NWT, Alberta chiefs sign declaration against pipeline

Chiefs from Alberta and the Northwest Territories signed a declaration in Edmonton Friday which opposes the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

"The Save the Fraser Declaration" was started by the Yinka Dene Alliance in British Columbia and states that the undersigned First Nations will not allow Northern Gateway or any oilsands project "to cross our lands, territories, and watersheds, or the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon."

"If Enbridge tries to disobey our laws, we will use every means available to us under indigenous, Canadian and international law to enforce our decision," Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik'uz First Nation, a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance, told a news conference in Edmonton.

The controversial pipeline would take bitumen from the Alberta oilsands from Bruderheim, Alta. to the port of Kitimat B.C.

The project has been vehemently opposed by B.C. First Nations who worry how a pipeline leak or tanker spill could affect land, water and wildlife on their traditional lands.

Northern First Nations have their own concerns about the project. They believe the pipeline will lead to an expansion of oilsands mining in northern Alberta, which will impact the quality and quantity of water in the Mackenzie River watershed.

"Everything comes downstream to us," said Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus. "We're very concerned."

Erasmus and other northern chiefs made presentations to the joint review panel on the Northern Gateway pipeline on Friday.

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