Stand firm against “divide and conquer” tactics on pipeline, Wet’suwet’en say

Energy Politics First Nations

In a news release posted on the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network Facebook page, 13 Wet’suwet’en chiefs are criticizing what they call “divide and conquer strategies’ of industry and government” in advocating the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. The reference is the signing Friday of an agreement with Enbridge by Elmer Derrick of the Gitxsan Nation, an action denounced by other Gitxsan people.

Text of release

United We Shall Win the Battle against Enbridge

 Moricetown, British Columbia 

Wet’suwet’en feel compelled to address our many friends and supporters
in the fight to resist the pressures of the tar sands. It comes as no
surprise to us that the money of the oil barons is being used to drive a
wedge between the Nations who stand united in opposition to the
Northern Gateway pipeline.

 “We are very familiar with the
‘divide and conquer strategies’ of industry and governments but we stand
firm in resisting these pressures”, says Chief Kloum’Khun. “There is a
lot at stake in this fight. From First Nations in the
Athabascan/Mackenzie watershed who are suffering from the chronic
consequences of tar sands development out to BC coast with the threat of
oil tankers through the waters of Coastal First nations.”

territory encompasses the headwaters of the Fraser watershed and major
tributaries of the Skeena watershed (Morice/Bulkley River) and feed BC’s
most vibrant salmon fisheries. Enbridge’s proposed pipeline route will
rip the heart out of our traditional lands and place our functioning
ecosystems in dire peril.

Chief Na’moks says, “This pipeline
proposal does not meet the need of current and future Wet’suwet’en
people. This decision was made through a series of clan meetings held
with Wet’suwet’en people using our traditional laws. Today we continue
to stand firm in our opposition to Enbridge.”

 “For the Wet’suwet’en, we will not risk our culture and livelihood for a few petro dollars.”

the internal conflict currently being experience by our Gitxsan
cousins, we feel deeply. We remain committed to continued collaboration
in our fight against the Enbridge tar sands pipeline. This is merely the
beginning of a lengthy fight and collectively we must remain steadfast,
and honourable and stay the course.

 The Wet’suwet’en have
a history of collaboration. We jointly worked with the Gitxsan Chiefs
in the historic Delgamuukw/Gisdayway court case. We supported the
Tsilhqot’in First Nation’s fight against the Prosperity Mine proposal
and the destruction of Fish Lake. We are supporting the Tahltan First
Nation in their opposition to Royal Dutch Shell’s attempt to develop
coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters. We are interveners in the
Hul’qumi’num petition to the Inter-American Petition on Human Rights. 


Chief Kloum’Khun (Alphonse Gagnon)

Chief Smogelgem (Gloria George)

Chief Nedabees (Warner Williams)

Chief Samooh (Herb Naziel)

Chief Hagwilnegh (Ron Mitchell)

Chief Wah’Tah’Kwets (Frank Patrick)

Chief Wah’Tah’Ghet (Henry Alfred)

Chief Nam’oks (John Ridsdale) 

Chief Wigitamschol ( Dan Michell) 

Chief Kweese (alternate Bill Naziel – Mutt)

Chief Madeek (Jeff Brown) 

Chief Gisday’wa (Dr. Alfred Joseph)

Chief Woss (alternate Darlene Glaim – Gyolo’ght)


Gitxsan again reject Enbridge deal, demand resignation of GTO employees

First Nations Energy Environment

Leaders of the Gitxsan Nation have again rejected the deal the Gitxsan Treaty Organization made with Enbridge, endorsing the Northern Gateway Pipeline.

A press release published on Facebook by the environmental group Pipe Up Against Enbridge says in part.

On Sunday, December 4th, 2011, 3 of the Gitxsan Clans held separate meetings in 3 locations to voice their concerns and consider their future action in regards to the announcement of the signing of an agreement between the Gitxsan and Enbridge.

Gitxsan people were unaware of the undertakings with Enbridge. The Gitxsan people through Simogyet Delgamuukw say, “NO to the Enbridge Pipeline Project”. Numerous concerns from the meetings were brought forward to an emergency Gitxsan Treaty Society Board meeting held on Sunday afternoon, December 4th, to have the Gitxsan voices transferred into action.
On Sunday evening, an All Clans meeting was held to discuss the unified direction of the Gitxsan. Simogyet Delgamuukw was selected to be the spokesperson for the Gitxsan. The Simgigyet (Gitxsan Chiefs) stated: “We have traditional protocols in place that dictate the actions of the Gitxsan people when making important decisions that will impact the whole Gitxsan Nation and/or neighbouring Nations. These protocols were not followed by the Gitxsan Treaty Society negotiators.”

Immediate action has been taken to deal with the people responsible for negotiating and signing the agreement with Enbridge. The press release of December 2nd, 2011 was not sanctioned by the Gitxsan. All government agencies and other related business contacts are put on notice with this press release that our 2 negotiators and our Executive Director no longer represent the Gitxsan at any level.

The Globe and Mail in Gitxsan hereditary chiefs demand negotiators in Enbridge deal resign reports:

After emergency meetings over the weekend, a group of hereditary chiefs marched on the offices of the Gitxsan Treaty Society on Monday to demand the immediate resignation of three of the society’s employees. Those employees include Elmer Derrick, a Gitxsan Treaty Society negotiator and a hereditary chief who on Friday announced a deal with Enbridge to support the Northern Gateway project.

Lake Babine Nation demands apology from Gitxsan Treaty office for Enbridge deal

Energy Politics First Nations


The Lake Babine Nation has issued a news release demanding an apology for the Gitxsan Treaty Office “for signing an agreement with Enbridge that could impact the Lake Babine
Nation’s lands and resources without first consulting with the Lake
Babine Nation.”

The release from Chief Wilf Adam of the Lake Babine Nation only adds more controversy to Friday’s announcement of a deal between the Enbridge Northern Gateway project and Elmer Derrick who represents the Gitxsan Treaty Office. Other Gitxsan, both hereditary leaders and members of elected councils are also disputing the deal.

Complete text of Babine Lake Nation release:

The Lake Babine Nation is demanding an
apology from the Gitxsan Treaty Office (GTO) for signing an agreement
with Enbridge that could impact the Lake Babine Nation’s lands and
resources without first consulting with the Lake Babine Nation.

Chief Wilf Adam, speaking for the Lake Babine Nation states,
“The pipeline will not cross Gitxsan territory. They will not bear any
of the risks or the costs. It is us, along with the other Nations
through whose territories the tar sands oil will be transported, who
will suffer the consequences. It is us who stand to lose our resources,
our way of life. By supporting Enbridge the GTO has potentially
encouraged an infringement upon our Rights and Title. And they have done
so without any prior consultation.”

Chief Adam goes on to say, “The GTO has shown an incredible
disrespect for their neighbouring First Nations. The Lake Babine Nation
demands an immediate apology and a commitment to consult with us in the

It is also seeking a formal retraction and apology from the
Gitxsan Treaty Office for the statements their Chief Negotiator, Elmer
Derrick, gave to the media December 2. Mr. Derrick described five
streams that flow into Babine Lake, and the salmon they support, as, “an
important resource to the Gitxsan. He also said that the Gitxsan, “want
to be at the same table with Enbridge to have a say in how the pipeline
will be built”.

Chief Adam declares, “The streams, Babine Lake, and the
salmon resources they support, are all within the territory of the Lake
Babine Nation. These are the Lake Babine Nation’s resources, not the
Gitxsan Treaty Office’s. Neither Mr. Derrick, nor the GTO, has any right
to speak to anyone about our resources or the way that may be

The Lake Babine Nation demands a retraction of Mr. Derrick’s
statement and an apology from the Gitxsan Treaty Office for Mr.
Derrick’s remarks. Chief Adam continues, “People know I oppose the
Enbridge’s Gateway project. And I am appalled that the GTO would support
Enbridge at the expense of other First Nations. But this is not why I
am angry. I am angry because the GTO is encouraging resource development
on Lake Babine Nation’s territory, and has done so without any prior
consultation with our Nation.”

Chief Adam concluded by saying that, “The Enbridge pipeline
will come within 200 feet of my house. It won’t come within 50 miles of
Gitxsan territory. It is the Lake Babine Nation, along with many, many
others that will bear all the risks and costs, not the GTO.”

The Lake Babine Nation’s territory lies north of Highway 16,
stretching from east of Burns Lake to well west and north of Smithers.
It encompasses Babine Lake, the second largest sockeye producing system
in the Province. Salmon remains a vital contributor to the Lake Babine
Nation’s culture and economy. In 2011 the Lake Babine Nation’s
commercial fishery was the second largest sockeye fishery in British
Columbia producing almost 200,000 selectively harvested sockeye.

Enbridge response to Gitxsan controversy

Enbridge has released a response to the controversy over its agreement with Elmer Derrick of the Gitxsan Treaty Office.

Agreement With Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs

• Enbridge
Northern Gateway Pipelines welcomes the agreement with the Gitxsan
Hereditary Chiefs on behalf of the Gitxsan Nation. We believe it
demonstrates vision and leadership and will bring significant benefits
to the Gitxsan people.

• The agreement is between the
Gitxsan First Nation as represented by Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs, and
Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines. The Hereditary Chiefs hold title to
Gitxsan territory and are the negotiating authority for the Gitxsan

• The agreement is expected to deliver $ 7 million
in net profit to Gitxsan. Northern Gateway is providing financing. This
commitment to partnership has helped provide foundation for pending
Gitxsan and Enbridge dialogue regarding regional renewable energy

• Aboriginal participation in Northern Gateway is
an important goal, and one we have worked hard to achieve. The design of
our benefits offering reflects years of consultation with First Nations
and Métis communities along our existing and proposed pipeline

• We believe these commitments will break
new ground by providing an unprecedented level of long-term economic and
social benefits to Aboriginal communities in the North. We are working
to ensure Northern Gateway will create a positive long-term impact on
the economy and way of life of northern residents, particularly
Aboriginal communities.

• Through equity ownership,
Aboriginal people will be able to generate a significant new revenue
stream that could help achieve the priorities of their people – such as
improved health care, education and housing.

All quotes can be attributed to Enbridge spokesman Paul Stanway.

Gitxsan chiefs, band leaders, “stand in solidarity” opposing Gateway pipeline, say they do not support Derrick’s Enbridge agreement

Energy Politics First Nations

A coalition of Gitxsan hereditary leaders and band councils have repudiated Friday’s announcement by Elmer Derrick of an agreement with Enbridge to take an equity stake in the Northern Gateway Pipeline. A news release from the group says The Gitxsan people are outraged with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Agreement.”

Complete text of release:

Contrary to the announcement of Elmer Derrick of today’s date, the representatives of the Plaintiffs to the British Columbia Supreme Court Action No. 15150, cited as Spookw v. Gitxsan Treaty Society, oppose the Agreement. The Gitxsan plaintiffs include Hereditary Chiefs and four Gitxsan bands with a population of over 6,000 Gitxsan people; the majority of whom are House members in the Gitxsan traditional system represented by Hereditary Chief, Spookw, in the court action.

The representatives do not support Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline agreement entered into by Elmer Derrick and state “Elmer Derrick and the Gitxsan Treaty Society/Gitxsan Economic Development Corp. does not speak for all Gitxsan. The Gitxsan people had no knowledge of the proposed Agreement nor were they consulted”. The Plaintiffs contend that the Gitxsan Treaty Society, or the Gitxsan Development Corporation, does not have the authority to enter into such Agreements without consulting or being authorized by the Gitxsan people.

Knowledge of the signed Agreement was only obtained through media, much like the Gitxsan Alternative Governance Model of May 2008, the subject matter of litigation in Spookw v. Gitxsan Treaty Society.

The representatives say that not only were the communities not consulted, but importantly, the Environmental Review Process is not yet complete with community hearings being scheduled for January 2012; therefore, a decision to support it is, at best, premature. Until the Environmental assessment is complete there is no basis for saying this project is safe to build.

The Representatives say the 7 Million dollars is a pittance in comparison to the potential environmental impacts which will be catastrophic. The GTS/GED is willing to jeopardize the sustenance of the First Nations people for a few million dollars is reprehensible and is not supported by the Gitxsan people.

Mr. Derrick espouses the importance of Gitxsan Law; however, breached such law by announcing and celebrating the Agreement on the day of the funeral of an elder matriarch and Hereditary Chief. This type of conduct brings shame and is disrespectful to the grieving family and the traditional system.

The representatives say that Mr. Derrick has embarrassed and shamed the Gitxsan people by undermining the 61 First Nations who are opposed to the project. The representatives say “We stand in solidarity to those opposing it.”

Related: Vancouver Sun :

Uproar in Gitxsan First Nation after support for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline announced

Haisla won’t “negotiate” with Enbridge until after Joint Review decision, Ross says

Energy Environment First Nations

Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross speaking at the September 2011 District of Kitimat public forum on the Northern Gateway Pipeline.  (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross said Friday that Haisla will not “negotiate” with Enbridge over its planned Northern Gateway Pipeline until after there has been a decision from the Joint Review Panel on  whether or not the pipeline is in the public interest.

Ross said the Haisla had recently written to Minister of the Environment Peter Kent, asking if the Crown was prepared to enter the constitutionally mandated consultations with First Nations over the pipeline.  Ross says Kent’s reply indicated that there would be no Crown consultations until after the conclusion of the Joint Review Process.

The Joint Review Panel hearings begin in Kitimat on January 10, 2012.   The hearings will proceed in two stages, first hearing presentations from registered intervenors, with the second phase hearing from members of the public who wish to give 10 minute comments on the pipeline project. That stage of the process could take up to three months before the panel can even begin to consider a decision.

Reacting to today’s decision by Gitxsan hereditary chiefs to sign an agreement with Enbridge to take a $7 million partnership stake in the pipeline, Ross said he was surprised by the move, “given the opposition from the public so far, and we’ve be told that in terms of consultation and accommodation [with First Nations].”

Earlier today, in the news conference with Gitxsan heriditary chief Elmer Derrick, Enbridge executive vice president of Western Access Janet Holder told reporters that the company was negotiating with all 50 First Nations along the pipeline route.

Ross disagreed with that term. He said, “The Haisla are not negotiating with Enbridge. You can’t confuse negotiation and talking.” He said without the participation of the Crown there is no real  process for negotiations and accommodation with First Nations over the pipeline.

Ross said any talks with Enbridge by First Nations shouldn’t be considered negotiations unless there is some type of formal agreement saying “we are in negotiations.”

Ross also said  in terms of  possible agreements with Enbridge  “it is pretty easy to negotiate in an area where there will be very little impact.”

The Haisla, he said,  have all three major impacts from the Northern Gateway project, “the pipeline, the terminal and the tankers.  It`s pretty easy to negotiate if you`re not paying the full price.  The Haisla will pay in full if the project goes ahead.”

The Haisla have always  been wary of the Enbridge project but have also been careful in stating their opposition to the pipeline.  At public meeting in Kitimat in September, Ross said, in part.

As far as we can tell, based on oil company’s track records, there will be a spill whether it is pipeline, terminal or tanker.

The only questions are how much oil will be spilled, who will clean it up and who will pay for the cleanup. We’ve been accused of NIMBY but in terms of our concerns, when it comes to a spill, we predict a POTB (Passing of the Buck) will occur…

And ultimately, apart from the acceptable risks that Haisla have already taken on against our will as well as current risks that we are a part of mitigating, why do we want to consider a project that has the potential to destroy the beauty of our resources that are still left?

We are not opposed to development, but in the case of oil export or oil by products import/export, the Precautionary Principle still makes the most sense

Other First Nations also reacted strongly to the Gitxsan chiefs’ decision.

In a news release Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) representing the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs said:

Enbridge is just not going to happen. We have said no and banned this pipeline from going through our territories – not only to protect ourselves and our lands, but also all the communities downriver from our lands. We have reviewed the project, and we have made a decision based in our traditional laws that we will not allow the devastation of an Enbridge oil spill in our lands to affect us and other communities further away who are all connected to us through the water.

Chief Jackie Thomas of Saik’uz First Nation, speaking for the Yinka Dene Alliance, stated:

Enbridge has always had a strategy of offering money to lots of First Nations. Lots of First Nations have refused this money. This is just the same old divide and conquer tactic we’ve known for centuries. It doesn’t matter who they get a deal with. The wall of First Nations saying no is unbroken. They plan to come through our territories and we’ve already said no, and we’ll use every legal means we have to stop them.

Their proposed pipeline is against our laws because we refuse to put our communities at the risk of oil spills. Water means more to us than money. We know we have overwhelming support from a large majority of British Columbians for stopping this dangerous Enbridge pipeline.

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs take $7 million stake in Northern Gateway project

Energy  First Nations

Note this update: Gitxsan chiefs, band
leaders, “stand in solidarity” opposing Gateway pipeline, say they do
not support Derrick’s Enbridge agreement

Update 2: Enbridge video embedded at end of this story.

Elmer Derrick, representing the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs today announced the Gitxsan Nation was taking a $7 million stake in the controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline.

Derrick told a conference call with reporters that the the hereditary chiefs signed the agreement with Enbridge on the basis of a 1997 Supreme Court decision that granted the chiefs “rights and title” to their traditional territory.
Derrick spoke about the poverty of the Gitxsan people, especially after the collapse of the forest industry beginning in the 1980s, with the exhaustion of good quality timber, leaving only pulp trees.  He said “the situation was bleak”  with a high number of  youth suicides then said “young people cannot eat Gitxsan rights and title.”

He said the Gitxsan have been looking for economic development partners in many fields, including mining and biofuels and that Enbridge was one of the companies that had approached the nation with a partnership offer.

The agreement, Derrick said, calls for the pipeline to be built and operated safely by Enbridge.

 Under questioning by reporters, Derrick acknowledged that the Northern Gateway pipeline will only a cover a small area of the 33,000 square kilometres of Gitxsan traditional territory,  “five or six small streams that feed into the Babine Lake.”   (Babine Lake itself is largely in the traditional territory of the Dakleh or Carrier First Nation). Gitxsan traditional territory is partly along the upper reaches of the Skeena River.  Enbridge’s plans call for the pipeline to avoid that area altogether by crossing directly west from the Burns Lake area  over and through  the mountains, including using two tunnels, to the Upper Kitimat River.

Derrick said there had been no consultation with the local band councils,  because, he said, the hereditary chiefs have the right and title to the land. He characterized the band councils as the equivalent of municipal councils.

There are six band councils in Gitxsan traditional territory and like many other BC First Nations there are those who support the hereditary system and those who prefer the elected councils.

There were repeated questions from reporters about how much consultation there had been with the band councils and members of the Gitxsan Nation. Asked if the Gitxsan band councils approved the deal, Derrick replied, “I don’t know.”  He did say that the hereditary chiefs had “conferred”  with the elected officials and had “talked to as many people as possible over the past six years.”

 Derrick said that the $7 million dollar would go into a trust fund, likely for the education and training of younger members of the Gitxsan First Nation. He could not give specific details, but did add that the whole community would be consulted about the trust fund.  That number is based on an offer from Enbridge of  a total of 10 per cent equity in the pipeline project.  With 50 First Nations along the route, Derrick said the Gitxsan will be getting approximately one fortieth of that ten per cent. The pipeline project is estimated to be worth $5.5 billion Canadian.

He said there was no estimate of the jobs that the Gitxsan Nation would get as a result of the agreement.  He noted that the members of the Gitxsan nation travel across northwestern BC in search of work and said that if  Gitxsan worked for the pipeline project, that wouldn’t be much different from other jobs. In response to a question about rumours that the Gitxsan had been in negotiations with Enbridge about operating the “pig”  the robot that monitors the interior of a pipeline for maintenance and safety purposes, he said that was no part of this deal.

Derrick also said he did not anticipate any problems with neighbouring First Nations that have expressed opposition to the pipeline.

Derrick said there was no connection with the announcement Thursday by 131 First Nations from across North America that they opposed the Northern Gateway Pipeline, saying he wasn’t even aware of the Save the Fraser Gathering until asked about it. Derrick said the news of the deal was released “because of the opportunity to sign today.”

Janet Holder, executive vice president of Western Access for Enbridge emphasized to reporters that it was the Gitxsan making the announcement, not Enbridge. Like other, unspecified, agreements with other First Nations along or near the pipeline route,  the Gitxsan agreement had confidentiality clauses and it was up to the First Nations to make public whether or not they had agreements with the company.   Pressed by reporters how many other First Nations had agreements with the company, Holder would not even give a rough figure.

She said “we are making good progress along the right of way and we’re optimistic from our discussions that the majority of First Nations support the project.”

An earlier news  release from Enbridge says:

“Over time we have established a relationship of trust with Enbridge, we have examined and assessed this project, and we believe it can be built and operated safely,” said Chief Derrick. “We believe that the construction of this pipeline is of vital importance to the future of Canadian energy security and prosperity.”

The agreement is expected to deliver at least $7 million in net profit to the Gitxsan people. Enbridge will be providing financing at favourable rates, and the partnership will provide a solid foundation for an ongoing dialogue between the Gitxsan and Enbridge regarding regional renewable energy projects.

“Let me stress that all decisions we make in pursuing business on Gitxsan land remain faithful to the laws of our people, said Chief Derrick. “Those who wish to do business in Gitxsan territory will be held to Gitxsan standards.”

Janet Holder, Executive Vice-President of Western Access for Enbridge, welcomed the announcement and the support of the Gitxsan Nation. “I want to acknowledge the vision demonstrated by Chief Derrick and the Hereditary Chiefs,” said Ms. Holder. “The most significant way in which Aboriginal people can benefit from the Northern Gateway project is by owning a stake in it and sharing in the net income it produces.”

The announcement comes a day after 61 First Nations declared their opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline. According to the Vancouver Sun by the end of the day Thursday, that number had grown to 131 First Nations.

Enbridge video of Janet Holder and Elmer Derrick (via Youtube)