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(en) Blockade - Halfway River First Nation; Press Release

From tintin <tintin@tao.ca>
Date Fri, 17 Aug 2001 17:00:11 -0400 (EDT)


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Halfway River First Nation Prevents Access Along North Road to Protect
Sacred Hunting Areas

At 12 noon today, Chief Bernie Metecheah of the Halfway River First Nation
ordered that access be prevented along the North Road, adjacent to the main
hunting camp that lays directly in the path of the proposed Petro Canada
pipeline. The Chief made this serious decision with the consent of the
entire Halfway Community.

For years, the Halfway River First Nation has been frustrated by attempts to
negotiate with government and industry regarding exploding resource
developments on their traditional lands. Hundreds of letters have been sent
and many meetings have been attended. To date, they have been a waste of
time - nothing has come out of these actions.

Chief Metecheah states: "Out Treaty 8, signed in 1899, constitutionally
guarantees us the right to enjoy our traditional rights, without
interference by resource developers authorized by the Province of British
Columbia. We had hoped that the Province and resource companies would have
learned a lesson from our well known legal challenge that led to the
successful Halfway Court Decision against the Province. We are now ready to
prove our rights again by all available means ..."

At a community meeting last Friday, the Halfway people expressed concern
that the traditional lands, especially the hunting grounds along North Road
were "dying a death of a thousand cuts", with the on-going clearance of the
Petro Canada pipeline work - combined with the 30 other companies wanting
pieces of Halfway traditional lands for natural gas developments They felt
that the immediate concern is the specter of the 23 km long proposed Petro
Canada pipeline poised to destroy 4 out of 7 hunting camps along the North
Road that have been continuously used for generations.

If built, elders fear that the Petro Canada pipeline will open up the area
with more lateral or 'feeder' pipelines, roads and gas wells and establish
access for non-native hunters on ATVs.

>From a conservation biology stand-point, the fastest way to destroy traplines,
driving away fur-bearing animals and destroying habitats for elk, moose and
deer is to fragment the forest environment. Historically that is what oil
and gas activities do.

Elder Edward Achla sums up the importance of the North Road hunting areas to
the Beaver People of the Halfway River First Nation: "This hunting camp is
one of our most sacred areas and is dear to our people. It is our 'food
basket' for elk, deer and moose.'

Support for the actions of Halfway is pouring in from First Nations in
Alberta and British Columbia. A letter of support from Cold Lake First
Nation pledges strong support and the intervention of an UN team examing
conditions and environmental problems in the Cold Lake area.

At a Chiefs meeting, at the protest camps, along the North Road on Saturday,
Chief Stewart Phillips, President of the powerful Union of BC Indian Chiefs,
offered the unlimited support of the Union, honouring the goals and actions
of the Halfway River First Nation . . . "your struggle in our struggle. We
must fight together to enforce our rights and protect our traditional lands
for future generations", said Chief Phillips.

In conclusion, the demands of the Halfway River First Nation are as follows:

1. A total moratorium on all resource developments on Halfway First Nation's
traditional lands, until an independent and comprehensive cumulative
environmental impact assessment (EIA) be completed, with First Nation's
involvement.

2. A demand that the Federal Government, live up to its fiduciary
responsibility and negotiate the interpretation and implementation of our
treaty rights.

3. All resource developers immediately agree to negiotiate agreements with
the First Nation relating to proper consultations, avoidance of interference
with Treaty rights, mitigation and compensation for damages and guarantees
of socio-economic benefits to the First Nation.

4. A stop to the proposed Petro Canada pipeline.

                                  -30-

For further information please contact:

Chief Bernie Metecheah
Councillor Bobby Jackson
at (250) 772-5058

Halfway River First Nation
Box 59, Wonowon, BC
V0C 2N0
ph: (250) 772-5058
fx: (250) 772-5200


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