VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA and COAST SALISH TERRITORY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Oct. 22, 2012) - The Yinka Dene Alliance, a group of 6 First Nations who have taken their opposition to tar sands pipelines and tankers across the country and internationally, will bring their message to the BC Legislature today alongside thousands of British Columbians at the Defend our Coast rally.
"Our lands and waters are not for sale, full stop," said Chief Jackie Thomas of Saik'uz First Nation. "That is why we are here today standing in solidarity with our allies."
"The YDA Chiefs have achieved majority support of British Columbians in saying 'no' to the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan projects," said Chief Martin Louie of Nadleh Whut'en First Nation. "We will no longer accept BC and Canada governments imposing their decisions on major projects without the first people of this country's free, prior and informed consent. The environment and coast will remain safe for the future generations for all British Columbians to enjoy. The governments will not now or ever again be trying to force the oil pipelines through our traditional lands without our consent."
In 2012, the Yinka Dene took their Freedom Train from BC to Toronto's financial district, gathering support along the way. Over 16,000 people have signed the Yinka Dene petition calling on Parliament to recognize First Nations' decisions to legally ban tar sands pipelines and tankers from their territories. The Yinka Dene Alliance will be delivering the petition to Ottawa in November.
"We are blown away by the support we've received across the country in our struggle. The huge turnout today shows that people in BC and Canada do not see these projects as part of our common future," said Chief Karen Ogen of Wet'suwet'en First Nation.
"We are fighting to protect the public too, because it is not just our communities that are put at risk," said Hereditary Chief Tsoh Dih of Nak'azdli.
While First Nations are using their legal authority to protect the land and water from oil spills, the federal government continues to rewrite and weaken Canada's environmental laws to fast track pipeline projects.
"We're uniting to keep our futures safe and alive for all living beings," said Chief Dolly Abraham of Takla Lake First Nation. "Water is a non-renewable resource and we cannot afford the risk of tar sands pipelines and tankers."
The Yinka Dene Alliance thanks the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations for welcoming them into their territory.