Chiefs from 133 first nations join fight against kinder morgan pipeline and oilsands expansion national observer gas prices going up in nj

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“The Chiefs of Ontario agree to the immediacy of building a more sustainable future so our children do not have to rely or be exposed to fossil fuels which pollute and destroy the earth, air, and waters,” Day wrote in the letter, obtained by National Observer.

The oilsands, deposits of a tar-like heavy oil mixed with clay beneath the boreal forest in Alberta and Saskatchewan, represent the third largest reserve of crude oil in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. But oilsands extraction is costly and energy-intensive, and oil producers in the region have struggled to compete in international markets.

The industry has said that new pipelines such as the Trans Mountain expansion would help support jobs and growth, opening up access to markets such as Asia. The federal and Alberta governments have said that the pipeline would be part of a transition plan needed to allow Canada to meet its climate change goals.

The Treaty Alliance is calling for a ban on pipeline projects including Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain, TransCanada’s Keystone XL and Enbridge’s Line 3. Grand Chief Sheila North of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak listens at a press conference held by the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion on May 2, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault

“The allied signatory Indigenous Nations aim to prevent a pipeline, train (or) tanker spill from poisoning their water and to stop the Tar Sands from increasing its output and becoming an even bigger obstacle to solving the climate crisis," reads the letter.

"What’s really at play here is we have a government that’s deciding for itself when we come into play — and that’s not right, that’s what we need to denounce,” said Picard, at a Treaty Alliance press conference on the sidelines of the assembly on May 2.

At the press conference, members of the treaty alliance joined calls for an independent inquiry into revelations from government whistleblowers uncovered by a National Observer investigation that the Kinder Morgan approval process was “rigged.”

"We need to know — we deserve to know — what was the process behind closed doors that the Trudeau government used? Was this process cooked from the beginning? Was it rigged?" Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr speaks to National Observer during an interview in his Parliament Hill office on April 19, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault Pipeline approval made ‘in Cabinet, by Cabinet’

The Trans Mountain expansion would triple the current volume of fuel shipped on the existing system, to up to 890,000 barrels of heavy oil a day. This would increase oil tanker traffic off the coast of Burnaby, in Metro Vancouver, in the unceded territory of the Tsleil-Waututh and other nations.

"The decision to approve the (Trans Mountain expansion) project was made in Cabinet, by Cabinet, and only after extensive and unprecedented consultations with Indigenous people, a key pillar of our interim approach," said spokesman Alexandre Deslongchamps in an email.

He noted that a ministerial panel heard from hundreds of Canadians at dozens of public meetings and received thousands of responses, "the most exhaustive review of any pipeline in Canadian history." Many Indigenous communities continue to be involved through an Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee, he added.

"Through our review of the Trans Mountain Expansion, we added additional time and steps to the review process to make it more rigorous. We extended consultation to ensure we were meeting and exceeding our duty to consult Indigenous peoples," he said. Squamish Nation councillor Khelsilem speaks at a press conference held by the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion on May 2, 2018. He said ‘we’re seeing the beginning of what will become the largest civil disobedience in Canadian history.’ Photo by Alex Tétreault ‘The largest civil disobedience in Canadian history’

Picard and Khelsilem were joined at the Treaty Alliance press conference by Grand Chief Sheila North of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Chief Judy Wilson of Neskonlith Indian Band, Chief Bob Chamberlin of Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation, and other leaders in opposing the pipelines and calling for an inquiry into whistleblower revelations.

“I do believe that the people that live off the land and come from the land should have a veto on rights to the resources where they come from,” said North. Grand Chief Sheila North of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak speaks to reporters in Gatineau, Quebec on May 2, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Wilson’s band is part of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. Another member of the council, Simpcw First Nation, recently reiterated its support for the Trans Mountain expansion. But Wilson said Kinder Morgan “have not had the consent of our proper title and rights.”

The proper title holders, she said, are “the people.” She said she joined in the blockade of Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby, B.C. terminal on April 7. Hundreds of people, including federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, have been arrested protesting the pipeline.

Asked how far she would go herself to stop the pipeline, Wilson talked about protesters getting arrested and imprisoned. "Are they going to put everybody in jail?” she wondered. “If they put us in jail, there will be many, many others coming behind us.”

"I think we’re seeing the beginning of what will become the largest civil disobedience in Canadian history,” Khelsilem agreed. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the Assembly of First Nations special meeting of chiefs in Gatineau, Quebec on May 2, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault ‘We have advanced a new chapter together’

In a speech to the assembly on May 2, Trudeau argued his government has made progress on reconciliation, and urged those gathered that he has tried to focus on reforms that will survive over the long term, whether or not he continues to be prime minister.

Trudeau announced in February he was launching nationwide consultations on new legislation to recognize Indigenous rights, that would "breathe new life" into Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution, which enshrines the rights and title of Aboriginal peoples. His government also split the former Indigenous affairs department in two, a step it said took it closer to ending the "colonial, paternalistic" Indian Act.

"As your communities and nations develop your paths, we will be there alongside you," Trudeau said to the assembly about these new consultations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the Assembly of First Nations on May 2, 2018. Trudeau said he understood the "underlying impatience" of wanting to secure advances in reconciliation. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Asked if he could promise the Indigenous languages bill would become law before the next election, Trudeau made a quip about “faith” in his re-election chances — drawing a laugh from the audience — before noting the "fundamental importance" of the bill.

"The best way to demonstrate that this is the path forward — independent of whichever political party forms government in a year and a half and continue to govern this country — (is) demonstrating the success that we have already achieved,” he said.