Thursday’s court ruling to halt construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline is getting high praise from Indigenous leaders in the province.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is celebrating alongside its counterparts in Squamish, B.C. after the Federal Court of Appeal overturned Ottawa’s approval of the pipeline’s expansion, citing a lack of proper consultation with Indigenous groups.
FSIN vice-chief Heather Bear said First Nations people just want to be treated equally during the project’s developments.
“The duty to consult, I think is a victory,” Bear said. “Our federal government (and) provincial governments haven’t learned yet what meaningful consultation is.”
“It has to go beyond tokenism.”
She has trouble understanding the lengthy appeals and court challenges that have dogged the project for almost two years, calling them a waste of resources.
“All of these reasons Indigenous people are continually having to go to court and we keep winning,” she said.
“It wastes time. It wastes money. They’re wasting valuable government resources — Canada is — because they just don’t get it.”
As Alberta Premier Rachel Notley pledges to withdraw from a federal climate change plan until construction resumes, and Saskatchewan Premier Scott More urges the federal government to appeal Thursday’s ruling, Bear is optimistic that Canada is moving towards the right path.
“I hope in the spirit of truth and reconciliation that Canada and our regions will start doing things right,” she said. “Right for our people… everybody benefits.”
“I think we need to celebrate and keep celebrating the federal court system. They get it.”
— With files from 650 CKOM’s Rena Montgomerie