09 Jul 2012
While cedar canoes took centre stage, oil tankers were on the mind of many at the annual Whey-ah-Wichen canoe festival for Tsleil-Waututh Nation over the weekend.
TWN’s traditional village site in North Vancouver was the scene of two days of races as well as the signing of the Save the Fraser Declaration. When Chief Justin George added his signature to the declaration, he acknowledged the work of the Yinka Dene Alliance.
The Alliance document is an Indigenous law that bans oil sands pipelines through First Nations traditional territories. It also bans oil tankers in the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon on the north and south coasts of BC. More than 100 First Nations, from the U.S. border to the Arctic Ocean have now signed the document.
"Tsleil-Waututh stands together with First Nations and all British Columbians who do not support pipeline expansion and increased tanker traffic," said Chief George. "As People of the Inlet, it is our birthright and obligation to care for the lands and waters of our territory. Pipeline expansion is a risk too great to accept."
TWN is also opposing the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. Its terminus is on the south shore of Burrard Inlet in Burnaby. The expansion would more than double current pipeline capacity.
Kinder Morgan recently filed a commercial tolling application with the National Energy Board. The application relates to the approval of the contract terms and toll structure that would be implemented on the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Tsleil-Waututh Nation will act as an intervenor in the application process.
Chief George said that TWN experienced first-hand the impacts of an oil spill when, in 2007, a spill near Kinder Morgan’s Westridge terminal discharged about 234,000 litres of oil into Burrard Inlet and the surrounding environment. Even before that spill, much of the marine life in the Inlet was not harvestable due to pollution.
He said that TWN supports sustainable business in its territory and strives to create a healthy economy for its community.
"This is not just a Tsleil-Waututh issue or an aboriginal rights issue. This is an issue that could impact everyone's quality of life," he said. "Vancouver is one of the most beautiful and livable cities in the world. For the community as a whole, there is just too much at stake to allow such a project to proceed."
Photos in this article by James Maclennan (CNW Group/Tsleil-Waututh Nation.)