B.C. First Nation reverses decision, signs up for piece of Trans Mountain expansion project

But there is still stiff opposition to the pipeline.

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

(The existing Trans Mountain pipeline crosses a river in Chilliwack, B.C., near Cheam First Nation. APTN file)

Kathleen Martens
APTN News
After initial opposition, a B.C. First Nation has found a way to make construction of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline work for it.

And the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) has dropped out of a legal challenge it helped initiate last summer.

“(Our) leadership came together and determined that the agreement could be a tool used as part of a larger strategy to protect Secwepemc ancestral lands,” said Otis Jasper in an emailed statement.

Jasper, the SSN director of operations, said the Kamloops-area band signed a mutual benefits agreement with the company.

“The potential impacts of the pipeline project on cultural, spiritual, and historical connections to the land were considered, as well as the importance of honouring and upholding Secwepemc law when negotiating the agreement,”

The Upper Nicola Band in the same part of B.C. has also signed an agreement with Trans Mountain, the company confirmed.

“We are pleased with this development,” a spokesperson said in an email.

“It speaks to Trans Mountain’s continued efforts to work with Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) and Upper Nicola Band – engaging with them in a meaningful way to better understand their interests and their concerns, and working with them to jointly address them.”

A spokesperson for Upper Nicola did not return calls seeking comment.

In July, both bands were part of the group that filed an application for a judicial review of cabinet’s decision to approve the pipeline, which was purchased by the Liberal government for $4.5 billion in May 2018.

British Columbia’s Coldwater, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh bands, along with seven Chilliwack-area First Nations, are fighting in the Federal Court of Appeal for “meaningful consultation” and recognition of Indigenous rights and title.

The pipeline is a divisive issue for Indigenous peoples and Canadians alike.

It will twin the existing Trans Mountain line, making way for three times as much oil to be sent to Canada’s west coast from Alberta, where it will be shipped to Asia by tanker.

Construction that doesn’t require a permit has already begun, the government has said. But legal action is holding up multiple approvals and permits.

Kukpi7/Chief Ron Ignace noted his community has come to see the mutual benefits agreement as a tool to “continue to pursue title” as part of a larger strategy.

“SSN leadership came together to develop a contemporary solution to support the protection of Secwepemc ancestral lands and to honour the recommendations from previous discussions and reviews involving our people,” he said in a statement.

But there is still stiff opposition to the pipeline.

Many are concerned about the environment impacts the pipeline could have in their communities and the project’s overall contribution to green house gas emissions that drive climate change.

Kukpi7/Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith band east of Kamloops said her community remains opposed to the project.

“A lot of the bands are signing Trans Mountain impact benefit agreements, which I imagine would complicate their case,” she said in a telephone interview.

“The proper title holders are the people.”

READ MORE: B.C. chief says impacted communities should get first dibs on Trans Mountain pipeline ownership

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@katmarte

Investigative Reporter / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for aptnnews.ca. A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.


9 thoughts on “B.C. First Nation reverses decision, signs up for piece of Trans Mountain expansion project

  1. the full Secwepemculec hasn’t given one right for individual “Indian Bands” of INAC control to think they’re leaders in this voice of territorial interest,.. INAC Bands are in conflict of interest along with Canada, and their provincial crap,..

  2. impact Nation should be first to say,.. our territorial interest, never mind communities get first dibs,..

  3. Canada only represents 2% of the worlds carbon emissions and natural resources account for less than 10% of the GDP. We have the most stringent and regulated oil production and yet somehow the public has been convinced that we need to stop oil usage whilst we sit atop the worlds 3rd largest reserves?So 4 years of this has lost us billions in the economy and handcuffed the crucial oil industry to give us revenues to fund better initiatives.

    Future oil spills? Gosh how many decades has raw sewage from Victoria and Vancouver been poured into the ocean and NOT A SINGLE environmental group has an issue with that? Hypocrites or simply uninformed of that current huge killing of ocean life.

    Has anyone stopped to analyze the merits of improving existing natural resource burning equipment like cars, trucks, plants etc? Seems like there was no transition to become more efficient with fuels but instead a huge movement towards massive mining as thats whats needed to build solar, batteries, electric motors and supportive technology. So now we polluted oceans and rivers, air and we’re going to now give hell and pollute the ground we feed from and the remaining good waters with mine leaching and new industrial production of things we have yet to know the implications of? We’re doomed if the lot of you don’t wake up!

  4. It appears to me that when Kinder Morgan backed away from the Trans Mountain project Justin Trudeau and the Liberals already had planned to buy the line and give it to the first nations as part of Justin,s reconciliation package. I publicly stated this before the sale was announced . I also believe that this was the only reason that the first nations were allowed to block the construction after it was already approved and why the government did not even show up at the hearings. Prove me wrong, please.

  5. So a turn of thought the First Nations want to do it even with spills——–that would have to have a major crew for clean-up but it will work

  6. Trans Mountain is in Property Tax Arrears since the pipeline was built in 1953 on Un-Ceded Territory without consent!

  7. The Trudeau Liberals paid $4.5 Billion$ for an old leaky pipeline, which KinderMorgan paid only $500,000 for when they bought it, Not that long ago.
    Not $4.5 Million as the article states.
    And everyone knows None of that black bitumen is going to Asia, the LCC docks in Louisiana took care of that.

  8. It would be great if APTN would get the facts straight when reporting News or Information. The Pipeline was purchased for 4.5 Billion not Million by the Liberal Government.

  9. These DIA reps have no authority outside the DIA concentration camps. They sell what is not theirs for a few casino tokens….

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