First Nations and union alliance emerges in wake of Supreme Court ruling requiring B.C. government to make a decision on Northern Gateway pipeline and to consult with First Nations.
Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories(09 Feb. 2016) — The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) signed a Solidarity Accord on February 4, affirming its support of the Save the Fraser Declaration, an Indigenous law signed by representatives of over 100 First Nations banning tar sands transport through their territories.
Opposition grows against tar sands pipelines and tankers
Adding the 65,000-member union (about a third of whom work in direct government service) to a growing alliance of tar sands pipeline opponents puts additional pressure on the B.C. government as it prepares to respond to a recent Supreme Court ruling requiring it to make a decision on Northern Gateway and to consult First Nations before doing so.
“We agree with the recent ruling of the B.C. Supreme Court that the province has not met its duty to consult First Nations on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway,” said Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer.
“Provincial decision-making on Northern Gateway is an issue that impacts BCGEU/NUPGE members, and we believe deeply that staunch opposition from First Nations cannot be ignored by governments in dealing with these types of proposals," Finch said. "We are proud to support the Save the Fraser Declaration, which demonstrates the resolve of First Nations in refusing consent for Northern Gateway.”
Community, business, environmental groups and labour have joined Indigenous leaders on the Solidarity Accord
The Solidarity Accord, which has also been signed by other labour unions such as Unifor and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, as well as business, environmental and community groups, was spearheaded by the Yinka Dene Alliance, whose members’ territories represent 25 per cent of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline route.
“We have never wavered from upholding our own laws and our conclusion that the risks are too great to allow Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and similar tar sands projects to cross our territories,” said Chief Stanley Thomas, of the Saik’uz First Nation.
More support for the Save the Fraser Declaration increases pressure on B.C. and federal government
“It has been heartening to see how strongly we are supported by people throughout Canada," said Nak’azdli Chief Fred Sam. “To have the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union standing alongside us is a welcome reminder of that.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs said, “BCGEU/NUPGE’s endorsement of the Save the Fraser Declaration is indicative that more and more Canadians are committing to respect the laws and authority of First Nations and their efforts to protect the environment, fisheries, and the health and safety of all B.C. communities from Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and other tar sands projects.
"Premier Clark and Prime Minister Trudeau be advised: the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway is dead, dead, dead," Grand Chief Phillip said. "We call on you to stand with us, and to work with us to come up with alternatives for real change.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE