First Nations leaders at odds over potential pipeline ownership

Is the Trudeau government cynically trying to pass over liability to First Nations?

‘The bottom line is that there is no certainty in this investment,’ says Judy Wilson


Steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline construction of the Trans Mountain expansion project at a stockpile site in Kamloops, B.C. (Dennis Owen/Reuters)

An Indigenous group is urging other First Nations to not invest in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, arguing it is not a sound investment.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) has penned an open letter to some leaders who are exploring the idea of partial ownership in the project.

It warns of potential financial risks tied to the proposed pipeline expansion if it gets the ultimate green light from Ottawa.

“The bottom line is that there is no certainty in this investment,” said Judy Wilson, secretary treasurer with the UBCIC. She co-signed the letter with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

“A lot of the communities may not have the full financial information and a lot of things they should know if they are going to be investing.”

Chief Judy Wilson with the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says that she chooses the health of the southern resident killer whales over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

The letter outlines concerns around ballooning constructions costs of the project, citing total cost estimates upwards of $15 billion.

“When people start doing the actual number crunching they’ll see there’s no real return,” said Wilson, referencing last year’s buy-out by the federal government. MORE

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Letter: Trans Mountain poses significant financial risks for First Nations

B.C. chiefs gather in Smithers to support Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

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Chief Judy Wilson, secretary treasurer of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said she was planning to attend the meeting and other members of the group had already flown to Smithers.  (JUSTIN TANG / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Hereditary chiefs opposed to a natural gas pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia are holding a gathering of solidarity on Wednesday that is expected to attract Indigenous leaders from across British Columbia.

…the difficulty that the hereditary chiefs have had in getting their authority recognized by industry and government is familiar.

Elected band councils are based on a colonial model of governance, she said. Under the tradition of her Secwepemc First Nation in the B.C. Interior, title belongs to all of the people within the nation.

“Collectively, people hold title for our nation.” MORE