Court grants Gitxaala standing in Enbridge approval challenge

The Gitxaala Nation of Kitkatla has taken another step forward in its legal challenge to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

The Gitxaala Nation of Kitkatla has taken another step forward in its legal challenge to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

The band announced on Sept. 26 that the Federal Court of Appeal had granted it leave to apply for judicial review to challenge the approval of the project, meaning the court will hear and decide on its lawsuit. Due to the number of lawsuits that have been filed and the number of parties involved, the Gitxaala say it is unlikely the court will hear any submissions for several months and may decide to hear all the cases together.

But any delay will not deter the band from pursuing its legal challenge.

“We’re in it for the long haul,” said acting Chief Clarence Innis.

“We played by Canada’s rules, but all of our concerns were ignored,” he said.

“Canada has violated its own constitution. Section 35 of the constitution says the federal government has a duty to consult with First Nations and they haven’t done that.”

The Gitxaala contend that the project would interfere with their economic, cultural and spiritual way of life as well as their jurisdiction, governance and Aboriginal title. Given what is at stake, Gitxaala lawyer Rosanne Kyle said the importance of being granted leave cannot be understated.

“The issues raised by Gitxaala are so important to the cultural and economic existence of Gitxaala that it is critical that their challenge to the project’s approval be given a full judicial review,” she said.