nations’ population (and 80 per cent of the combined First Nations’ and Metis’ population) have agreed to be part owners of the proposed Northern Gateway pipelines,” Enbridge said in a June 5 press release.
The equity stake amounts to 10 per cent of the proposed $5.5 billion project to transport Alberta crude to a marine export terminal at Kitimat.
“Half of the equity units taken up went to groups in British Columbia, and the other half to groups in Alberta,” said the statement in attributing the information to Enbridge official Paul Stanway.
While Kitselas First Nation chief councillor Judy Gerow says it has also not signed an equity deal with Enbridge it has not said it either supports or rejects the project.
The Kitselas are conducting a technical review of the section of the pipeline which would affect its traditional territory.
“We don’t have any type of agreement with Enbridge,” said chief councillor Judy Gerow last week. “In fact, we’re still undergoing our independent study.”
The independent study, she said, is so that the Kitselas can review environmental and technical information on its own instead of relying on what it is told by Enbridge.
“Well, we just want to make sure, you know, that we know what’s going on and that it’s coming from our people,” said Gerow. “They’ll put their report together and it will be presented to council for a decision.”
Enbridge’s Kevin Brown said last week that the company has signed confidentiality agreements with First Nations preventing it, for now, from releasing names.
But he said the company will release all the information during the next round of hearings to be conducted by the federal panel reviewing the project.
At some point, the [Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel] is going to want to know what Enbridge has done to build good relationships with First Nations, he said. When the time is right we’ll be happy (to release that information.)