March 26, 2013
Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of climate change deniers hell-bent on building toxic pipelines like an alliance between the First Nations and the Environmentalists. These are extremely brave people.
Imagine the Greenpeace crew on board the Rainbow Warrior sailing directly into the path of whaling vessels to stop that pointless slaughter. Or the Friends Of The Earth eco warriors who chained themselves into old growth trees directly in path of the chainsaws. Remember the Indian Summer of Oka in 1990 when Mohawk people stopped the Canadian Army at the border of their territory in order to shut down developers trying to build a golf course over ancestral burial grounds.
Oka, Quebec, 1990:
This evolving First Nation/Environmentalist movement is the scariest thing possible to the fossil fuel industry. These are determined people. Together they will be powerful. They’ll be buoyed by the recent Canadian Supreme Court decision that recognized Metis ownership, based on their treaty with Canada, of 1.4 million acres of southern Manitoba. If courts finally start to recognize treaties the people may find a way to shut the whole Alberta Tar Pit down. That’s a worthy goal.
Here’s a press release from the Yinka Dene Alliance website posted a few days ago:
March 20, 2013
For Immediate Release
March 20, Ottawa - Chiefs and hereditary leaders from ten First Nations with traditional territory in the tar sands and on tar sands pipeline routes in western and eastern Canada and the United States gathered in Ottawa today to deliver a clear and unified message: tar sands pipelines will not pass through their collective territories under any conditions or circumstances. The First Nations signed two historic agreements pledging their mutual support to one another in their respective battles to protect their lands, water and health from proposed tar sands projects.
“The International Treaty to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands Projects and Save the Fraser Declaration are rapidly gaining international support across Canada, the US and beyond. Whether or not Prime Minister Harper or President Obama approves the Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, the Keystone KL or the Enbridge Line 9 pipelines, they will not pass through our collective Aboriginal Territories under any conditions or circumstances,” said Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr., Ihanktonwan Dakota signatory of the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands Projects, whose traditional lands include the ecologically sensitive Ogallala aquifer along the route of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Representatives of the Yinka Dene Alliance, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the Yankton Sioux Nation and the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Nation stood together to demand a cap to tar sands production and say no to further projects.
“Forcing these projects through would contravene our Indigenous laws and our decision-making rights under the Canadian constitution and international law. We have said no, and we call on the Canadian government to recognize and respect our decisions,” said Chief Martin Louie of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation, which lies in the path of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.
The Yinka Dene Alliance, the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Nation and the Yankton Sioux Nations of South Dakota engaged in mutual signings of the Save the Fraser Declaration and the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands Projects, instruments asserting the illegality of tar sands projects under these nations’ own Indigenous laws. Leaders fighting the effects of environmental degradation on their rights and culture stressed that building more pipelines will increase tar sands production and destroy Indigenous communities.
“The Canadian government is spending a lot of money and time in the United States saying the tar sands are environmental and well-regulated, but my community — the polluted air we breathe, the polluted water we drink, the miles of toxic lakes — is living proof the Canadian government is telling one long, expensive lie,” said Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Alberta.
Four pipelines are being proposed to transport tar sands oil: Enbridge Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain, Trans Canada Keystone XL, and the Enbridge Line 9 reversal. First Nations represented along all of these proposed pipelines rejected efforts by government and industry to greenwash these projects and to push them through without consultation, stressing that Canada’s energy program must change to meet the challenges.
“We must ensure a clean and healthy world for future generations by providing different solutions. Together we are more empowered than apart. Our resistance is strong and growing and we believe we will succeed,” said Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, which is opposing Kinder Morgan’s new pipeline.
The Alberta tar sands currently produce approximately 1.8 million barrels of oil per day, but if industry and government’s expansion plans are approved that number could reach six million barrels per day. Analysis by the Pembina Institute shows the projected emissions from the tar sands are increasing Canada’s overall emissions. If the tar sands were capped at the current production, Canada’s emissions would decrease - not enough to reach the government’s 2020 target, but enough to stop Canada from going backwards.
The Save the Fraser Declaration is an Indigenous law declaration banning tar sands pipelines and tankers from crossing British Columbia, signed by over 160 First Nations and supporters since its creation in 2010. The International Treaty to Protect the Sacred Against Tar Sands Projects is a treaty of peace and mutual defense concluded in January 2013 between the Yankton Sioux and Pawnee Nations, marking the 150th anniversary of a historic peace treaty between the two nations and committing signatories to defending their territories and sacred sites from tar sands infrastructure.
Chiefs and leaders from both sides of the USA/Canada border signed the agreements and spoke. Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation whose territory is directly on the Alberta Tar Pit framed the immediate future, “It’s going to be a long, hot summer,” he said at a news conference. “We have a lot of issues at stake … we’re going to stop these pipelines”
Phil Lane Jr. of the American Yankton Sioux, pledged support for his Canadian cousins. “We’re going to stop these pipelines on way or another,” he said.
Chief Martin Louie of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation in northern B.C., said the pipeline opponents will never back down. “If we have to keep going to court, we’ll keep doing that,” he said, “The stakes are high and go beyond native issues. We’re the ones that’s going to save whatever we have left of this Earth,” he said.
This union of First Nations and Environmentalists will have enormous political clout and media attention. Back in February their ability mobilize people was evident.
Pix from Washington DC Forward On Climate rally February 17, 2013.
Yesterday a group of Cree people completed Nishiyuu - a people’s walk - that started three weeks ago with a small group of young snowshoers on the shores of Hudson’s Bay and travelled 1200 miles south to Ottawa.
By the time they reached Canada’s capital city the message was clear. Spring is in the air. The Idle No More movement is awake. The people have something to say. The drums are playing.
So much of what the First Nations people want; so much of what the Environmentalists want; so much of what I want is tied into taking care of our beautiful Earth.
Lincvolt gets it. She’s nearly ready to take to the open road and share her part of this most-important-ever issue.
Once we get out there, cruising, top down, wind blowing I’ve got a feeling we’ll hear the drums. You can’t help but hear them if you just listen.
— The Passenger