CALGARY, A.B. – A rooftop smudging ceremony where herbs were burned and prayers said served as a proxy for swearing in as the oral traditional evidence gathering part of a National Energy Board reconsideration of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project began Tuesday.
Lyne Mercier, the vice-chair of the NEB and chairwoman of the three-member panel hearing evidence, welcomed Indigenous presenters from the Louis Bull Tribe about 80 kilometres south of Edmonton as the first to speak as three weeks of hearings started in Calgary.
She said the NEB appreciates that the Louis Bull Tribe has a tradition of sharing knowledge from one generation to another through spoken word, noting that two hours had been set aside for presentations but video evidence could also be submitted if time runs short.
Presenters including elder Ivy Raine and band administrator and member Allison Adams-Bull described their family ties to other Indigenous communities along the pipeline route to the West Coast and their concern that their traditional hunting, fishing and gathering of medicinal plants could be affected by a pipeline spill.
The federal government bought Trans Mountain and its expansion project for $4.5 billion last summer only to have the Federal Court of Appeal strike down its NEB approval, citing inadequate Indigenous consultation and failure to consider impacts on the marine environment.
The NEB’s rehearing is designed to address the latter issue. The oral traditional evidence gathering continues this week in Calgary before heading to Victoria from Nov. 26-29 and concluding in Nanaimo, B.C. from Dec. 3-6.