Federal Appeals Court Validates First Nation Lawsuit Against Pipeline

A Federal Court of Appeal ruling issued on Friday has established that the Gitxaala Nation in B.C. will have its day in court to challenge the Northern Gateway pipeline project. According to the orders issued, the First Nation has blamed the federal government for relying on “an unlawful and unreasonable Joint Review Panel report when it approved the Northern Gateway pipeline.”

According to acting Chief, Clarence Innis, “we played by Canada’s rules, but all of our concerns were ignored.” Gitxaala’s lawyer, Rosanne Kyle, has alleged that the granting of Leave to Apply for Judicial Review is significant. Kyle explained that “the issues raised by Gitxaala are so important to the cultural and economic existence of Gitxaala that it is critical that their challenge to the project’s approval be given a full judicial review.” In addition to the ruling, the Gitxaala claims to have evidence that they submitted to the JRP in July, showing the pipeline project would interfere with their rights in several ways, including jurisdiction, governance and Aboriginal title, and also affect their economic, cultural and spiritual way of life.

Acting Chief Innis stressed that “Canada has violated its own constitution,” pointing out that “Section 35 of the constitution says the federal government has a duty to consult with First Nations and they haven’t done that.” Innis highlighted that Gitxaala have been in the territory for thousands of years and will defend their rights, alleging that “we’re in it for the long haul.”

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