The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would run from the Tar Sands in Alberta to the Pacific Coast where oil would be shipped to mostly Asian markets. The pipeline planned by Enbridge Inc. would cost 5.5 billion dollars.
The route of the pipeline would take it through land that belongs to several aboriginal groups. Shawn Atleo, who is national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said that the bands involved had "the right to free, prior and informed consent" over any projects that affected their territory.
The federal Conservative government is a strong backer of the pipeline and claims it would provide jobs for natives. But a number of bands oppose the project because of the risk of a spill. The concern is not only about leaks along the route but accidents involving oil tankers along the B.C. coast. Some of the bands threaten to block the pipeline construction even if it is approved. However other bands made be able to negotiate a deal with Enbridge.
Aboriginal groups are not on good terms with the Conservative government. They are demanding more control over their resources and over major resource projects a right that they claim treaties gave to them. Chief Atleo noted:"We have continued to lurch from crisis to crisis with deep social ills and deplorable conditions in our communities, very often when these communities are adjacent to major natural resources projects," For more see this article.