First Nations slighted by pipeline consultation

Two Yukon First Nations are speaking out against lack of consultation over the Alaska Highway gas pipeline.

Two Yukon First Nations are speaking out against lack of consultation over the Alaska Highway gas pipeline.

The $26-billion US natural gas pipeline will have the capacity to move 4.5 billion cubic feet of gas a day from Alaska to Alberta.

TransCanada Pipelines, the company that appears set to win the contract, has made false claims in its application to the Alaska state government, Liard First Nation Chief Liard McMillan said on Friday.

“They’re submitting their application on the basis or on the claim that they have a vibrant relationship with the Liard First Nation when currently that relationship is actually dormant.”

McMillan asked the corporation to begin negotiations with the First Nation to ensure its participation on the project.

“They basically told us that they want to wait until after the 60-day public review process is complete under (the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act) and wait until the licence is awarded to TransCanada,” he said.

“We’re basically telling them that it’s not good to wait, that they should engage with us now and sit down and have those discussions with us.”

“TransCanada pipelines should not say one thing in their application to the Alaska state government and then do another,” he added.

TransCanada has been negotiating thoroughly with all of the First Nations along the pipeline’s right of way, the company’s vice-president of Alaska development, Tony Palmer said on Wednesday.

“We certainly have had direct negotiations with the Kaska nation,” he said

“And until recently Liard First Nation was negotiating under that umbrella.

“But recently they have requested to be dealt with directly and we certainly respect that request.”

TransCanada currently does not have any negotiations underway with First Nations.

The last round failed in early 2007.

“We had had ongoing negotiations with a couple of parties for more than a year and those could never be successfully concluded.”

Palmer could not explain why the negotiations had failed, citing confidentiality agreements.

The company has since had discussions with First Nations, to give them an overview of its application, but is not negotiating.

TransCanada, Canada’s largest pipeline company, applied for the licence on the Alaska Highway Gas Pipeline project in November, along with six other companies.

In January it was announced that TransCanada was the only applicant to satisfy all mandatory requirements laid out in the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act.

A subsequent 60-day public comment period ended last week.

Alaskan administrators are now deciding whether to recommend the application to the legislature.

If it does, there will be a 60-day period for the legislature to decide the fate of the licence.

TransCanada doesn’t intend to resume negotiations with First Nations until they receive a licence from the State of Alaska, said Palmer.

“I think we have good relations with the First Nations,” he said.

“And it’s my belief that all the First Nations along the right of way, both in the Yukon and in North BC are in favour of the project and are supportive of the project.”

“Our position is that we’re cautiously supportive or cautiously optimistic,” said McMillan.

“We would like to see more consultation with our grassroots citizens and elders understanding that we don’t have a land claim agreement at this point and the Liard First Nation currently doesn’t support moving ahead with a land claim agreement under the Umbrella Final Agreement.”

White River is another First Nation that has not signed a self-government agreement.

White River is also not satisfied by the pipeline consultation process. If built, the line will cross 20 per cent of its traditional territory.

On March 5, White River Chief David Johnny wrote an open letter to remind the Yukon government that aboriginal rights, title and interests have not been extinguished.

“The application by TransCanada … does not accurately reflect the unfulfilled legal obligations and fiduciary relationship that your government and Canada have to WRFN,” he said.

“Continuing to ignore these legal obligations is at a risk to achieving your department’s objectives and to establishing the economic relationship that the Yukon wishes to forge with Alaska and the US.

“We ask again that both parties put the dollars on the table to assist WRFN in engaging in meaningful consultation and participation in this project.”

The letter also emphasized recent legal successes of other First Nations in the south.

“Government and industry should be involving the Liard First Nation as full partners in this process now,” said McMillan.

“We think the TransCanada pipeline company has a good reputation and we think that they could probably do a good job.”

But many issues still need to be addressed.

“The pipeline goes through our traditional territory not only in the Yukon but as well in BC,” he said.

“So, there’s a large potential impact to our community and our citizens.”

Just Posted

The Yukon has confirmed 33 active COVID-19 cases on June 15. (file photo)
A new study has discovered beaver castoreum on a 6,000-year-old Yukon atlatl-throwing dart. Photo courtesy of Yukon Government.
Beaver casotreum residue found on 6,000-year-old atlatl throwing dart

The discovery of beaver castoreum on a throwing dart could be the first instance where its use has been identified in an ancient archaeological context

The Yukon’s current outbreak of COVID-19 is driven by close contact between people at gatherings, such as graduation parties. (Black Press file)
Yukon logs 21 active cases as COVID-19 spreads through graduation parties

Anyone who attended a graduation party is being asked to monitor themselves for symptoms.

Yukon RCMP and other emergency responders were on the scene of a collision at Robert Service Way and the Alaska Highway on June 12. (Black Press file)
June 12 collision sends several to hospital

The intersection at Robert Service Way and the Alaska Highway was closed… Continue reading

The sun sets over Iqaluit on Oct. 26, 2020. Nunavut’s chief public health officer says two COVID-19 cases at Iqaluit’s middle school came from household transmission and the risk to other students is low. (Emma Tranter/Canadian Press)
Iqaluit school’s contacts and classmates cleared after two COVID-19 cases

With an outbreak ongoing in Iqaluit, the Aqsarniit middle school has split students into two groups

An extended range impact weapon is a “less lethal” option that fires sponge or silicon-tipped rounds, according to RCMP. (File photo)
Whitehorse RCMP under investigation for use of “less lethal” projectile weapon during arrest

Police used the weapon to subdue a hatchet-wielding woman on June 4

Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents.
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

The move comes in response to a call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015

Teslin Lake is one of two bodies of water the Yukon Government has place on flood watch. (Google Maps Image)
Flood watch issued for Teslin Lake, Yukon River at Carmacks

The bodies of water may soon burst their banks due to melting snow and rainfall

Kluane Adamek, AFN Yukon’s regional chief, has signalled a postponement to a graduation ceremony scheduled for today due to COVID-19. She is seen here in her Whitehorse office on March 17. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
AFN Yukon’s post-secondary grad celebration postponed

The event scheduled for June 14 will be rescheduled when deemed safe

(Alexandra Newbould/Canadian Press)
In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on.
Terror charges laid against man accused in London attack against Muslim family

Liam Casey Canadian Press A vehicle attack against a Muslim family in… Continue reading

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, poses for a portrait in the boardroom outside his office in Iqaluit, Nunavut, on Sept. 30, 2020. (Emma Tranter/Canadian Press)
Two cases of COVID-19 at Iqaluit school, 9 active in Nunavut

Nunavut’s chief public health officer says two COVID-19 cases at Iqaluit’s middle… Continue reading

The Village of Carmacks has received federal funding for an updated asset management plan. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Federal funding coming to Carmacks

The program is aimed at helping municipalities improve planning and decision-making around infrastructure

Most Read