OTTAWA, March 20, 2013 /CNW/ - 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
"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.
SOURCE: Yinka Dene Alliance
For further information:
Geraldine Thomas Flurer, 250-570-1482