Aboriginal rivalry over Canadian pipeline

Dec. 5, 2011 at 8:37 AM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Officials at energy company Enbridge said they spoke with the right people in Canada's aboriginal community regarding an oil pipeline despite some opposition.

Elmer Derrick, chief treaty negotiator for the Gitxsan aboriginal community in British Columbia, said around 60 of the tribe's top leaders expressed support for the planned Northern Gateway pipeline deal.

A deal with Enbridge could be worth around $7 million for tribal communities during the next 30 years. Enbridge spokesman Paul Stanway told The Vancouver Sun the deal with the tribal community was handled properly.

"We've done a lot of research and we think we understand the governance structure of the Gitxsan quite well and we're comfortable with the way this has proceeded," he said. "We're convinced we're speaking to the right people."

But Marjorie McRae, the elected leader of the Gitxsan tribe, said her community is "very upset."

"We're trying to get to the bottom of who gave the go-ahead," she told the Sun. More than 6,000 members and four of the five tribal chiefs oppose the measure, she added.

First Nations groups threatened to form a human chain in front of Enbridge bulldozers if the company went ahead with the construction of a $5.5 billion pipeline from Alberta to ports in British Columbia. They say they're concerned about environmental effects of so-called tar sands from Alberta province.

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