The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned the federal government’s approval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline, citing a failure to properly consult with First Nations along its route.
The 2 – 1 judgement was delivered on June 23rd, but made public today.
The legal challenge was launched by eight first nations, four environmental groups and a labour union.
“The Harper approval has been set aside, and the proponent and the government have to go back and do a proper consultation with First Nations, and then the matter can return to cabinet,” says Lawyer Chris Tollefson, for Nature BC, one of the environmental groups in the legal battle.
Northern Gateway says to determine their next move, they’ll consult with the Aboriginal Equity Partners and commercial project proponents.
Enbridge says their equity partners are committed to building the project, as well as protecting the environment and traditional way of life.
And for the Sekani Tribal Council, the fight isn’t over.
“We will continue to defend our rights to govern our lands from the current and future generations. Today was a victory for all First Nations, British Columbians and Canadians,” says Tribal Cheif Terry Teegee.
The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council also congratulated the First Nations groups that won the case and how they believe in prior and informed consent, especially with oil pipeline developments on their land.
Chief Fred Sam of the Nak’azdli Nation agrees consultation was inadequate.
“I think we need to work together with Canada to make sure they do things properly, and work with the province, to make sure things are done properly from the beginning,” explains Sam.
He was worried the Enbridge pipeline would spill if it was pushed through the regulatory process.
“I think we’ve just seen the damage and effects in the other areas with oil spills…a lot of it really devastated some areas.”