A long-awaited sigh of relief for First Nations communities across Canada

by svantfoort on October 6, 2017 - 7:10pm

               On October 6, 2017 TransCanada announced a halt to the Energy East pipeline project.  Brandi Morin from CBC news wrote an article called Chiefs express shock, relief to Energy East pipeline halt, reflecting on the many problems with the proposed pipeline as well as the new sense of relief for First Nations people across the country.  This 15.7 billion dollar pipeline was proposed to run from Alberta and Saskatchewan to New Brunswick and Quebec, carrying over a million barrels of crude oil across Canada every day (Morin, 2017).  The Energy East pipeline threatened many First Nations communities across the country as it was mapped to cross through their territories. 

                Brandi Morin discusses the many problems with the proposal of the Energy East pipeline and how the building of this pipeline would impact First Nations communities across the country.  The construction of the pipeline would have interfered with First Nations traditional hunting territories.  One First Nations group is located on the Miramichi River and relies on the river for salmon as their primary food as well as cultural subsistence (Morin, 2017).  The pipeline was planned to cross this river and many people feel there was not enough research done to look into First Nations’ concerns regarding the possible impacts of the pipeline on the river that could greatly impact their livelihood. 

Despite the upset from so many First Nations communities and relentless lobbying by First Nation Chiefs, the pipeline project was almost carried out without approval from the First Nations people.  If the pipeline was complete without consent from all of the communities it would run through, the project would be a treaty violation involving section 35 of the Canadian constitution.  This section of the constitution recognizes and affirms the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of all aboriginal people in Canada, insisting that the consent of the First Nations people is needed for any activity that could influence their traditional ways of life. 

Although First Nations communities across Canada feel a sense of relief from the halt of the East Energy pipeline project, this might not be the end of their fight to protect their land and their rights.  First Nations communities in Canada have what seems like an uphill battle as new oil reserves are being discovered across the country including the Ring of Fire site in Northern Ontario that has also caused uproar from First Nations communities to once again protect their traditional land.  Communities are now trying to adapt and use green energy, in hopes to not support the companies threatening their land, and urge other Canadians to do the same.  Lowering the demand for oil can assist in halting projects similar to the Energy East pipeline and help First Nations communities across Canada to continue practicing their traditional ways of life.