As AFN gets set to vote, youth council calls for chiefs to oppose Trans Mountain pipeline

The existing Trans Mountain pipeline crosses a river in Chilliwack, B.C., near Cheam First Nation. Lucy Scholey/APTN

A national group representing Indigenous youth is calling on the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to take a stand against the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline project.

On Wednesday, just as the AFN was set to elect a national leader, 19 members of the AFN National Youth Council released a letter calling on the chiefs to support those fighting the pipeline expansion project.

“We recognize the complexities and implications associated with economic security for our communities,” reads the letter. “While recognition of these imperatives is nuanced amongst First Nations young people across Canada; what remains intrinsic to all, is the shared frustration, anger, and hurt that comes along with these risks.”

In the words of the letter, the youth council is also calling on the AFN to:

  1. Refocus efforts on the sacred duties of protecting our lands and waters, ensuring a future for our young ones, and respecting our teachings.
  2. Prioritize the safety and health of our young peoples, and those yet unborn, over the supposed monetary gain.
  3. Support the young peoples and the direction they want to take when looking for alternative solutions.

This week, the federal government missed a deadline to find a private buyer for the Trans Mountain pipeline.

By the fall, the government is expected to purchase the Burnaby-to-Edmonton pipeline for $4.5 billion. That doesn’t include the cost of twinning the pipeline to nearly triple the flow of oil to Canada’s West Coast.

The expansion price tag is estimated at $7.4 billion.

“As young leaders of our respective nations, we continue to witness a significant number of our young people making sacrifices across the country to honouring their sacred duties,” reads the letter. “In this dynamic and challenging political environment, we want to prevent the inevitability of harm to our young people due to the inaction of our leaders.”

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