The Northern Gateway Pipeline Project

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Throughout the past few years aboriginal politics, specifically those dealing with First Nations peoples have been of heavy interest in Canadian society. Unfortunately with such issues widely apparent on the political forefront there is bound to be significant controversy in the matter. Much of this recent controversy has been directed at First Nations claim to land technically owned by the Canadian Government; however the 1973 Calder case maintained that under the 1763 Royal Proclamation aboriginal rights to Canadian land do in fact exist (Foster, Raven and Webber 2007, 17). This creates an interesting political situation in which two self governing bodies may both hold claim to the same land. While at first this may seem harmless, a…show more content…
Stewart then notes the primary reason for the heavy opposition: “The coastal First Nations in the area, known as the Great Bear Rainforest, make up the majority of the population, and they don’t want the pipeline. They particularly don’t want tankers full of diluted bitumen — which is much thicker than crude oil — in waters where salmon abound in a complex ecosystem that has supported their people for centuries (Stewart 2015, par. 3) Without the opportunity to sustain their livelihood through aquaculture it is impossible for costal First Nations groups to be sovereign. For years those same groups have sustained their sovereignty by harnessing the salmon in the projected pipeline area, if a tanker was to spill bitumen the area would be permanently contaminated. Stewart quotes Art Sterrit saying: “There is no technology available to clean up oil spills. They just keep telling us that the chances of a spill are very low. But that’s not good enough” (Stewart 2015, par. 11). With even a small chance that a spill could occur, it is no wonder that Sterrit and many other First Nations groups are opposed to the project as the spill could destroy their entire way of life as they know it. The shortage in salmon could force the groups into starvation or malnutrition thus disrupting coastal First Nation’s ability to govern
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