New Challenge to Pipeline – Deh Cho First Nations Ask Federal Court To Halt Northern Gas Pipeline Hearings

The Deh Cho First Nations (DCFN) have today filed an Application in the Federal Court to halt the Joint Review Panel appointed to review the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Project until the First Nations agree to the panel. The DCFN are also asking for an injunction stopping the panel from holding any hearings until the court application has been heard.

Today’s court filing is the second in a series of legal actions by the DCFN challenging the pipeline project. The first action was a statement of Claim filed in the Federal Court on September 2 in the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories.

“This new filing is asking the court to take specific action, to stop this review panel and the government from trampling on our rights, says DCFN grand chief Herb Norwegian. “We would rather have avoided going to court, but this is the only route left to us to protect the interests of people in the Deh Cho communities. There will be no pipeline through the Dehcho territory, because Canada has refused to consider including us in the decision making process. We will use every means necessary to stop it.”

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 people, further north along the pipeline route.

“This is clearly unfair,” says grand chief Norwegian. “The federal government, and Aboriginal people with settled land claims get representation. They get to make decisions over our land. Forty percent of that pipeline is supposed to run through our territory. Because we are still negotiating our land and governance rights with the government, we have no voice on the panel that is to recommend whether or not this project should go ahead. This is the largest development project the Deh Cho has ever seen, with the potential to completely change our lands and our society. We cannot be silent.”

Since the statement of claim was filed, new information has emerged that make the DCFN even more uneasy over the way that the review panel will do its work. Some panel members have already publicly said that they are in favour of the pipeline project. This is in breach of the Panel’s obligation under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to make impartial recommendations to the Environment Minister.

For more information, contact:

Herb Norwegian, Grand Chief, Deh Cho First Nations (867) 695-2355