Lower Nicola Band boycotts NEB’s environmental assessment hearings

David Dyck
(Left to right) Nower Nicola Band Chief Aaron Sam and Neskonlith Indian Band chief Judy Wilson announce their withdrawal from the NEB environmental assessment hearings, with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip looking on. (@earyn604/Twitter)

Lower Nicola Indian Band (LNIB) chief Aaron Sam was in the Lower Mainland earlier this week, boycotting what he calls a “flawed” environmental assessment process done by the federal government’s National Energy Board (NEB).

“We feel that what the government is going to do is a foregone conclusion,” Aaron told the Heraldin a phone interview.

“How can we ensure that our environmental concerns are going to be addressed when we don’t even have an opportunity to test the evidence by way of cross examination, to properly be able to assess the potential risks that could be there as a result of the project going ahead?” —LNIB chief Aaron Sam

Sam attended a larger protest outside the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in Burnaby at the beginning of the week, where other demonstrators made it clear they don’t want to see the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

But Sam said that for Lower Nicola, this wasn’t about Kinder Morgan. “We haven’t made a decision to support or not support the proposed expansion, but in regards to the NEB hearings, we’re not going to take part any more,” he said. “We’ve asked on numerous occasions to sit down with the federal government and the province so they can properly consult with us, and that hasn’t happened.”   He said there were a number of things about the NEB process that concerned LNIB. The list of parties who can intervene in the process is restricted, and they don’t take climate change into consideration, he said.

“We wrote a letter to the Prime Minister letting him know that we’re disappointed that he hasn’t taken any steps to address the flawed process like he said he would.” —Aaron Sam