January 2, 2014. Source: CBC News
This Sept. 19, 2011 aerial photo shows an oilsands mine facility near Fort McMurray, Alta. There are hundreds of major resource projects worth billions planned in Western Canada over the next decade. Photo: Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press
Simmering disputes over the oilsands between Alberta aboriginals and the provincial and federal governments will break into the open in 2014 as virtually every one of the many recent changes in oversight of the controversial industry comes under legal and political attack.
“All litigation, all the time, is what I see on the horizon,” said Larry Innes, lawyer for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
Over the last 18 months, Ottawa and Edmonton have rewritten the book on resource development. Everything from how aboriginals will be consulted to land use planning to oilsands monitoring to the basic ground rules for environmental assessment has been changed.
Governments say the new regime is more efficient, predictable and transparent. Aboriginals say it violates their rights and ignores their recommendations.
Note: Clayton Thomas-Muller is a good friend and Global Justice Ecology Project board member.
-The GJEP Team
By Laura Stone, June 27, 2013. Source: Global News
Demonstrators with the Idle No More movement block an intersection in downtown London Ontario, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
Aboriginal protesters involved in an Enbridge pipeline occupation are vowing more action this summer.
Clayton Thomas-Muller – who speaks on behalf of the Sovereignty Summer group, an extension of last winter’s Idle No More movement – said the group plans more protests in Ontario, including a proposed 4,400-kilometre pipeline that would carry between 500,000 and 850,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada.
“The Energy East TransCanada pipeline proposal is problematic. We’re very concerned about it. They should expect resistance to that proposal,” Thomas-Muller said in an interview. He also said they’re targeting a fracking project on a First Nations reserve in New Brunswick.
On Wednesday morning, 18 people were arrested and five charged criminally following a week-long occupation of an Enbridge pumping station outside Hamilton, Ont. Thomas-Mueller said the group opposed a plan to reverse the Line 9 pipeline from the Great Lakes to Portland, Me.
“We don’t want dirty tar sands crude flowing through southwestern Ontario,” he said.
Note: Clayton Thomas-Muller is a good friend and member of Global Justice Ecology Project’s Board of Directors.
-The GJEP Team
By Michael Woods, June 20, 2013. Source: Canada.com
Members of the Haisla First Nation march in Kitimat, B.C. as part of a rally in support of the Idle No More movement in 2012. Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Robin Rowland
Indigenous rights activists are aiming to “increase tension” this summer to oppose the Harper government’s agenda, which they say ignores aboriginal rights and weakens environmental protections.
Friday, National Aboriginal Day, marks the launch of the so-called “Sovereignty Summer” in which the grassroots indigenous Idle No More movement says it will band together with other activist groups to plan “non-violent direct action” across the country.
“The point is to increase tension,” said Sheelah McLean, one of Idle No More’s four co-founders. “To raise awareness and increase tension between people who are wanting to assert their rights and people who are unjustly forgetting about the rights of indigenous peoples.”
At play are many of the same issues that helped galvanize the indigenous movement in December and January when protests reached their peak: matters such as implementing historic treaty rights, the federal government’s changes to environmental protections, and consultation with aboriginals regarding resource development on their traditional lands.
“The one thing that’s going to stop this resource hyper-extraction is the rights of indigenous Canadians, and Canadians have to stand behind them,” McLean said. “Pressure on the government is essential.”
Note: Global Justice Ecology Project is in full solidarity with and support of Idle No More and all those who have signed onto this statement. Clayton Thomas-Muller, of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, is on the Board of Directors for GJEP.
-The GJEP Team
March 19, 2013. Source: Idle No More
Idle No More’s founders and its chapters across the country have issued a call to build mounting pressure, including through mass non-violent direct actions to be joined by non-natives, to challenge “the Harper government and the corporate agenda.”
The declaration, jointly released with Defenders of the Land, a network of Indigenous communities, leaders, and activists involved in high-profile struggles to defend their land rights, calls for a “Solidarity Spring” to precede a “Sovereignty Summer,” with actions on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, Earth Day on April 22, and through the summer.
“The Harper government’s agenda is clear: to weaken all collective rights and environmental protections, in order to turn Canada into an extraction state that gives corporations unchecked power to destroy our communities and environment for profit,” reads the statement.
“Harper is trying to extinguish Indigenous Peoples’ inherent, Aboriginal, and treaty rights to their territories because these rights are the best and last protection for all Canadians,” said Arthur Manuel, a spokesperson for Defenders of the Land.
Note: Global Justice Ecology Project stands in solidarity with the Mathias Colomb Cree in their fight against illegal mining activities on their territory. Resource colonialism must stop.
-The GJEP Team
March 17, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry
The sovereign Nation of Missinippi Nehethowak as represented by Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN) has extensive Ancestral and Traditional Territory. Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co., Ltd (Hudbay) has proposed Lalor Lake mine project which is on unceded Missinippi Nehethowak Territory and has failed to obtain MCCN consent to operate on their territory and extract their resources.
Chief Dumas attended with his community members and Idle No More supporters to the Lalor site on January 28 and March 5, 2013 and served two Stop Work Orders to the Hudbay and the Province of Manitoba. Both site visits were peaceful gatherings where community members engaged in drumming, singing and cooking traditional foods. The RCMP attended at MCCN’s request to help enforce Cree law.
Chief Arlen Dumas said, “We are sovereign and asserting our laws and jurisdiction over our unceded ancestral traditional territory. We have never gave up our lands, waters and natural resources. We have a responsibility to manage their use and protection. MCCN expected the province of Manitoba to uphold the rule of law and assist in enforcing the orders.”
Hudbay never contacted Chief Dumas to address his concerns, nor did the province fulfill its legal obligations to enforce the Stop Work Orders. Instead, both Hudbay and the province of Manitoba issued very similar letters to Chief Dumas telling him that Manitoba fully supports Hudbay’s activities on MCCN territory.
By Kristy Kirkup, February 25, 2013. Source: Toronto Sun
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence wants the United Nations to intervene on the federal First Nations file.
Spence, who ended a high-profile, 43-day personal protest in Ottawa in January, is now appealing to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
Spence, the International Indian Treaty Council and the Mushkegowuk People of Attawapiskat First Nation have filed an ‘urgent action’ submission with the CERD.
It makes six recommendations to the Canadian government, including a call for an “immediate meeting” with the Crown, federal government, provincial governments and all First Nations to discuss treaties.
Spence previously called for a joint meeting as part of her protest but feds agreed to meet with some First Nations leaders, including Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo.
By Kyle Carsen Wyatt, February 11, 2013. Source: The Walrus
Sometime this year, the federal government is expected to introduce legislation that will pave the way for fee-simple (read: private) land ownership on First Nations reserves. According to its champions—former Kamloops chief Manny Jules and on-again, off-again Harper adviser Tom Flanagan—the new law will generate business efficiencies, investment opportunities, and individual prosperity for the 300,000 Native people living on reserves in Canada.
Editorial boards and political affairs observers have commended the First Nations Property Ownership Initiative, a working proposal crafted by Jules and Flanagan, along with Christopher Alcantara and André Le Dressay, in their 2011 book, Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights. Proponents, who include a handful of First Nations, dismiss the alarms raised by most of the 600-plus Native communities in Canada, as well as Native studies scholars and the Assembly of First Nations. The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson has summarized their objections thusly: “The first is that native land is traditionally communally owned. Private property is yet another assimilationist Western concept being imposed on native culture. The second is that once reserve members own their land, they can sell it to non-natives, eroding the land base.”
Ibbitson rejects these concerns out of hand, arguing that “the legislation will be strictly voluntary. Only those first nations that want to embrace the concept of private property will do so.” This line of reasoning presumes that communities and individuals driven to desperation can freely engage in decision making, when in fact many of them will succumb to a coercive land grab that has been 500 years in the making. He also contrasts the proposed legislation with the US General Allotment Act of 1887, better known as the Dawes Act, pointing out that it was involuntary. He is not alone in dismissing the nineteenth-century law. Backers of the First Nations Property Ownership Initiative regard its dismal legacy as a trivial aside, a laughable historical analogy: different time, different place. But as Cherokee novelist and 2003 Massey Lecturer Thomas King observes in his new book, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, “When we look at Native–non-Native relations, there is no great difference between the past and the present.”
Note: Its no surprise to anyone paying attention that the Harper government’s aggressive resource extraction agenda is harming Canadian people – disproportionately First Nations – and ecosystems. While this new report calls for a ‘boom’ in environmental regulation to match the ‘boom’ in resource development, maybe the Harper government should instead look to the ‘boom’ in eco-defense and resistance. The real answers lie in Idle No More; the Innu defending their land against Hydro Quebec and Plan Nord; the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation fighting against tar sands; Sarnia fighting against Enbridge’s tar sands pipeline; Barriere Lake Algonquin fighting illegal logging…Canadians are standing up everywhere to advance a different agenda that protects the rights of First Nations, ecosystems and communities.
-The GJEP Team
By Shawn McCarthy, February 5, 2013. Source: The Globe and Mail
The Harper government is failing to protect Canadians’ health and environment from the pollution risks associated with the resource industry boom across the country, the Federal Environment Commissioner said in a report to Parliament.
In a series of audits released Tuesday, Commissioner Scott Vaughan pointed to several shortcomings, including the absence of regulations for toxic chemicals used by the oil industry and the lack of preparedness for major tanker accidents off the West Coast or for catastrophic oil spills on the East Coast.
Mr. Vaughan said Ottawa continues to subsidize the oil industry despite a commitment to the G20 to end such support. However, the government is dramatically scaling back its support, and is reviewing outdated liability limits that could leave taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars after a major accident.
The environmental auditor said Ottawa needs far more vigorous enforcement to keep pace with the anticipated growth in investments in pipelines, offshore drilling, oil-sands development, shale-gas production and mining, though opposition critics have accused the government of slashing environmental assessments in recent budget bills.
Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydrofracking, Idle No More, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Mining, Oceans, Oil, Tar Sands, Waste, Water