Deh Cho Files Court Action on Pipeline Review
The Deh Cho First Nations filed a statement of claim in the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories today on the review process for the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline.
“We have been forced to this action by the federal government,” says Herb Norwegian, the DCFN Grand Chief. “We have tried all other routes to pursue our legitimate desire to have representation on the panel to review this project. We have a responsibility to our people to represent their interests. Forty percent of this proposed pipeline will cross Deh Cho lands. We could not just sit and watch as other people made the decisions on what is best for us.”
The DCFN had asked the federal government to be allowed to participate in the appointment of two people to the seven-member panel that was set up to review the proposed pipeline. That is the same allowance as was given to the Inuvialuit Game Council, representing the interests of Inuvialuit people, further north along the pipeline route.
“We are being discriminated against because we do not have a settlement of our land and governance rights,” notes Grand Chief Norwegian. “This is clearly against section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that says ‘Every individual is equal before and under the law’. It also is against section 35 of the Constitution Act which recognizes and affirms our aboriginal and treaty rights”.
The statement of claim asks the court to consider granting an injunction, stopping the pipeline review until the Deh Cho First Nations are included in the review process. Alternatively, it asks the court to consider giving an order that invalidates any decision reached by the review panel.
“We are simply asking the court to recognize our right to have a say in this project,” says Keyna Norwegian, chief of Liidli Koe First Nation in Fort Simpson. “This is the biggest development project to ever hit the Deh Cho. It has the potential to totally change our lives. We need a voice in this process.”
For more information, contact:
Herb Norwegian, Grand Chief, Deh Cho First Nations (867) 695-2355
Keyna Norwegian, Chief, Liidli Koe First Nation (867) 444-7076