Archive for the 'Indigenous' Category

At Greenpeace Action Camp, a vision of the movement we want

Hi All,

Here’s a crosspost of a blog by Dave Pomerantz at Greenpeace on last week’s Action Camp. I hope to see increasing discussion of a more collective movement!


Title: At Greenpeace Action Camp, a vision of the movement we want

Activists and trainers from Greenpeace's Coastal Canyons Action Camp

For a long time, corporations and governments have used the tried and true tactic of divide and conquer: they’ve tried to convince us that the immigrant rights struggle is different from the worker rights struggle, which is different from the climate justice struggle, to name just a few of the efforts to make the world a more sustainable place.

Of course, those divisions are false and self-serving: all of those struggles are linked by both cause and effect. The corporations, institutions and systems that caused environmental destruction by prioritizing the wealth of the few over the health of the many are the exact same ones that have trampled the rights of workers, immigrants, and the poor. And environmental crises like climate change promise to hit immigrant and poor communities the hardest.

Last week, Greenpeace hosted an Action Camp in Southern California for 160 activists where we focused intently on pushing back against those false divisions.

Continue reading ‘At Greenpeace Action Camp, a vision of the movement we want’

Doha Climate Talks: First Farce, then Tragedy

The lead-up to COP18 which started in Doha, Qatar this week, would have been farcical, if not for the tragic reminder from Hurricane Sandy that climate change is deadly, and is already upon us.

But for a moment, let’s appreciate the ironies:

Rio+20, “The Future We Want,” summit in June of this year was declared a failure on almost all counts. The tepid commitments, all voluntary, sound exactly like the future fossil fuel industries want. But in Doha, under the mandate of the UNFCCC, parties will agree on issues like finance, carbon markets, and REDD+.

Protester in Rio, June 2012.

Sounds reasonable? Think twice- COP18 is in Qatar, an OPEC nation with some of the highest emissions per capita that has been barely involved in climate negotiations. International campaigners Avaaz posted, “having one of the OPEC leaders in charge of climate talks is like asking Dracula to look after a blood bank.”

At least we can turn to our “climate leaders,” like the EU. Turns out the debt crisis has our European friends a little distracted from their climate commitments. Spain, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and France have all cut aid to renewables.

Well there are some “easy” issues to resolve in Doha, like fund transfers from wealthy countries to developing countries for mitigation and adaptation, right? But the farce continues- just in time for the conference to start, an international report finds that most wealthy countries are falling embarrassingly short of their commitments thus far for fund transfers. So much for the easy stuff.

Okay, at least they off-set their emissions! 25k metric tons of carbon was “eliminated” in the CDM carbon market to off-set 10,000 participants traveling to Doha. Yet this comes amidst mounting evidence that the carbon markets are broken, with the value of credits in the CDM plunging 93% in two years, and the EU system failing to reduce emissions. (I’ll spare the gory details of CDM’s social injustice.)

Yet, somehow in the fracas, carbon speculators are optimistic for Doha. Unlike the negotiators, they’ve figured out they can still make a handsome profit even if emissions don’t drop. In the rush to appease and appeal to business interests, negotiators have bought into a “Green Economy” narrative, where climate solutions are reduced to financial and technological fixes. REDD+, CDM, and other carbon offsets allow industrialized countries to avoid shifting their economies off fossil fuels, and speculators in new carbon markets reap the rewards.

The Doha skyline.

The choice of some climate justice groups to skip the trip to Doha is looking better and better.

So is the COP system broken? Can we expect anything out of Doha? With Sandy barely behind us, and more storms on the horizon, a meaningful U.N. process may feel like our last hope. However most major decisions are mapped out in preparatory meetings, such as those in Bonn and Bangkok this year.  While the presence of critical voices is important, so far the COPs have proven to leave out indigenous peoples, youth, and others most impacted by climate change.  We can’t count on negotiators to broker our future with fossil fuel corporations.

The recent position paper from Focus on the Global South offers a critique and an alternative: “The capitalist system is seeking to get out of this economic crisis through a process of reconfiguration that implies a new process of exploitation of humans and nature… …To confront the interests and power of corporations, our struggle must have as starting point the daily life of the people affected by climate change and not the UNFCCC negotiations.”

Around the world, more and more people are connecting the dots and challenging the root causes of climate change and false solutions. From the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas, to First Nations in British Columbia, to indigenous communities impacted by REDD+ in Mexico, people are taking a stand for their communities and ecology. As Hurricane Sandy showed, if we aren’t already, we all may soon be on the frontlines of climate change.

As Focus on the Global South writes, “A ‘one size fits all’ model like neoliberalism or centralized bureaucratic socialism is not the answer. Instead, diversity should be expected and encouraged, as it is in nature.” Real solutions come from the grassroots.

Natural Gas and Oil Frontlines: First Nations Lead the Way

This post originally appeared on the blog of the Population and Development Program, based in Amherst, MA, which works at the intersection of reproductive freedom, environmental justice and peace.

American environmentalists are declaring victory over the announcement that the United States will research alternate routes for the Keystone XL pipeline.  While Obama’s announcement was an encouraging gesture, U.S.-based activists are in danger of missing the forest for the trees.  We must look north, the source of tar sands oil, where First Nations people in Canada are directly confronting the accelerating fossil fuel expansion on their land, as we plan the next steps in our movement.

Indigenous Assembly Against Mining & Pipelines, November 2011

The Keystone XL pipeline is just one in a massive network of pipelines branching out from the oil fields of Alberta, illustrated by this map.  The trade magazine Pipelines International reports on this extensive infrastructure of, as they call them, “energy lifelines.”  While the tar sands (or oil sands) have received international attention since the protests against Keystone XL lit off this summer, pipeline expansion is occurring on many fronts in Canada: tar sands oil, conventional oil and natural gas which is being pumped out of Canadian soil. American activists have shown their mettle in facing down the importation of tar sands oil into the U.S., but where do they stand on the dozens of other pipelines that make up this spiderweb?

Traditional environmental leaders, Indigenous environmentalists and youth came together in unprecedented ways during the Keystone fight; now we must move forward with our eyes on the frontline. The untold story of fossil fuel expansion in Canada is its toll on Indigenous communities, or First Nations.  First Nations in Canada in active resistance show paths forward, as fossil fuel companies only intensify their development efforts.
On the same weekend that 12,000 protesters encircled the White House, the 2nd Indigenous Assembly on Pipelines and Mining took place in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories The Indigenous Assembly over the weekend of November 5th, issued this call to action:

Indigenous communities from across the province are gathering in Vancouver Unceded Coast Salish Territories to oppose this conference and those corporations who profit off the destruction of the land. No mining, no pipelines, no resource extraction on unceded native lands! Defend the people, protect the land!

The Assembly hosted No Mining on Native Land!, a march through downtown Vancouver on November 6th. The pipelines, notably the Enbridge oil pipeline and the Kimimat Summit Lake gas pipeline (or Pacific Trails), endanger the lands of Indigenous people who are dependent on trapping and hunting for survival.

Tribe members block PTP from entering unceded land.

The Pacific Trails pipeline would lead to a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) port at Bish Cove, an ecologically pristine beach, on the Western cost. The Enbridge and Pacific Trails pipelines would run alongside each other near the Morice River.  The proximity of gas and oil pipelines to each other is particularly dangerous, though the companies have made no statement on this risk.  Many tribal councils and governments have approved one or both pipelines, in large part due to promises of jobs, but among Indigenous residents on the land, resistance is fierce.

The same week, Likhts’amisyu and Unist’ot’en clans of the Wet’swet’en nation confronted officials from Pacific Trails pipeline (PTP), who were attempting to illegally enter their territory to move drilling equipment.  This nation is one of many in Canada on land unceded to the Canadian government.  The nation owns the land and PTP was not authorized to enter.   Tribe members blockaded the access road, and formed an encampment until the company removed all equipment and vehicles several days later.

The Unist’hot’en clan has also built a cabin on Wet’suwet’en territory in the path of the Enbridge pipeline, PTP and one other pipeline, to prevent construction.  They intend to defend the cabin and halt illegal construction on their land.  Mel Bazil of the Lhe Lin Liyin (The Guardians), which support the Unist’hot’en Wet’suwet’en writes,

A delay could benefit their [Transcanada and other companies’] plans to assist in what we consider the systemic scope of the Tar Sands expansion activity. Tar sands may require offsets to operate, and proposed pipelines that acquire tenure through band chiefs and councils, and through treaty agencies … could make deals without the input or involvement of grassroots and indigenous peoples, who experience the environmental damage and pollution.

American activists must link to the struggle of First Nations people resisting Enbridge, PTP and other pipelines.  The Keystone XL pipeline, once considered a no-brainer for approval by industry and legislators, now stands in limbo.  That is a success for American activists.   However, fossil fuels are an international industry, and NAFTA and other treaties have deeply linked the American and Canadian economies.  The frontlines of fossil fuel in the U.S. are inherently connected to the struggle unfolding in Canada as part of a global supply chain.

As collaboration between major environmental NGOs and Indigenous environmental leaders deepens and expands, we must not allow Washington insiders to define the terms of victory.  There is no victory until Indigenous communities, and all frontline communities, are safe from the indignities of fossil fuels.

Read Martha’s previous coverage of Tar Sands oil extraction, activism to stop the Keystone pipeline, and Indigenous organizing in the US and Canada in Resisting the Tar Sands: Bridging Communities & Struggles, published in October, 2011.

(Un)Ethical Oil’s Alleged Concern For Women…

Given recent major actions opposing the tar sands in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa, it seems that increased pressure on the Alberta Tar Sands has held oil lobbyists’ feet to the fire., a site devoted to advancing the ideas of right-wing pundits such as Ezra Levant who has popularized the term ‘ethical oil’ to refer to tar sands bitumen (aka “dirty oil”), has begun using women’s liberation struggles to justify continued extraction and expansion of tar sands oil.

The premise is that supporting “conflict oil” from Saudi Arabia would prop up a regime that is oppressive to women. The underlying motive, however, is not to talk about women’s liberation, but rather to deflect negative attention from the tar sands.

If women’s rights were of genuine concern to (and all the individuals that make it possible such as Ezra Levant, Alykhan Velshi, Kathryn Marshall, and their corporate oil buddies) then there would be conversation about the impacts that tar sands extraction has on women.

The tar sands boom has created dangerous jobs with long hours, fostering a culture of alcohol and substance abuse in the off hours. As a result, rates of sexual violence towards women have increased and women working in the industry have reported sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and unequal pay. Gender-based discrimination have also resulted in unequal access to higher paying jobs in communities in the region, and with skyrocketing housing prices and costs of living, there is also unequal access to housing.  Increases in female homelessness exacerbate the challenges faced by women in the area.

But ignores the problems that women in tar sands impacted communities face. In fact, the site’s main idea of “ethics” is based on a sense of Canadian superiority as a country which demands women’s rights.  This idea hides some of the blatant facts:

“Since 2006, Harper has cut funding for women’s advocacy by 43 per cent, shut 12 out of 16 Status of Women offices in Canada, and eliminated funding of legal voices for women and minority groups, including the National Association of Women and the Law and the Courts Challenges Program,” writes Emma Pullman, campaigner with Pullman continues to describe the parts of Harper’s agenda that specifically ignore the systemic violence faced by Indigenous women.

Tar Sands mining operations, pipelines, and refineries disproportionately impact Indigenous peoples by violating Treaty Rights, their right to say no  (free, prior, and informed consent or FPIC, which is outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) to industrial activity taking place on their lands. Tar sands projects have affected Indigenous peoples ability to hunt, trap, and continue traditional practices.

Furthermore, while environmental pollution and contamination associated with tar sands projects affects all people, the health impacts on women’s bodies are destructive to the future wellbeing of entire communities as women bear children. Given that the vast majority of communities living downstream from tar sands and most impacted by the pollution are First Nations communities, the tar sands have been called an “environmental genocide” by indigenous peoples.

So if these facts about “Ethical” oil’s impacts on women are so clear, why is implicitly calling for a boycott of Saudi oil?

Maybe they are trying to distract us; so, instead of planning how to make housing in Northern Alberta more affordable to women, I am writing a blog to counter’s insincere interest in advancing Saudi women’s struggles. Or maybe they are trying to dictate the conversation; so, instead of talking about alternative forms of energy that do not centralize power in large multinational oil companies, I am reacting to’s insincere interest in advancing Saudi women’s struggles. Or maybe they have just run out of good ideas, and are now pretending to care about Saudi women’s struggles.

Maybe tar sands opponents have simply done a good job at making right-wing pundits find any ludicrous argument to convince the general public that tar sands oil is “ethical.”

With two mass actions against the tar sands in September alone and another planned for November, all of which have garnered celebrity support and numerous headlines, it is no surprise that is trying anything to promote an industry so widely recognized as destructive.

The lesson? When we get attention, they get defensive. And they look silly.

This means that we do not need to waste our time countering their arguments (I am aware of the irony of this comment, given that I just wrote this blog). We can spend our time doing other, more fruitful things. We can organize creative ways to stop large oil corporations from destroying people and the planet. We can come together to demand that oil companies stop exploiting women through the workplace, their communities, and their bodies.

Oil companies and lobbyists may continue attempts to co-opt women’s movements (or others) as excuses for resource exploitation, but regardless, we  can still come together to build a broad base of people demanding climate and gender justice. Once we are united, we watch them expose their own contradictions and develop more poor attempts to justify their actions.

What’s the Story with DeforestACTION?

Is DeforestACTION– a reality movie and TV series about saving the forests of Borneo– really a path to global conservation, or is it possible that they are falling into one of the most common traps in conservation– ignoring the rights of the indigenous people who live on the land?

Over the last few months, the Borneo conservation community has been abuzz with word of DeforestACTION, a reality TV meets forest conservation meets orangutan rehabilitation extravaganza, complete with a 3D movie, a 6 part TV series, and world-wide online tie-ins where kids and schools can raise money to save the rainforest.

I know I got excited about it; they were going to take 10 people under the age of 35 and bring them to West Kalimantan to monitor an existing national park, to help with rehabilitating orangutans, and replanting a rainforest. Among others, the project is being run by Dr. Willie Smits, who has decades of experience working with orangutans and recently gave a very well acclaimed TED talk outlining how he succeeded in regrowing a diverse rainforest in East Kalimantan. The technological tools at play are amazing; supposedly, you will be able to go online and actually find your piece of land that you bought, and even measure how much the trees are growing!

This is an area I spent a lot of time in as a child, an area sorely in need to rehabilitation and reforestation. It’s also an area where indigenous Dayak communities live, and practice traditional agriculture (which involves small-scale swidden agriculture, which is totally sustainable when practiced on a traditional scale). Of course the DeforestACTION team, folks that have been involved in on-the-ground conservation for decades, wouldn’t fall into the same traps as the national governments and big greens (think WWF and Conservation International), right? Right?

The answer isn’t so clear. In looking at their online materials and watching their information sessions, it seems like there are a number of ways where it looks scarily like DeforestACTION is not taking into account the needs of the local communities. Now, I am hoping they are just skimping on this information on their website (local land rights issues are less sexy than orangutan babies). So, I wrote them. Here (in summary) are some of the questions I asked:

  1. The land for DeforestACTION is on long term lease from the government. Who owns it during the project time, and has anything been planned for after the project is over?
  2. Are there any local communities that are in conflict over the land with the government? Has the DeforestACTION staff actually talked to people in the villages about this (instead of just the government officials?)
  3. The Willie Smit’s plan for reforestation includes giving local communities access to sugar palm so they can make cash income. However, this isn’t how local people have ever traditionally made a living, and ties them into the (super unstable) world market. Has DeforestACTION considered what they will do if community members don’t want to change their livelihoods?

DeforestACTION has yet to get back to me. I’ll post again when they do.

DeforestACTION, with it’s money, it’s online presence, and it’s big names has the potential to really lead the way in terms of plotting a new course for tropical forests. Nothing makes me happier than to see regular folks getting excited about saving the rainforest. At the same time, they need to be leaders on all fronts, and that includes human and indigenous rights. Come on DeforestACTION, show us that you know that conservation without the communities just won’t work, and lead the way in a really long-term sustainable future!

Stand Up To Chevron, Demand Justice In Ecuador And Countless Other Communities Around the World

When BP, a UK-based company, came to the US and devastated the Gulf Coast, the company was forced to pay $20 billion to clean up and compensate the victims of its pollution. When Chevron or any other American company goes to a foreign country and does the same thing, we should hold it to the same standard.

Chevron was found guilty of deliberately dumping over 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste in the Ecuadorean Amazon and ordered to pay $9 billion to clean up its mess. But the company has vowed never to pay.

That’s why I’m standing up to Chevron to demand justice in Ecuador. I’ll be attending the protest outside Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting next week, demanding accountability from the company not just in Ecuador, but also in Richmond, California; in Nigeria; in Australia; in Kazakhstan; and in countless other communities around the world that have been impacted by Chevron’s reckless pursuit of profits.

A delegation of Ecuadoreans will be coming up for the shareholder meeting so that they can take their calls for justice directly to Chevron’s shareholders, management, and board members. They’ve just issued a passionate appeal to Americans to stand in solidarity with them. Together with the folks at Amazon Watch, the Change Chevron team at Rainforest Action Network is trying to get 30,000 Americans to sign this petition, one for each of the Ecuadoreans affected by Chevron’s business operations — and we only have a week to do it! Chevron’s shareholder meeting is happening on May 25th.

Check out the “Open letter to America” video below, and sign the petition. The Ecuadorean delegation will be delivering this petition with all its signatures to Chevron’s management at the shareholder meeting.

Tell Chevron to Clean Up Ecuador Now!

We can only hold Chevron accountable if we all stand up together. Please sign the petition so the Ecuadorean delegation can deliver your call for justice directly to Chevron on May 25th. And if you’re in the Bay Area, come to the protest outside Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting.

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 -

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

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

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

Help Expose Chevron’s Human Rights Hitmen

Chevron's Human Rights HitmenChevron’s latest bullying legal tactic is a RICO suit filed in a U.S. federal court against the Indigenous and rural Ecuadoreans who are attempting to force the company to clean up its billions of gallons of toxic oil waste in the Amazon.

One of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in Ecuador, Juan Pablo Sáenz, filed a declaration yesterday detailing the long history of abusive tactics Chevron has employed, arguing that Chevron’s counter-charges against the plaintiffs rest on Chevron’s “jaundiced worldview,” which holds that a corporate heavyweight like Chevron cannot be held accountable by a group of poor Indigenous and rural people whose power and influence pale in comparison to the Big Oil behemoth’s.

The declaration is a compelling — and galling — read. The depths Chevron has sunk to with its duplicitous maneuvering is staggering. Ever wonder how the company executes all these shady tactics?

Chevron has assembled a crack team of Human Rights Hitmen to employ any dirty trick, intimidation tactic, and shady legal maneuver conceivable to help the company avoid cleaning up its mess in Ecuador. We can’t let them get away with it — help expose Chevron’s Human Rights Hitmen. RAN’s Change Chevron campaign has created a mini-site detailing the work they’re doing to deny human rights to the plaintiffs in Ecuador. Check out the site and then help get the word out. There are buttons on the site so you can share.

Most importantly, you can help make sure journalists and anyone else looking into the environmental lawsuit in Ecuador find out the truth by linking to the Human Rights Hitmen on your blog, your website, or anywhere else you can, building the search ranking for the site. We need to make sure that when anyone looks into this case, they get the complete version, not Chevron’s spin. So when you post links, use keywords like “Chevron,” “Human Rights,” “Ecuador,” “lawsuit,” “oil,” “rainforest,” and anything else people are likely to use as search terms when looking for more information on the landmark environmental lawsuit in Ecuador.

Chevron is working really hard to push a narrative that portrays itself as the victim, and the RICO suit is just the latest attempt to push this bogus version of events. But there is a reason Chevron was found guilty: Because Chevron is guilty. If anyone is trying to defraud the courts and the public, it’s Chevron. These Human Rights Hitmen are the people pushing Chevron’s self-serving narrative on the public and trying to enforce it in the courts. Let’s all shine a bright light on their misdeeds.

Large, wealthy corporations like Chevron think they can get away with poisoning communities in their reckless pursuit of profits. The thing is, in many cases they can, thanks to dirty tricks operatives like Diego Borja, morally-bankrupt lawyers like Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Andrea E. Neuman and Randy M. Mastro, corporate spymasters like Kroll Inc.’s Sam Anson, and of course, Chevron’s own in-house counsel — none other than R. Hewitt Pate, a former Bush Administration lawyer who was once described as “Chevron’s Karl Rove.”

Help expose these Human Rights Hitmen and fight for justice for the thousands of rainforest dwellers who are still sick and dying from Chevron’s oil pollution.

Chevron Was Found Guilty Because Chevron Is Guilty

Chevron is Guilty: Delivery event at Chevron headquarters

Chevron is guilty of dumping a massive amount of oil pollution in the Ecuadorean Amazon and a judge has ordered the company to pay $8 billion to clean it up.

Chevron has vowed to appeal the decision, however, clearly intending to pull an Exxon Valdez and stall indefinitely, hoping never to pay its due.

So the Change Chevron team got together with our friends and allies at Amazon Watch, Greenpeace, Global Exchange, and Communities for a Better Environment, headed down to Chevron’s HQ in San Ramon, CA, and delivered a message to the company: Chevron was found guilty because Chevron is guilty. Time to accept responsibility and clean up your oily mess in Ecuador!

Check out pics from the event below. If you want to send your own message to Chevron, go to

Rally at Chevron headquarters Continue reading ‘Chevron Was Found Guilty Because Chevron Is Guilty’

The other Cancún…

The following is a recent dispatch from the Climate Reality Tour, a movement-building cycling tour from the coalfields of West Virginia, now present at the UN Climate Talks in Cancún.

12/6/2010 – Seven years ago the world’s small farmer, labor, and environmental movements converged in Cancún to stop the World Trade Organization (WTO) from tightening its iron grip on people and our planet.

The stakes of those talks were so high in 2003 that one Korean farmer, Lee Kyung-Hae, a member of Via Campesina, climbed the police cordon and committed a ritual suicide. Expansion of the WTO agriculture agreement would have meant death for millions of farmers, he said. He made the ultimate sacrifice to express absolute dissent.

Yesterday, with the global spotlight back on Cancún for the United Nations climate negotiations, Via Campesina marched to commemorate Mr. Lee’s heroic act. They honored his sacrifice by continuing in the struggle, demanding an end to climate change attacking its root causes, and to halt implementation of false solutions.

It’s no coincidence that Via Campesina is again in Cancún in 2010. Their organizations are clamoring for the same solutions as seven years ago. Support for rural, autonomous, sustainable development, an end to megaprojects like dams and mines, food sovereignty, land, water and other resource rights for indigenous peoples and small farmers who feed and cool the planet.

We in the global north have some catching up to do.

Movements elsewhere in the world are rapidly organizing, and organizing around root causes. Free from the framework of infinite growth and expansion and as opposed to embarrassingly over compromised legislation in the U.S., the solutions they advocate might actually prevent catastrophic climate change. There’s a near universal understanding that we must tackle the interrelated climate, economic and food crises with holistic new approaches, or humanity just might not make it. There’s a demonstrated willingness to sacrifice not just minor creature comforts or the added monetary costs of sustainability premiums on consumer products, but to literally put their bodies on the line, to brave acts of violence and repression that we can hardly imagine. To really sacrifice, like Mr. Lee.

So let’s not forget there are many Cancúns. 2003. 2010. The Cancún of the tourists and official delegates, and that of the workers and peasants, and social movements present this week. The 1,000s of Cancúns that will rise up in cities worldwide tomorrow, Dec 7th.

Join us tomorrow in demanding Climate Justice, NOW! The spirit of Mr. Lee and countless others will be with you, wherever you may be.