AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde participates in a Q&A session at the Public Policy Forum’s Growth Summit on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 in Ottawa.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde participates in a Q&A session at the Public Policy Forum’s Growth Summit on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 in Ottawa.
Photo Credit: PC / Justin Tang

First Nations to rely on tradition and custom to bridge divisions over pipelines: national chief

Share

Canadian Indigenous communities will use the power of tradition, prayer and ceremony to heal a rift among First Nations chiefs over support for two controversial pipelines approved by the federal government this past week, says Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde.

The approval by the Liberal government of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain and Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline projects has exposed sharp differences between 39 chiefs who support the projects and others who are vehemently opposed to it.

“When we bring people together and put our ceremonies and our traditions and our customs first and foremost, seeking that guidance, you find that common ground,” Bellegarde said in an exclusive interview with RCI.

(click to listen to the full interview with Perry Bellegarde)

Listen
Rift mirrors attitudes in rest of Canada

Just like the wider Canadian society, the First Nations communities are also divided in their views of the pipelines and resource development, said Bellegarde.

The national chief will serve as a mediator of sorts at a panel discussion at the AFN special assembly in Gatineau, Quebec, on Wednesday. Energy policy will be on the agenda of the meeting, which is expected to pit one pro-pipeline First Nations chief against an anti-development leader. Bellegarde said he hopes to encourage respectful dialogue.

“What we’re doing from the Assembly of First Nations is creating space for dialogue and coming together,” Bellegarde said.

Taking middle ground
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Trudeau is approving Kinder Morgan's proposal to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. — a $6.8-billion project that has sparked protests by climate change activists.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Trudeau is approving Kinder Morgan’s proposal to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. — a $6.8-billion project that has sparked protests by climate change activists. © Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Bellegarde said he is personally staking out a middle ground, and offering support to both those who feel their rights haven’t been respected by the government review process of the proposed projects and those who see pipeline construction as a much needed economic boon for their communities.

“We always say as Indigenous Peoples we want to be part of the economy, we want to create jobs and welfare for our people, we want to have equity ownership in big projects,” Bellegarde said. “But at the same time we always have responsibilities to protect land and water, so we’re always seeking that balance between the environment and the economy.”

One of the most important things for the AFN is the right to self-determination, Bellegarde said.

“And that means the ability to say ‘Yes’ to projects or ‘No’ to projects,” he said.

Common values
Members of the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations gather in canoes on the waters of Burrard Inlet at the Kinder Morgan Burnaby Terminal for a ceremony to show opposition to the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday September 1, 2012.
Members of the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations gather in canoes on the waters of Burrard Inlet at the Kinder Morgan Burnaby Terminal for a ceremony to show opposition to the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday September 1, 2012. © PC/DARRYL DYCK

Bellegarde said it is important for those First Nations chiefs that oppose the two pipelines approved by the Liberal government to respect the leadership of those 39 chiefs who signed agreements with the two companies.

“When I look at it, there are more things that unite us as Indigenous people than divide us,” Bellegarde said. “Things like our commitment to protect land and water, like our commitment to participate in the economy in meaningful and substantive ways, our commitment to get off of our dependency on fossil fuels globally and start looking at investments in clean energy.”

Bellegarde said he has a simple suggestion for the federal and provincial governments and the industry when considering large projects to make sure the principles of free prior and informed consent and duty to consult are accommodated.

“Before you even start planning a project, in terms of a development or taking a resource or building any kind of a megaproject, that you involve the Indigenous Peoples in a very real, meaningful, substantive way,” he said. “That will ensure economic stability going forward on any project.”

With files from CBC News

Share
Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Economy, Environment, Indigenous, Politics

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*