09/26/2014 19:58 EDT | Updated 11/26/2014 05:59 EST

Gitxaala First Nation granted leave to appeal Northern Gateway pipeline

The Federal Court of Appeal has granted leave to the Gitxaala First Nation to apply for judicial review of the Northern Gateway pipeline project's approval.

The Gitxaala is challenging the federal cabinet's approval of the Enbridge project.

The court application argues that the federal Conservative cabinet did not consider the Gitxaala's aboriginal rights and title in approving the oil pipeline proposed by Calgary-based Enbridge.

"The federal government relied on an unlawful and unreasonable Joint Review Panel (JRP) report when it approved the Northern Gateway pipeline," said the Gitxaala in an emailed statement.

The statement says Canada also failed to provide reasonable accommodation and consultation regarding the Gitxaala's aboriginal rights and title. 

"We played by Canada's rules," said acting Chief Clarence Innis. "But all of our concerns were ignored."

Band lawyer Rosanne Kyle says the pipeline would interfere with the Gitxaala's aboriginal title, and their economic, cultural and spiritual way of life.

If the pipeline were to proceed, said Kyle, "huge tankers would travel through traditional Gitxaala harvesting territory which provides 80 per cent of their food."

Due to the number of lawsuits that have been filed, and the number of parties involved, Kyle says it is unlikely the court will hear submissions for several months. 

She says it's possible the court will decide to hear all the cases together.

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