(Vancouver, BC) Enbridge Inc. released statements yesterday to the media suggesting that the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project now had 60% support by Aboriginal communities in British Columbia and Alberta. There are serious questions within the Aboriginal communities about how this Enbridge stated figure was arrived at and clearly from the article posted in the Vancouver Sun yesterday it appears Enbridge has included the Métis communities as part of this equation.
Enbridge representative Paul Stanway stated that Enbridge estimates that over 30 years, the 10-per-cent stake in the pipeline would generate revenues of about $280 million. The equity position was allocated on a basis of population and the impact the pipeline would have on communities. Stanway said that not all communities will receive the same number of ownership units. The Enbridge offer, which expired on May 31 at midnight, was made to those first nations and Mètis communities with reserves or traditional territories within 80 kilometers on either side of the proposed pipeline route.
The BC Mètis Federation has been steadfast in seeking a Métis voice regarding the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project. In April BC Mètis Federation leaders decided to oppose the Enbridge project for three reasons. First there has been a complete lack of proper Métis consultation due to the incompetence of a provincial organization known as the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC). Second the BC Métis Federation recognized the need to ensure respect for First Nations territories and a need to ensure communications in relation to decisions that affect their claimed lands. Third the environmental and cultural risks did appear to be worth the benefits given the limited information for Métis people. It is important to note that this position of opposition was a direct result of BC Métis Federation surveys and community meetings held throughout BC. Today the BC Métis Federation can state that there is over 90% opposition from Métis people throughout BC.
Despite the obvious Métis community and family concerns MNBC signed the Enbridge equity deal announced May 26th with absolutely no mandate from Métis people or communities in British Columbia. It appears the Métis population count is considered in full support now given the Enbridge statements yesterday and this is a significant point as British Columbia has approximately 60,000 self identified Métis people. In some of proposed corridor locations, the Métis population count is greater than the local First Nations. Therefore how Enbridge Inc. reported a 60% Aboriginal community support should be taken into serious evaluation. BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry stated; “The Enbridge Inc. suggestion about support including Métis in British Columbia is absolutely false and misleading the public. MNBC has been provided hundreds of thousands of dollars by Enbridge Inc. and never visited most of their Métis communities they work with to discuss this project. MNBC announced support on behalf of Métis people in BC while the fact is they do not represent all Métis people, and those they represent never had an opportunity to provide direction to MNBC. Their own natural resources committee called the actions by MNBC in May as illegal yet I am sure there is a strong component in this Enbridge equation to assume MNBC represents the collective will of the Métis people in BC.”
President Henry added; “MNBC is a provincial political non-profit board with no established territory and no right to claim any of the lands within the proposed pipelines corridors. There are several Métis community organizations and families who exercise traditional harvesting practices along the proposed project route and these are the people who stand to be impacted, not a provincial board who has offices in Abbotsford. The only recognized settlement is in Kelly Lake where the Métis people have purchased their own lands and they continue to assert their rights to a territory that is well defined. The Kelly Lake Métis Settlement Society has completely opposed the project as this pipeline is proposed to go through their territory right at the Alberta/British Columbia border.”
BC Métis Federation President Henry concluded, “One by one Métis communities in BC are stating their opposition and calling into question MNBC public statements. These are communities who have a current relationship with the MNBC and do not agree. The BC Métis Federation knows there is strong First Nation opposition and this MNBC support could further negatively impact future First Nation/Mètis relationships. The BC Métis Federation will be releasing a report by the end of June that further provides evidence of Métis views regarding the proposed project. MNBC does not represent the views of the large majority of Métis people in BC and Enbridge Inc. should be called into question about their methodology of how their self claimed 60% is arrived at. Furthermore MNBC has yet to be transparent about how much funding Enbridge Inc. and the Federal Government has provided to them for community consultation over the past three years. It appears MNBC benefitted substantially despite n not completing proper Métis community consultation and with this equity signing MNBC is positioning themselves to benefit the 11 board members only without any clear understanding or transparency about how past and future benefits would be managed. MNBC has a proven record of mismanagement and is millions in debt. These are serious issues and Métis people throughout BC continue to watch this issue unfold dumbfounded at the fact that MNBC is a provincial political organization that has no territory along the proposed route that will be impacted.”
For more information about the BC Métis Federation please view the website.
BC Métis Federation
Vancouver, BC V5R 5W2
You can now follow BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry on twitter @keithhenryMetis