FEATURE-Many Canadian aboriginals see no compromise on oil sands pipeline

Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:00am EDT
 
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(Repeats from earlier April 21 with no changes to text)

By Julie Gordon

KITIMAT, British Columbia, April 21 (Reuters) - Just a few miles from the spot where Enbridge Inc plans to build a massive marine terminal for its Northern Gateway oil pipeline, Gerald Amos checks crab traps and explains why no concession from the company could win his support for the project.

Amos, the former chief of the Haisla Nation on the northern coast of British Columbia and a community leader, has argued for years that the risk - no matter how small - of an oil spill in these waters outweighs any reward the controversial project might offer.

That resolve is shared by many in the aboriginal communities along the proposed pipeline and marine shipping route who see the streams, rivers and oceans in their traditional territories as the lifeblood of their culture.

"Our connection to this place that we call home is really important," says Amos as he pulls three Dungeness crabs from his trap, tossing two in a bucket and holding the third up for his two young granddaughters, who shriek and giggle as the crustacean wriggles its legs.

"If these little ones can't witness us doing what we've done for generations now, if we sever that tie to the land and the ocean, we're no longer Haisla."

The Northern Gateway pipeline would carry diluted bitumen 1,177 kilometers (731 miles) from Alberta's oil sands to the deepwater port in Kitimat, in northwest British Columbia, where it would be loaded on supertankers and shipped to Asia. It is expected to cost C$7.9 billion ($7.17 billion).

Like the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to the United States, Northern Gateway is loathed by environmentalists who fear it will hasten the development of Canada's oil sands and exacerbate climate change. But it is also fiercely opposed by many aboriginals along the pipeline path and shipping routes.   Continued...