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
“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.