The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SUMMER 2003











In this issue

Front Page


Summer Packet


From the Editor

Canoelit I

Canoelit II

Discovering Eden

Back page





Mackenzie Valley:

Opponents to proponents

Part  1  2  3


They’re still arguing, a quarter of a century later, about the Mackenzie Valley pipeline deal. Only this time, it’s just about who gets a share of what in a deal that’s going full speed ahead and the $5 billion, 1200-mile pipeline project seems certain to happen.

Back in the 70’s, the controversial megaproject required a judicial inquiry and produced the famed Berger Report recommending against the massive pipeline to bring natural gas from the Beaufort Sea south along the banks of the mighty Mackenzie River to southern Canada.

Mr. Justice Thomas Berger travelled to numerous remote native communities to hear their objections. Now, like their Cree cousins in James Bay, the Dene, Metis, Gwich’in, Inuit and others are largely in favour of  the project and see it as a key part of their economic future. Indeed, may former opponents are now proponents.

This time, however, natives are a part of the deal with the Aboriginal Pipeline Group clearing the final hurdle for the deal in June. The lengthy regulatory process will now begin.

In  May, 1977, Berger’s report Northern Frontier, Nothern Homeland recommended that any pipeline development along the Mackenzie River Valley be delayed 10 years, and that no pipeline ever be built across the northern Yukon.

“We are now at our last frontier,” the report began. “It is a frontier that all of us have read about, but few of us have seen. Profound issues, touching our deepest concerns as a nation, await us there.

“I discovered that people in the North have strong feelings about the pipeline and large-scale frontier development. I listened to a brief by northern businessmen in Yellowknife who favour a pipeline through the North. Later, in a native village far away, I heard virtually the whole community express vehement opposition to such a pipeline. Both were talking about the same pipeline; both were talking about the same region – but for one group it is a frontier, for the other a homeland.”

In the end, it seems the two words were interchangable.





 Summer 2003         Outfit 113 

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