indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Native Sun News: First Nation fights tar sands mine expansion
Friday, November 2, 2012
Filed Under: Canada | Environment
More on: alberta, energy, native sun news
 

About 50 people rallied in support of Athabasca Chipewyan demand for review of Shell’s tar-sands mining constitutionality in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, on Oct. 23. COURTESY/ACFN OFFICIAL BLOG

First Nation’s challenge over tar-sands threat could curb mine expansion
Canadian tribe rallies against Big Oil
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News
Health & Environment Editor

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta — The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) vowed to pursue arguments against Shell Canada’s proposed expansion of the Jackpine tar sands mine after a regulatory panel turned down the indigenous communities’ treaty-based demands on Oct. 26.

The communities filed a constitutional challenge Oct. 1, asking administrative authorities to decide if the governments of Alberta and of Canada had met their duties to consult with the constituents about the project. The challenge outlined governmental failures to uphold Treaty 8 and to force better protection of the resources needed to sustain rights protected under it.

The official Joint Review Panel ruled that it does not have the jurisdiction to consider the constitutional questions raised by the Athabasca Chipewyan and Métis Nation of Alberta Region 1.

“The panel’s decision-making authority is limited to making a determination as to whether the project is in the public interest,” concluded its ruling, based on an Oct. 23 constitutionality hearing. It set further hearings on that expansion issue to begin Oct. 29.

The Joint Review Panel was mandated by the Canadian Minister of the Environment and the Chairman of the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board, which regulates the development of Alberta’s energy resources, including oil, natural gas, oil sands, coal and pipelines.

About 50 supporters of the indigenous arguments rallied with posters and slogans outside the panel hearing. Among attending supporters of AFCN Chief Allan Adam were Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Grand Chief Bill Erasmus of Dene Nation, Clayton Thomas-Muller and Heather Milton Lightening of the Indigenous Environmental Network, Crystal Lameman of Beaver Lake Cree Nation and a bus of supporter from Sierra Club Prairie and Edmonton area. A similar rally took place in British Colombia.

Following the review panel decision, the Athabasca Chipewyan communities’ official blog announced, “ACFN is not about to stand down and we are gearing up for the long haul and hope that the support that has come in will continue.”

Shell Canada intends to add mining and processing facilities about 35 miles north of Fort McMurray on the east side of the Athabasca River adjacent to the existing Jackpine Mine, which it operates on behalf of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project owners: Shell Canada Energy (60 percent), Chevron (20 percent) and Marathon Oil Canada (20 percent). The expansion would increase bitumen production by 100,000 barrels per day to a total 300,000.

“It is important to work through the regulatory process on future growth options to provide the most operational flexibility,” Shell said in a written statement. “Regulatory approval for the Jackpine Mine Expansion will permit access to leases 88 and 89, adjacent to our current Muskeg River and Jackpine mining operations, and allow for the most robust long term planning from both an environmental and economic standpoint.”

The proposal would require the disturbance of nearly 30,000 acres of land and destroy 13 miles of the culturally significant river, according to plaintiffs. Greenhouse gas emissions from the Jackpine expansion would total 2.36 Mt CO2e/year, representing an increase of 5.2 percent in oil sands emissions (based on 2009) or approximately 281,000 cars on the road, they add.

Shell notes that tar sands “have a potentially significant role to play in the energy mix in a world where in the first half of this century, global energy demand could double — driven largely by the world’s emerging economies as a result of population growth and improved standards of living.”

However, the Athabasca communities, constituted of 879 registered members and headquartered in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, have had Shell in court since September 2011 for its alleged failure to meet tar-sands crude-oil extraction agreements with ACFN. The First Nation is governed by a chief, four councilors and a group of elders, under Canada’s Indian Act electoral system.

The case against Shell claims to arise from Shell’s 2003 and 2006 broken promises regarding two open-pit tar-sands mining projects, in which the company did not provide adequate resources for community participation in mitigation discussion, in mapping out traditional areas and studying potential impacts of Shell projects on sacred sites, and in implementing a community monitoring program.

“We have repeatedly tried to engage with both the government and Shell to find a better way to address our rights,” Adam stated when they filed the Joint Review Panel challenge. “However, the government has not listened to us or made meaningful attempts to accommodate the ACFN in relation to the impacts of this and other tar sands projects. They have failed to accurately inform themselves of what our people truly require in order to protect our lands and rights.”

The ACFN is trying to demonstrate the severe adverse impacts of tar-sands crude-oil extraction are undermining its ability to meaningfully exercise Treaty 8 rights within traditional territorial boundaries.

“Our community and our leadership at ACFN are taking the steps to slow down development in Northern Alberta in order to ensure our rights and lands are protected now and into the future,” AFCN communications coordinator Eriel Deranger has observed. “As Denesuline people, it is our responsibility to protect our lands, our rights and all that mother earth provides for our people. We hope people will support us as we put forward ground breaking challenges in Alberta.”

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation territory spans and includes lands within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the Lower Athabasca and North West Saskatchewan planning regions. Members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation have rights that are protected by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

According to an ACFN written statement, “Since time immemorial and long before ACFN entered into treaty, Denesuline Peoples of its region lived and continue to live and sustain themselves, their families and their community from Mother Earth and all that she provides.

“Denesuline Peoples had an intricate relationship with Mother Earth and customary practices allowed them to live in harmony with her as she kept their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being in balance. This relationship included customary practices that entailed the care of Mother Earth along with the ability for economic development and survival: the very essence of Denesoline culture and identity.

“Industrialization of ACFN’s traditional territories has led to the cumulative removal of lands, wildlife and fish habitat as well as the destruction of ecological, aesthetic and sensory systems. This will consequently affect treaty promises, cultural and spiritual renewal, procurement of resources, and Denesuline Peoples’ connection with and use of landscape that is integral to traditional use.

“In truth, the current industrialization occurring in Northeastern Alberta is putting ecosystems, the watersheds that sustain them, and the First Nations who depend upon them, at risk for large-scale impacts that will permanently change the biophysical and socio-cultural landscape of the region. This industrialization has thrust the ACFN to the forefront of the tar sands controversy.

“Canada and Alberta’s elected leaders have been promoting tar sands development on ACFN traditional lands at a pace that appears irresponsible and irreparably destructive. Canada has avoided its duty to properly enforce the Fisheries Act, Navigable Waters Protection Act, Species at Risk Act, Constitution Act and Treaty No. 8.

“Alberta is actively changing its laws to pave the way for devastation of ACFN lands and rights. Throughout a vast tract of ACFN’s traditional territory the ecology is being completely destroyed in order to extract bitumen. Alberta has granted Shell Canada the rights to mine out the land to the boundaries of Poplar Point (Reserve 201G), in the heart of the ACFN homelands.”

(Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.com)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Designation sought for Cheyenne warrior site (3/30)
Lakota Country Times: Efforts to rename sacred peak ramp up (3/30)
Mark Charles: Nation was built on the dehumanization of others (3/30)
Navajo Nation considers agreement for land-buy back program (3/30)
US Attorneys named to lead DOJ Native American subcommittee (3/30)
Kevin Abourezk: Students retrace journey of Chief Standing Bear (3/30)
Patricia Paul: Overcoming hardships and becoming a tribal judge (3/30)
Julianne Jennings: Taking care of our eyesight in Indian Country (3/30)
Chairman Michael Jandreau of Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in hospital (3/30)
Hundreds pay respects to Navajo Nation officer killed on the job (3/30)
Police officer who kicked Native man reinstated in Saskatchewan (3/30)
Native boy with rare disease granted wish to join favorite team (3/30)
Jury rules against Cheyenne River Sioux man in 'KKK' scar case (3/30)
BIA official expected to be released from hospital after stabbing (3/30)
BIA delays ruling on Pamunkey Tribe federal recognition petition (3/30)
Alex White Plume aims to grow hemp on Pine Ridge Reservation (3/30)
Blackfeet Nation opposes energy development on sacred lands (3/30)
Opinion: Don't include Indian Country in BLM fracking regulation (3/30)
Police looking for clues after murder of Indian man and woman (3/30)
Fort Peck Tribes might scale back plans for first gaming facility (3/30)
BIA rejects Menominee Nation off-reservation gaming compact (3/30)
Pokagon Band faces hurdles for a gaming compact with Indiana (3/30)
Nisqually Tribe to open second phase of $45M casino expansion (3/30)
Opinion: Expansion of gaming options not a good idea for Texas (3/30)
Native Sun News: Businesses show support for LNI tournament (3/27)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux fighter climbing in the ranks (3/27)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives look 10,000 years into the future (3/27)
Ivan Star: The influences of boarding school and Vietnam War (3/27)
Gyasi Ross: Funerals become family reunions in Indian Country (3/27)
Tim Giago hands over the reins as publisher of Native Sun News (3/27)
House committee passes Native American Children's Safety Act (3/27)
Bill to benefit Miami Nation moves forward in House and Senate (3/27)
City extended contract to send treated sewage to sacred peaks (3/27)
Oneida Nation welcomes ruling backing land-into-trust request (3/27)
Lawmakers want BIA to delay new federal recognition reforms (3/27)
Another conviction from Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption probe (3/27)
Editorial: Shakopee Tribe contributes $5M for health initiative (3/27)
Opinion: Navajo Nation enacts 'sin tax' on unhealthy products (3/27)
Editorial: Opposition to Pamunkey Tribe recognition 'revolting' (3/27)
Dennis Jenkins: Hypocrisy for new tribal casinos in Connecticut (3/27)
Supreme Court asked to hear Kialegee Tribal Town gaming case (3/27)
Ho-Chunk Nation extends agreement for off-reservation casino (3/27)
Indiana lawmakers seek role in Pokagon Band gaming compact (3/27)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux leader not pleased with boycott (3/26)
Lakota Country Times: Lakota Nation Invitational stays in Rapid (3/26)
Native Sun News: Mayor of Rapid City addresses race relations (3/26)
Jane Daugherty: Tribal e-commerce continues to draw scrutiny (3/26)
Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee's field hearing (3/26)
Richard Iron Cloud: Remove murderer's name from sacred peak (3/26)
Native Youth: Bring dental therapy providers to Indian Country (3/26)
Steven Newcomb: Tribal nations still under dominating process (3/26)
Law firm hosts tribes for session on marijuana in Indian Country (3/26)
Judge upholds BIA decision on Oneida Nation land-into-trust bid (3/26)
Appeals court rules against Crow Tribe in housing grant dispute (3/26)
Ho-Chunk Nation raises minimum wage to $2.75 above federal (3/26)
Mishewal Wappo Tribe to appeal decision in recognition lawsuit (3/26)
Racist emails of former Montana federal judge to be preserved (3/26)
Shingle Springs Band considered but rejected indoor gun range (3/26)
more headlines...


Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.