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Battleground year for chiefs

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The head of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says First Nations are entering a battleground in 2018.

In a New Year's Day statement, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of Penticton, president of the UBCIC, says there is a "smoldering, undiminished sense of determination, inspiration and hope" as the group rails against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Lawsuits against the project led by the Tsleil-Waututh, Coldwater Indian Band and Squamish Nation should be decided by summer, says Phillip.

"Should the approval be nullified, our attention will be squarely upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to take immediate action to protect the land, rivers, the Salish Sea and stop the Trans Mountain expansion project."

"There are tens of thousands of us, and we will do what it takes to stop this pipeline expansion project and tanker nightmare."

He said the project "flippantly downplays" risks to Coldwater drinking water, claims the right of private property over part of the Salish Sea, and ignored government promises on consultation.

"After many promises to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples including the fundamental principle of free, prior and informed consent, it is becoming clear we see that these promises have given way to a plodding shrug once in office."

There is no justice for Indigenous peoples without climate justice, he added. 

Phillip said First Nations will do "whatever it takes" to bring about recognition of Indigenous title, rights and treaty rights, adding now is the time for reconciliation by breathing life into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action. 



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