News Release
May 27, 2020

UBCIC Responds to Alberta Energy Minister’s Cavalier Commentary Regarding Ease of Building TMX During Pandemic

((Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaʔɬ/sel̓ílwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – May 27, 2020) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) responded to Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage’s recent comments on the ease of building the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project (TMX) during a pandemic because of limits on gatherings of more than 15 people in Alberta. The minister spoke on a podcast Friday, attributing the sluggish construction schedule to protest that was more effective than industry. 

“Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage should resign over Trans Mountain comments,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC. “Minister Savage’s remarks should worry anyone who values the democratic values of free speech and assembly. Effective protest and land defence isn’t dependent on large groups of people. Sometimes a small group of determined people can change the world, as we saw earlier this year. At the end of the day, TMX simply does not have consent of all impacted Indigenous Nations, and that is not going to change because of COVID-19.”

In February, demonstrations across Canada blocked critical transportation infrastructure, bringing rail traffic to a halt across the country. The BC Legislature was also the site of an Indigenous youth encampment in support of the Wet'suwet'en people against the proposed construction of the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline.

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC stated, “Alberta has now suspended all environmental reporting and monitoring in the tar sands with few timelines to resume. Recently, some of the world’s largest investment funds have announced they won’t invest in the province because of concerns around Indigenous rights, climate change and the environment. This isn’t something that is going away, and it is not an opportunity for Alberta Ministers to try to sneak through the pipeline.”

“While Minister Savage and the Albertan provincial government have canceled all environmental monitoring under the cover of COVID-19, they push for accelerated construction on Trans Mountain,” said Chief Don Tom, Vice-President of the UBCIC. “Either both monitoring and construction are safe and reliable or neither are. We can’t just go back to business as usual after the pandemic emergency and ignore the climate emergency. We need a just recovery for all.”


Media inquiries:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of UBCIC: (250-490-5314)
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President of UBCIC: (604-290-6083)
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of UBCIC: (250-320-7738)

UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

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