Leaders representing 30 First Nations communities from Alberta to northwest B.C. have launched a GoFundMe campaign to fundraise for a legal challenge to a proposed oil-tanker ban on Canada’s northwest coast.
In a statement released on Jan. 24, the Chiefs Council claimed the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act — otherwise known as Bill C-48 — was promoted mostly through the lobbying efforts of foreign environmental NGOs, and that its economic impact will ultimately harm the First Nations communities the council represents.
“What this tanker ban does is cut off all our opportunities revenue-wise,” said Gary Alexcee, vice-chair for the Chiefs Council.
The GoFundMe campaign would help cover the legal costs of fighting the bill, which passed second reading in October, 2017. The Oil Tanker Moratorium Act bans oil tankers that are carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude oil, or persistent oil, from stopping or unloading at ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s North Coast. To date, the fund has raised $15,006.
“Those communities are so impoverished that there is no other way for them to fight other than through this GoFundMe campaign,” Alexcee said.
The Chiefs Council supports Eagle Spirit Pipeline, a pipeline that would bring oil from Alberta to the northern West Coast. Alexcee said the tanker ban would be an obstacle to the pipeline, and prevent First Nations communities from receiving the revenue from the project. He added that the federal government enacted the ban without consulting key First Nations communities who would be impacted by it.
“[Federal Minister of Transport] Marc Garneau…never came to Lax Kw’alaams, never came to the Nass Valley,” Alexcee said. “We’ve reached out to Kitkatla and Metlakatla and they never saw the minister or their people in their community.”
In an interview with the Northern View on November, 2017, Garneau said he has spoken with Coastal First Nations, Metlakatla, Haida, Lax Kw’alaams, Haisla, Nisga’a as well as stake holders in the shipping industry and environmental groups during a series of consulations along the coast.
“There was not a unanimous consensus,” he said. “There are a range of opinions but we feel what we are doing represents the majority.”