A group of 61 British Columbia First Nations vowed Thursday to stop oil from Alberta's controversial oil sands from going through the province to reach the international market place.

Dozens of First Nations groups gathered in Vancouver to launch a campaign against the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway Pipeline project proposed by Enbridge Inc.

Members of the group sang and drummed through the streets of downtown Vancouver to the Enbridge office to deliver a signed declaration stating their opposition.

Chief Dolly Abraham of the Taka Lake First Nations delivered a signed declaration to the Enbridge office after security at the building refused to allow the group to go up to the office.

Standing on the steps of the company's headquarters in Vancouver, Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik'uz First Nation said: "Enbridge, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for uniting us."

Signatories of the declaration say the twin pipelines that would run 1,170 kilometres from an oilsands hub near Edmonton to the B.C. port community of Kitimat would pose the risk of an oil spill either along the pipeline itself or from tanker traffic along the Pacific coast.

Although the group believes they have the legal capacity to halt the project, Enbridge said the ultimate decision does not rest with aboriginal groups.

"A joint review panel made up of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, will make the final decision," said company spokeswoman Gina Jordan.

The joint panel is holding a public regulatory review process that is engaging First Nations groups and citizens in the decision making, said Jordan.

And she said Enbridge has signed a protocol with 30 First Nations groups, although she declined to release the names of those First Nations, citing confidentiality. She did say all of them are either located on the proposed pipeline or nearby.

An April 2009 publication by Enbridge features a picture of Chief Robert Charlie, of the Ts'il Kaz Koh First Nation, better known as the Burns Lake Band, during a Protocol Agreement with Northern Gateway in December 2008.

Charlie has since been replaced in an election and it is not known whether the change in leadership will affect the protocol agreement. Current Chief Albert Gerow could not be reached for comment.

Members of the 61 First Nations, of which not all are located along the proposed pipeline route, said they will do whatever it takes to halt the project.

"Civil disobedience is not out of the question," said Larry Nooski, from the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation near Fraser Lake.

Enbridge has been under fire in recent months for two high-profile pipeline leaks in the U.S. Midwest.

In July, a pipeline in southern Michigan spilled millions of litres of crude into the Kalamazoo river, and less than two months later, another line leaked in the Chicago area.

One of the proposed Northern Gateway lines would ship oilsands crude to the Pacific coast for export to energy-hungry Asian markets, while the other would bring in imported condensates, which are used to dilute heavy oilsands crude so it can flow more freely in pipelines.

Calling themselves the Save the Fraser Gathering of Nations, the aboriginal groups took out a full-page ad in Thursday's Globe and Mail newspaper to declare that they will not allow Enbridge to transport tar sands oil across their lands and watersheds.

"An oil spill in our lands and rivers would destroy our fish, poison our water and devastate our people, our livelihoods and our futures," said the ad.

"We will protect our rivers from Enbridge oil," it declared.

Northern Gateway said the public regulatory review process that will take place over the next two years will allow everyone to have their concerns addressed.

"Participating in -- rather than protesting -- the process is the best way for people to ensure their voices are heard," it said, adding that the Northern Gateway wants to ensure maximum participation of aboriginal communities and meaningful economic impact.

The company said oil pipelines are not new to B.C. and can be operated safely.

Alberta's oil sands are the second largest crude oil reserve in the world but development of the reserve has come under fire from international environmental groups that have dubbed it "dirty oil."

A group of Alberta scientists and aboriginals has called for the federal government to conduct an environmental study, saying deformed fish have been found downriver from the oilsands, and several companies, including Avon and Lush Cosmetics, have asked their distribution companies to avoid using fuel derived from the oilsands.