The First Nations (the Indigenous people of Canada) are opposing any pipe lines to be built that would send sand oil or bitumen to the United States. The reason given is that the release of toxic fumes which would speed up climate change. The opposition is also fearful of an oil spill which would damage the rugged and scenic coastline. The Northern Gateway has won support from Parliament and the Keystone XL which is meant to pipe sand oil is awaiting approval from Washington. Proponents of the pipeline cite that the pipelines are a national priority. These pipelines would open up the global market for industry, provide construction jobs and help diversify exports.
As a result of the Nexen oil spill in July, 2015, where 35,000 barrels of oil were spilled, First Nations does not believe there are enough safety precautions and measures set in place by oil companies. While some First Nation groups believe in the development of the pipe lines, they do not believe these oil companies have met with the proposed guidelines outlined by the First Nations. “All of these pipeline struggles across Canada are connected,” stated Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. “Even if the pipeline does not burst on your territory or contaminate your sacred waters – even if the pipeline is built on the other side of Canada – we will all suffer the climate-change effects from increased tar-sands production.”
The First Nations, which is comprised of nine native groups, promises to block the pipelines by protests and legal maneuvers. The most pressing question that has not been answered is the inability of the oil companies to demonstrate its ability to clean up oil spills. The indigenous people are concerned as a result of this pipeline, their traditions and increased population will erode. Chief Arnold Gardner of the Eagle Lake First Nation from Treaty 3 in Ontario states in a joint release with Mr. Nepinak and Grand Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake in Quebec, “it is pure madness.”