Chief Phil Lane Jr. makes opening offering at First Nations solidarity event opposing tar sands mining and pipeline operations in Canada.
Members of the Canadian Protecting and Restoring the Sacred CC joined First Nations of that region in a standing-room-only event in Vancouver BC, calling for free, prior and informed consent regarding environmental protections of the fragile BC coastline, and in opposition to Alberta Tar Sands operations.
Noted author and XL Pipeline activist Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine) spoke, along with several Indigenous leaders, about the threat oil pipelines and supertankers pose in the waters and environment of British Columbia. Two major pipeline projects are proposed through the region that would bring tar sands oil through BC and to Canada’s west coast for export.
The diverse group attending the event included Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation (speaking on behalf of the Yinka Dene Alliance), who related her people’s fierce commitment to this struggle and opposition to the pipeline:
“Our five nations hold more than 25 percent of this proposed pipeline route in our territory, and we will never allow it to be built!”
ar Sands operations in Alberta, Canada – Before & After
The feeling in the room was one of “enthusiasm and unity”, according to the Vancouver Observer.
Over 130 signatories have now joined the “Save Fraser” declaration.
“The declaration says it upholds our ancestral laws, the title, rights and responsibilities that we hold. We will not allow the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, or any similar tar sands pipeline, to be built. This is our law,” said Chief Thomas.
Vauncouver Observer reports that
“(Along with) Thomas and Chief Phil Lane, a number of other Aboriginal leaders stood to address the crowd. Sundance Chief Reuben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation gave introductions and brought his entire family on stage to welcome guests to unceded territory. First Nations actor Adam Beach also brought his children on stage, tearing up during a song about ensuring their future. And later, 10-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney sang a heartfelt song urging citizens to join the “earth revolution”.”
Quoting from the Vancouver Observer:
“(Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a Greenpeace campaigner from the Lubacon Lake Cree Nation in Alberta) went on to describe a disastrous spill that occurred in May 2011, when 28,000 barrels of tar sands crude leaked all over the traditional territory. She said neither the company (Plains All American) nor the government had attempted to notify the community, despite the fact that residents and schoolchildren were getting sick from the effects. Fighting back tears, Laboucan-Massimo displayed a series of aerial photographs taken in the days following the spill.”
Commenting via email on the event, URI Global Council Trustee Rebecca Tobias went on to add:
“It was an uplifting and encouraging event. I believe that we will see more of these positive, future-focused gatherings all across the US and Canada as people begin to find their voice and renew their commitment to building communities of conscience. Members of URI’s Protecting and Restoring the Sacred CC, Chief Phil Lane Jr.and Sundance Chief Reuben George, took part in the planning and presentation of the evening’s program, keeping true to URI’s commitment to, ‘unite in responsible cooperative action to bring the wisdom and values of our religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions to bear on the economic, environmental, political and social challenges facing our Earth community.’”
(Much of the above account is derived from a report in the Vancouver Observer. For the complete story, see: http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/2011/12/02/naomi-klein-and-first-nations-leaders-unite-anti-pipeline-forum?page=0%2C1 )