Endbridge – Why The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal And All Tar Sands Expansion From Alberta To The B.C. West Coast Will Be Stopped In Its Tracks By The Unity Of Indigenous Nations

Endbridge – Why The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal And All Tar Sands Expansion From Alberta To The B.C. West Coast Will Be Stopped In Its Tracks By The Unity Of Indigenous Nations

If you have ever driven on most of the northern highways in northern Alberta you will be presented with a picture of a tame prairie terrain, with sprawling fields and farms holding cows and the occasional conventional oil pump jack. A few kilometers on any of the gravel access roads however and you will see a much more bleaker picture of out of control industrialization and poisoning of the land. This is unless of course you witness the tar sands machines of death on Highway 63 near Fort McMurray and Fort McKay, or the massive underground mining operations in the Peace River and Cold Lake regions disrupting and contaminating underground water. What most modern thinkers fail to understand is thousands years of history from the ancestors of Cree, Dene, Blackfoot, Nakoda and Metis people. Living nations of people who simply cannot afford the luxury of packing up and moving as settlers when there is no longer work. These lands are home to these nations and are not sacrifice zones. And like a deadly contagious all-consuming disease, what has been done to Alberta by the oil industry cannot be allowed to spread to other parts of the world killing indigenous ways of life and jeopardizing the future for all.

Enbridge, and the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands Gigaproject, is attempting to retrace the steps taken by the Hudson’s Bay Company with classic colonial strategy. The Hudson’s Bay Company was the first corporation on Turtle Island, here in North America. The Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading forts also became the first settler governments for the British Empire. In Alberta, the first settlement and colonial government in Alberta was in Fort Chipewyan, which would today is seen as the international poster community for a Cree, Dene and Metis community directly impacted by 40 years of out of control open pit tar sands mining. The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is renewing a pipeline proposal and expansions originally proposed nearly 10 years ago and is supported by the Stephen Harper Conservative Canadian Government.

Just one week after the largest oil pipeline spill in Alberta in 30 years in unceded Lubicon Cree Territory, a spill that took six days for the Alberta government to respond in a half-assed, indifferent manner, starting with faxing a one-page “fact sheet” update about the disaster, a large contingent from the Yinka Dene Alliance from the northwest interior of B.C. were arriving in Calgary to confront Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project and tanker traffic.

On May 11th, 2011, on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Calgary, Alberta, a historic solidarity statement of opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal was signed by leaders of the Blood Tribe, Alexander First Nation, Lubicon Lake Nation, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, Sai’kuz First Nation, Nadleh Whuten, Takla Lake First Nation and the Nakazdli First Nation.

The day after the Enbridge AGM a rally was held in Prince Rupert, B.C. on May 12th, outside a meeting sponsored by Enbridge for the Northern BC Municipalities Convention. With a historic turn-out of over 500 Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents of the island of Lach Kaien, known in the mainstream society as Prince Rupert, publicly and loudly demonstrating their opposition to the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline proposal as well as any tar sands tanker traffic that would support the industry of dirty crude oil and liquid condensate.

Lach Kaien, or Prince Rupert, is known to the Tsimshian as the “Cradle of Tsimshian Civilization,” according to a hereditary chief of the Gits’iis tribe, Sm’ooygit Nisyaganaat. The Prince Rupert Harbor contains the most dense archaelogical sites north of Mexico City and is the second deepest harbor in the world. Lach Kaien is surrounded by Tsimshian communities traditionally comprised of 11 Tsimshian villages, as well as neighboring nations from the Haida, Haisla, Heiltsuk, Gitksan, Nisga’a, Tahltan, and Tlingit. To this day the indigenous population of the town of Prince Rupert is still between 40-50%, with all industries heavily dependent upon the commerce, labor and resources of Indigenous coastal nations.

A few coastal communities however have not yet made a clear position on whether or not to support the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project and any western tar sands crude oil expansion. These include among the largest of coastal communities of Lach hlgu K’alaams (Lax Kw’Alaams) or Port Simpson, and Gitkxaahla (Kitkatla), where the still active traditional laws and feasting systems of hereditary chiefs is still strong and holds much influence over the non-surrendered tribal territories in the region of Prince Rupert, Hecate Strait, and the Skeena and Nass Rivers.

These are nations still waiting to awaken to take their place and decide for themselves what is allowed into the lands and waters of nations that have lived and thrived on this edge of the world for thousands of years. To uphold the traditional laws and protocols of respect and responsibilities known as Ayaawk and Gugwiltx Yaans and not be steered by any settler government, environmental group, or any funding body with non-Indigenous agendas. Especially is true that Indigenous grassroots leaders are still fighting the oppression of the Indian Act system and the federal Canadian employees of many Band Councils maintaining the silencing of traditional hereditary leadership systems through which the sole jurisdiction of all territories flows through.

Indigenous lands and waters are to be spoken for and by Indigenous minds and communities. Enbridge Northern Gateway, and all tar sands pipelines and expansions such as the Kinder Morgan TMX Northern Leg Extension, the Pembina Pipeline, the PNG KSL Pipeline, the Kitimat and Prince Rupert Liquid Natural Gas Terminals, and the Prince Rupert “New World” Container Ports are just a few of the many modern obstacles in the path of standing up the original structures and ways of life with which to free Indigenous nations on this edge of the world.

Links to the rally and demonstration held in Lach Kaien and declarations of war against Enbridge -

http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/enbridge-pipeline-faces-prospect-civil-disobedience-500-strong-crowd-rallies-outside-1514236.htm

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/greenpage/121784899.html

http://www.muskegnews.com/protest-enbridge0512

http://wcel.org/media-centre/media-releases/coastal-first-nations-tanker-ban-creates-new-legal-risks-and-uncertainty

http://savethefraser.ca/

Statement of Solidarity of Indigenous Nations opposed to Enbridge Northern Gateway -

May 10th, 2011 – Calgary, Alberta, territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy

WE THE UNDERSIGNED INDIGENOUS NATIONS STATE IN SOLIDARITY:
Our Nations are bound together by the water which is our lifeblood. We have protected our lands and waters since time immemorial, each according to our laws and traditions. The waters of Indigenous peoples throughout the lands known as western Canada are being threatened by fossil fuel exploitation and transportation.

We exercise our rights to sustain our cultural and economic well-being. The laws of each of our peoples are deeply embedded in our cultures and practices. These laws have never been extinguished and our authority continues in our lands. Our peoples continue to live by them today.

We have come together on May 10, 2011 in the city of Calgary, Alberta, in the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, to declare to the governments of Alberta, British Columbia, as well as Enbridge Inc., all of its subsidiary bodies, and the domestic and international financial institutions supporting Enbridge, THE FOLLOWING:

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and tankers project will expose Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities from the Pacific Coast across to Alberta to the risk of pipeline and supertanker oil spills, just as we have seen recently with Enbridge’s massive spill in Michigan, the recent devastating spill in Lubicon Cree territory, the recent TransCanada pipeline spill in North Dakota, as well as the effects of the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon disaster. Tar sands bitumen has been demonstrated to corrode pipelines more rapidly than conventional oil, increasing the likelihood of catastrophic spills. Given the seismic volatility of the region, the recent earthquake in Japan also underlies our grave concerns about the risk of oil spills.

The urgency of global climate change, and the fact that Indigenous peoples are among those most impacted by climate change, also compels us to act.

We have witnessed the Coastal First Nations Declaration banning crude oil tankers on the Pacific North Coast, and the Save the Fraser Declaration banning crude oil transportation through the Fraser River watershed. Each of these Declarations is based in Indigenous law and is an expression of Indigenous decision-making authority.

Enbridge states that it intends to proceed with its Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers, with or without First Nations consent. A decision by Canada to approve this project, without the free, prior and informed consent of affected Nations, will be a violation of our Treaties, our rights, and our laws, and will be in breach of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international accords.

THEREFORE we stand in solidarity with the Coastal First Nations, and the Nations who have signed the Save the Fraser Declaration, and are united in stating that Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and tanker project, as well as other fossil fuel development projects including Keystone XL, must not proceed without obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of all affected First Nations.

AND FURTHER if such consent is not obtained, no construction of such projects shall proceed.

SIGNED in the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy, at the city of Calgary, May 10 2011

Sai’kuz First Nation

Nadleh Whut’en

Takla Lake First Nation

Nakazdli First Nation

Blood Tribe

Alexander First Nation

Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation

Lubicon Lake Nation

Stop the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline, Tanker Traffic and All Tar Sands Expansions to B.C.’s Northwest Coast!


Stop the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline, Tanker Traffic & All Tar Sands Expansions to B.C.’s Northwest Coast!

The Enbridge Gateway Pipeline project is the leading and largest Alberta Tar Sands twin pipeline proposed for expansion to the B.C. northwest coast. There are currently 5 pipelines, new and expansions, proposed across Northern B.C. potentially transporting up to a gradual increase of a 700,000 barrels of oil per day. The Enbridge Gateway Pipeline project in particular will travel across approximately 1,000 pristine streams, rivers, lakes, and natural wild salmon spawning grounds, a total one-way distance of 1,170 kilometers. The diversity and sensitivity of the wildlife is far more important then transporting heavy toxic crude and volatile condensate across the region. In addition to the shortcomings of this overall project, there are a very limited number of sustainable jobs available to local people who live in the region.

The current projects being proposed are:
* Enbridge Gateway Project (2 pipelines, one condensate and one tar sands crude)
* Kinder Morgan TMX Pipeline
* Pembina Pipeline Inc.
* KSL “Pacific Trail” Pipeline

The Enbridge Gateway Pipeline Project consists of two proposed pipelines stretching 1,170 kilometres from Bruderheim, Alberta (northeast of Edmonton) to Kitimat on the northwest coast. Continue reading ‘Stop the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline, Tanker Traffic and All Tar Sands Expansions to B.C.’s Northwest Coast!’

We Stand in TOTAL rejection of the Joslyn North Mine Proposal

“We should not develop the unconventional fossil fuels. Those fuels – coal and tar sands – are so dirty and have such large regional negative consequences that it only makes sense to leave them in the ground,” says scientist Dr. James Hansen

“I would seriously consider a moratorium on all tailings ponds until impact is understood,” says “Avatar’ Hollywood Director James Cameron

On Tuesday, October 5th, the ERCB Hearing on Total’s proposed Joslyn North Mine project re-adjourned, this time at the Coast Edmonton Hotel East in Sherwood Park near Edmonton.

For one thing the location is largely inaccessible to the public, located in the heart of upgraders and right next door to Total’s office. Also, the Hearings were located in the ‘Empire Room’ of the Coast Hotel, so very befitting to a packed room full of lawyers and suit-and-ties representing the pro-mining cheerleaders of industry and government.

The first day in Sherwood Park began with Karin Buss from Ecojustice opening as legal counsel on behalf of OSEC (Oil Sands Environmental Coalition). Then it was time for OSEC’s presentation, beginning with Simon Dyer and Nathan Lemphers from the Pembina Institute. The third expert witness was famous scientist Dr. James Hansen. Continue reading ‘We Stand in TOTAL rejection of the Joslyn North Mine Proposal’

TOTAL Failure to Respect Life, Humanity, and Earth

 

Civilization's Addiction to Oil - Impacted Communities Are Held Hostage by the Industry

 

Amiskwaciwaskahikan. Edmonton, Alberta. Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

On September 22nd, 2010, economic and political pressure from Total positions Mikisew Cree First Nation in a difficult and complicated situation to sign a confidential ‘social contract’ for an undisclosed sum of money. The Joint Panel Review examining Total’s application for the Joslyn North Open Pit Mine Project adjourned the hearing and will reconvene on Tuesday, September 28th, in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Initially at the outset of the hearing Total was faced with a significant legal challenge from the Mikisew Cree First Nation regarding treaty rights. The Mikisew Cree First Nation withdrew their intervenor status, their constitutional challenge with their treaty rights, and settled with Total in a confidential agreement. Continue reading ‘TOTAL Failure to Respect Life, Humanity, and Earth’

Hearing for Total’s Joslyn Open Pit Mine begins in Fort McMurray, Alberta tomorrow

On Tuesday, September 21st, 2010, French Oil Giant Total begins the hearing process in Fort McMurray, Alberta, as an application for their proposed Joslyn Mine. From Total’s own admission the new open pit mine will:

  • Result in one and a half million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution each year, equivalent to putting over 270,000 cars on the road.
  • Destroy seven thousand hectares of land, equivalent to the 13,000 football fields, with no realistic hope of reclamation of these areas to the same natural state they were in before.
  • Result in the production of 12.5 billion litres of toxic tailings waste each year, and over the project life amounting to a volume large enough to fill over 100 sports stadiums, without any proven plan to keep these toxic materials from entering the region’s lands and waters.
  • Result in the production of 2,740 tonnes of pollution each year that causes acid rain.
  • Remove and pollute up to 22 billion litres of fresh water from the Athabasca River each year.

There has been no process showing ‘free, prior and informed consent’ with the Indigenous communities in the region, including the Mikisew Cree First Nation, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, or the Fort McKay First Nation. Treaty rights and Indigenous sovereignty is grossly undermined and disrespected as health problems, including documented cases of rare cancers, continue to increase within these impacted communities directly related to existing tar sands operations. Continue reading ‘Hearing for Total’s Joslyn Open Pit Mine begins in Fort McMurray, Alberta tomorrow’


dustinatsierra


Dustin Johnson is a born and raised Tsimshian from Prince Rupert and Terrace, B.C. Dustin graduated from the University of British Columbia with a focus on First Nations Studies and Political Science. He acted as an organizer with the UBC Indigenous Student's Society deepening his understanding of the impacts economic development can have on communities and cultures. Dustin recently moved to Edmonton to work as the Energy Campaigner for the Sierra Club Prairie. Presently he works with communities to address the catastrophic impacts from fossil fuel operations and support a shift towards a healthier and sustainable future for the coming generations.

Community Picks