OPEN LETTER: Kinder Morgan Canada Authorization Requests
Dear Premier Horgan, Minister Heyman, and Minister Mungall:
We are writing to you regarding a recent letter that was sent to the Neskonlith Indian Band from Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan Canada (enclosed). This letter, which provides detail on the transfer of control of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan to the Government of Canada, makes mention of the fact that Kinder Morgan will soon request specific authorizations from the Government of British Columbia to resume construction. We urge you to continue to stand with the First Nations and British Columbians who are justly opposed to this pipeline, and to deny all authorization requests sent to the Province from Kinder Morgan.
This letter, written under the guise of “consent,” does not request the consent of the Neskonlith Indian Band to build a dangerous pipeline through collectively-held Secwépemcul'ecw territory. Not a single question appears in this letter. Rather, Anderson tells Neskonlith that this is what Kinder Morgan is going to do: request the consent of the Government of British Columbia for the appropriate licenses and permits, as required. This indicates that Kinder Morgan has been and will continue to perform only the bare minimum of their legal obligations, with blatant disregard toward the laws, protocols and sovereignty of First Nations. In addition, the language, structure, and tone of this letter suggests that it was not personally sent to Neskonlith, but is a form letter that may have been sent to multiple First Nations.
This letter fails to recognize and respect the governance structure under which the Neskonlith Indian Band operates. The proper holders of Title and Rights are determined according to Indigenous law. Under Secwépemc law, the Secwépemc people, including members of the Neskonlith Indian Band, collectively hold Aboriginal Title and Rights regarding Secwépemcul'ecw territory. Kinder Morgan Canada, through the distribution of these letters by individual band council, is attempting to divide and conquer Aboriginal Title and Rights within Secwépemcul'ecw territory while ignoring the voices and input of the proper titleholders—the Secwépemc people, collectively.
Anderson states that Kinder Morgan is “working with the government of British Columbia to obtain this consent.” This further indicates that they do not fully understand what the concept of “consent” means, nor do they care. Consent cannot be obtained through coercion, erosion, force, or bribery; however, despite the fact that Neskonlith has repeatedly made their opposition to this pipeline clear, they are still receiving correspondence such as this that indicates one message and one message only: the Trans Mountain pipeline will be built, and it doesn’t matter if a First Nation says “no” now—they will be forced to say “yes” eventually, or they will just have to accept it.
This is not consent. Consent, according to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration), which your government has committed to fully implement, must be free, prior and informed. Approving Kinder Morgan Canada’s authorizations requests and ignoring these coercive tactics would be in direct violation of several articles of the UN Declaration, namely:
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources;
2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.
3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress to such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.
By UBCIC Resolution 2011-54, the UBCIC Chiefs Council calls upon the BC Government to respect the laws and authority of First Nations, and to protect the environment, fisheries, and the health and safety of all BC communities, by opposing and rejecting the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker expansion.
We urge you to deny all authorization requests from Kinder Morgan Canada to build the Trans Mountain pipeline. We request that you continue to stand with all First Nations who have voiced opposition to this pipeline and are now targets of the coercive, forceful tactics that Kinder Morgan and the Government of Canada are employing to wrongfully obtain consent to build this environmentally dangerous, economically unstable project.
Please do not fall victim to these dangerous tactics. For the future of our waters, our lands, our Nations, and our planet, please stand by your commitment to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline and demonstrate to the Government of Canada what true consent is.
On behalf of the UNION OF BC INDIAN CHIEFS
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Chief Robert Chamberlin
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson
CC: Neskonlith Indian Band
Encl: Letter from Ian Anderson to the Neskonlith Indian Band “Re: Trans Mountain Pipeline” UBCIC Resolution 2011-54 “Support for the Save the Fraser Declaration, the Coastal First Nations Tanker Ban, and the Indigenous laws Banning Crude Oil Pipeline and Tanker Shipments through British Columbia”
For media inquires please contact Chief Judy Wilson, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer, 250-320-7738