Indigenous nation in Washington state seeks meeting with feds on Trans Mountain

VANCOUVER — The Lummi Nation in northwest Washington state is requesting a meeting with Canadian officials regarding the environmental impacts of industrial projects on the Salish Sea off the coasts of Washington and British Columbia.

The secretary for the nation sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland this week, saying that projects including the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will result in unavoidable, irreversible and unacceptable harm to the nation's territorial waters.

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In particular, the letter points to the effect of increased shipping traffic on fishing areas, as well as the dangers of ship strikes, noise pollution and oil spills for endangered southern resident killer whales.

The letter says so far, Canada has dismissed the Lummi Nation's concerns with respect to Trans Mountain and shows no sign of acting differently with respect to a proposed three-berth marine container terminal south of Vancouver.

The nation says Canada's actions constitute a violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as international law that prohibits environmental harm across international boundaries.

Canada officially adopted the declaration in 2016, but legislation proposed to harmonize Canadian laws with its principles was quashed by Conservative senators last month.

A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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