CANADA’S APPROACH TO TRANS MOUNTAIN VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL LAW, WASHINGTON STATE’S LUMMI NATION ASSERTS


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Canada is violating the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and sidestepping international environmental law in its handling of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and a proposed three-berth marine container terminal south of Vancouver, contends the Lummi Nation in northwest Washington state, in a letter this week to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“We’re in a state of emergency,” Lummi Nation Secretary Lawrence Solomon said in the release. “Our qwe’lhol’mechen (orca relations) are dying, our salmon are disappearing, our people are suffering. Our schelangen (way of life) is in peril. We have a Xa xalh Xechnging (sacred obligation) to care for our culture and all our relations.”

“As our ancestors keep telling us, there is hope for the Salish Sea, there is hope for us. But we have to do the work,” added Raynell Morris, director of the Lummi sovereignty and treaty protection office. “Part of the work is our nation talking directly to the United States and to Canada about what we all need to do to save and protect these shared waters.”

The Lummi are “requesting a meeting with Canadian officials regarding the environmental impacts of industrial projects on the Salish Sea off the coasts of Washington and British Columbia,” The Canadian Press reports, maintaining that projects like Trans Mountain “will result in unavoidable, irreversible, and unacceptable harm to the nation’s territorial waters.”

The letter “points to the effect of increased shipping traffic on fishing areas, as well as the dangers of ship strikes, noise pollution, and oil spills for endangered southern resident killer whales,” CP adds. “The letter says so far, Canada has dismissed the Lummi Nation’s concerns with respect to Trans Mountain,” and shows no apparent change of approach with the container terminal plan.

CP notes that Canada officially adopted UNDRIP in 2016, but Conservative senators defeated a bid to harmonize Canadian laws with the principles in the declaration. SOURCE

Tsilhqot’in Nation urges Taseko Mines to stop drilling plans before conflict grows

Nation said Teztan Biny area is of ‘profound cultural and spiritual importance’

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A view of part of Teztan Biny (Fish Lake)

The Tsilhqot’in Nation is calling for a safe and peaceful resolution to prevent Taseko Mines Ltd. from doing exploratory drilling for its proposed New Prosperity Mine west of Williams Lake.

The conflict is the latest confrontation in a long legal battle between the Nation, which has declared title rights in the area and the mining company.

On June 13, Taseko gave two-week notice that it planned to begin its drilling program on Tuesday, July 2 in an area 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake at Teztan Biny (Fish Lake).

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Tsilhqot’in Nation said it wants TML to stand down on the drilling program and not bring machinery and personnel to the site. The nation is also asking the B.C. government to step up and help resolve the issue.

“The Tsilhqo’tin Nation opposes this drilling program as an imminent violation of its human rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” the statement noted.

Teztan Biny is located in traditional Tsilhqot’in territory and includes 300,000 hectares of wilderness and wildlife habitat. It is just outside of the 1,900 square kilometre area in which the TNG won title over in a historic 2014 Supreme Court of Canada ruling, but still within a broader area under land claim. MORE

Romeo Saganash: Final Statement on C262 Not Becoming Law

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NDP MP Romeo Saganash stands during question period in the House of Commons on Sept. 25, 2018.

Final Statement on C262 Not Becoming Law

In 2011, I set myself the task of advancing Indigenous rights, as defined by knowledge keepers and elders, into Canadian politics. I introduced a bill, now known as C-262, in two separate parliaments, under different Prime Ministers, and worked with the hundreds of people elected to represent Canadians. Over the past two parliamentary mandates I have been given, I have worked diligently to promote human rights and Indigenous values not just in bill C- 262 but in every piece of legislation that passed my desk.

After travelling to speak about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with people in community centres, auditoriums, on picnic tables in baseball parks and in art galleries, people from coast to coast to coast have become champions of justice. Millions of people have had a conversation about Indigenous rights, what they mean, and how they will bring us forward into a beautiful new future.

I am devastated and regret that my bill, that so many people have worked so hard to promote and educate on, will not become law.  Nonetheless, I have been inspired and reassured by the broad representation from civil society in the support for this bill: churches, labour unions, human rights organizations, environmental organizations, Indigenous leadership and grassroots that have made it possible to get to the recognition and respect that we see today.

I do know that we have made tremendous advances in human rights by getting this far in the legislative process. It is rare for non-governmental bills to pass through the House of Commons and to get as far in the Senate as it did. This is an indication of how important bill C-262 is, of how much has changed, and of the general willingness of everyone to move towards a new future together. We cannot go back to how things were before. New understandings of human rights and what they mean and who they include means that society is can only get better because of the work that we have done.

The struggle for human rights is a long one; it takes us away from our families and loved ones; we work too many hours, we sacrifice our health and spirit. Yet our ancestors took a path before me, one that is for dignity, justice and a good life.  Others have not only followed the path but imagined new possibilities. I am grateful for the sacrifices they also have made in the belief that Indigenous law, rights, and ways of being will be one day be restored to these territories. I am honoured to follow in their work, and I dedicate any accomplishments I have made to my family.

I want to thank the countless people who have worked so hard with their whole body, heart, mind and spirit because they believe in the values listed in the Declaration. I remain strongly convinced of the potential for the UN Declaration to be the framework for reconciliation; as a set of standards created by Indigenous peoples for Indigenous peoples, and as a reminder to nation-states like Canada, that we are still here, and we not only deserve but we demand the rights that have been denied us for so long.

There are and always have been obvious flaws in a governing system that is designed to maintain a status quo and deny rights to people who power rejects. The process of bringing C262 along the legislative path has highlighted this for me and I believe there are many parts in this struggle and many people lead; its not enough to create legislation that holds the colonial governments accountable to International human rights standards and to Indigenous ways of being; it will take structural and institutional change in order to see justice on stolen lands. Let us rise with more energy. Let us stand with a greater determination. On behalf of the millions who are building resistance and beauty in our communities: our spirit is not broken.

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Trans Mountain approval met with promised resistance by First Nations

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Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday the government has fulfilled its duty to consult Indigenous peoples and will move ahead with the Trans Mountain pipeline despite opposition from several First Nations who say they do not consent to the project.

The Trudeau government has approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and is promising to have shovels in the ground this summer.

But First Nations are responding swiftly with commitments to resist the pipeline in order to protect the land, Indigenous rights, and to address the climate emergency.

The long-awaited decision was announced Tuesday in Ottawa, following months of renewed consultations with Indigenous communities as ordered by the Federal Court of Appeal last August.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau justified the government’s decision on the basis it “has the potential to create thousands of solid middle class jobs for Canadians,” and that expanding the existing Trans Mountain pipeline’s oil sands output remains within the government’s carbon emission targets under the Paris agreement.

On Monday parliament passed a non-binding motion from Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna declaring a climate emergency in Canada.

Trudeau announced Tuesday the government will work with Indigenous stakeholders who have expressed interest in purchasing the pipeline in part or in whole.

He said up to 100 per cent of the pipeline could end up in Indigenous investors’ hands.

But the government’s consultations with First Nations, and its interpretation of free, prior and informed consent — a principle it has vowed to respect to through its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) — fall far short of Indigenous peoples expectations.’

Speaking at a press conference in Vancouver Tuesday, Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN) Chief Leah George-Wilson responded to the government’s decision to approve the pipeline with a promise of renewed litigation in the Federal Court of Appeal.

“We believe that the consultation, once again, missed the mark set by the Supreme Court of Canada — and we will defend our rights,” she said.

“TWN continues to withhold our free, prior and informed consent and are prepared to use all legal tools to ensure our governance rights are respected.”

First Nation leaders in B.C. also predicted a swell of grassroots resistance if the government attempts to begin construction in territories where consent has not been granted. MORE

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Green New Deal tour seeks hope and reconciliation in Canada


David Suzuki and Naomi Klein discussed a Green New Deal for Canada at the Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Photo by Chris Katsarov

The Canadian version [of the Green New Deal] is adding more emphasis on the inclusion of Indigenous practices.

The Green New Deal “must be based on Indigenous knowledge and science and cut Canada’s emissions in half in 11 years,” according to the Council of Canadians, one of many partnering groups.

Pam Palmater, Maria Menezes, and supporters of the Our Time organization listen during the Green New Deal town hall at Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Pam Palmater, Maria Menezes, and supporters of the Our Time organization listen during the Green New Deal town hall at Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Photo by Chris Katsarov

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report last October saying global warming requires “rapid and far-reaching” infrastructure transitions. The UN report, completed by leading climate scientists, warns that without serious action to lower CO2 emissions within 11 years, there will be more catastrophes to come, including floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) has not been implemented in Canada, which defines Indigenous rights and grants free prior informed consent to the policies that affect them, such as climate change and natural resource development.

On June 11, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples passed Bill C-262 to implement UNDRIP in Canada. It is not yet federal law. Conservative senators objected over fears about its potential impact on resource development and have been accused of stalling. If the bill is not made federal law by the end of the month, new legislation will have to be tabled.

The Green New Deal attempts to align the principles of UNDRIP and traditional Indigenous knowledge with scientific inquiry.

Wanda Whitebird, an elder of the Mi’kmaq Nation from Afton, N.S., welcomed the crowd of a few hundred to the inaugural town hall in Toronto.

Large banners calling for 100 per cent renewable energy and the recognition of Indigenous rights were draped from the second floor of the church. From the front pews to the back, attendees chanted for “climate justice.” MORE

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Senate committee passes UNDRIP bill, but not without push-back

 

UNDRIP Bill C-262 finally reaches the Senate committee and Conservative skepticism


NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s UNDRIP bill is inching toward passage. Sen. Murray Sinclair says equating free, prior and informed consent with a veto misses the point (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

If Bill C-262 is to pass before the House rises next month, some Conservative Senators will have to be convinced it won’t create new problems for Canada.

On Tuesday Cree MP Romeo Saganash’s private members’ bill had its first day before the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

If passed, it would require Canada to align its laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which articulates the global minimum human rights standards for Indigenous Peoples.

But the proposed legislation, introduced in the House of Commons by Saganash in 2016, could meet its demise on the order paper if its proponents, and witnesses who will address the committee in the coming days, don’t convince Conservative senators the bill won’t have unintended legal and economic consequences for Canada.

“We all acknowledge that Canadians, I believe, overwhelmingly support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Conservative Senator and committee Deputy Chair Scott Tannas told APTN News Tuesday.  But if [the bill] involves more court cases and economic disruption, they’re not in support of it,” he continued, adding Canadians have “never been asked that question.

“We don’t know if they’re in support of it — but I suspect they’re not. So we need to get clarity around this, and that’s our job here in the Senate.”

UNDRIP(From the left, NDP MP Romeo Saganash, Wilton Littlechild, and Senator Murray Sinclair at the Senate hearings Tuesday. Photo: Justin Brake/APTN)

The committee heard from several witnesses Tuesday, including Saganash himself, and Senator Murray Sinclair, who is the bill’s senate sponsor and, a former judge and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“A lot is being made of the possibility that the U.N. Declaration itself is going to become the law of Canada by virtue of this bill, and that is not the case,” Sinclair said in his opening remarks to the committee Tuesday.

“People need to stop suggesting that, because the only extent to which this bill will have an impact anywhere in that direction is that it will call upon Canada to look at its legislation and to make its legislation consistent with the principles that are set out in the Declaration.” MORE

The road to a made-in-Canada Green New Deal

 


Green New Deal panel in Ottawa at Powershift Young & Rising, February 2019. Photo Credit: Allan Lissner

Popularized by the youth-led Sunrise movement in the United States, and by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Green New Deal is a bold vision for tackling climate change and inequality at the same time.

The concept of a Green New Deal has been around for a while — former MP Megan Leslie called for one during a House of Commons debate back in 2009 — but recently, it’s been gaining momentum in Canada, especially after the Powershift Young and Rising gathering in Ottawa this past February. A youth convergence organized to skill up and build a stronger and more inclusive youth climate justice movement, Powershift made imagining Canada’s Green New Deal the focal point of a series of strategy sessions, workshops, and panels.

Since then, it’s steadily grown. Social movement leaders have laid out the broad strokes for Canada’s Green New Deal: ambitious action to address climate change, a focus on putting justice first by upholding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples, ensuring dignity for all, and creating millions of good jobs.

But bringing this idea to life will mean transformative policy change to completely retool the economy. And, in order for it to truly work for everyone, the vision for a Green New Deal must be built from the ground up.

Who decides what’s in a Green New Deal and what isn’t?

People from all walks of life, and every corner of the country, will be in the front seat when it comes to defining Canada’s Green New Deal.Starting this weekend, thousands of people will gather in community centers, church basements, and living rooms all across Canada to identify the kind of solutions that will allow our communities to thrive.

These town halls — almost 200 of them — will come in all shapes and sizes, and take place in urban and rural communities alike. Each one will help us ground-truth a Green New Deal for Canada from the bottom up. Input collected from town halls will help sharpen our shared vision of a Green New Deal, and we’ll use that vision to push politicians to take ambitious action. MORE

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Young people won’t accept anything less than a justice-centred Green New Deal

Catherine McKenna’s talk about ‘growing the economy while protecting the environment’ doesn’t pass the smell test.

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The rhetoric of Canada’s minister of environment and climate change doesn’t match the Liberal government’s record in office

This past Monday over 60 groups from across Canada — including Our Time, a youth-led campaign I’m organizing with — launched the Pact for a Green New Deal. It’s a call for politicians in Canada to present a climate plan in line with climate science and Indigenous teachings that creates millions of good jobs and addresses inequality.

Tens of thousands of people have already signed on in support, catching the attention of federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. The same day the Pact went live, she published an op-ed about her and her government’s climate record. Reading it, I was struck by inconsistencies between McKenna’s thoughts and my own experience as a young person who has been organizing for climate justice throughout McKenna’s term in office.

One of my first organizing experiences was with a campaign called the People’s Climate Plan in 2016. We were organizing around the federal climate change town halls, doing outreach and providing support for people in our communities to show up and speak up for ambitious climate policy.

McKenna ignored our voices. Instead, she approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, along with other pipeline projects.

One of my first organizing experiences was with a campaign called the People’s Climate Plan in 2016. We were organizing around the federal climate change town halls, doing outreach and providing support for people in our communities to show up and speak up for ambitious climate policy.

McKenna’s pride in her climate record rings hollow when so many, especially frontline communities, have been fighting tooth and nail against the disastrous fossil fuel projects she’s approved.

I spent countless hours that spring and summer talking to people in Halifax and, as a result, Halifax MP Andy Fillmore’s town hall was packed, with 250 people in attendance. The people at that town hall were clear: they wanted climate action in Canada to end fossil fuel expansion, support workers in the transition to a renewable economy, and fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — including the right to free, prior, and informed consent for natural resource projects. And all across the country, the same demands emerged in other towns halls — we even wrote a report about it for McKenna. MORE

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CANADIANS TALK CLIMATE ACTION: #CANCLIMATEACTION TOWN HALLS REPORT

Canada’s Green New Deal calls for a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent in 11 years

You can sign the Pact for a New Green Deal in Canada HERE

Prominent Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki (right) was among those in attendance at a press conference in Vancouver convened for the unveiling of Canada's

Prominent Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki (right) was among those in attendance at a press conference in Vancouver convened for the unveiling of Canada’s “Green New Deal”.350 CANADA

Today (May 6), a long list of Canadian organizations and individuals together unveiled a proposal to reduce emissions in the country by 50 percent by 2030.

“The climate crisis is here,” begins a statement at GreenNewDealCanada.ca. “Arctic permafrost is melting, forests, towns, and Indigenous territories are burning. States of emergency—declared for once-in-a-century floods—are becoming commonplace, and millions around the world already face dislocation and starvation.

“But that’s not the only thing keeping us up at night,” it continues. “Many of us are struggling to find an affordable place to live, or a decent job to support our families. Hate crimes and racism are on the rise. And promise to Indigenous peoples have yet to be implemented.

At today’s press conference, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip emphasized that something needs to be done, because the time that remains to avoid the worst consequences of climate change is quickly running out.

“As Indigenous people, our market place is the land and it’s disappearing rapidly,” he said. “The window is closing at an alarming rate and we need true, genuine leadership.” MORE

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‘Intense sense of emergency’ drives Canadian version of Green New Deal

‘The Wet’suwet’en Need to Lead This. That’s All There Is to It’

NDP MP Romeo Saganash is behind a private member’s bill that aims to clarify the federal government’s role in ensuring Indigenous human rights. The bill has already made it through the House of Commons. If it passes a second reading in the Senate, Bill C-262 will head to a committee, before a final vote in the Senate would make it law. The push is on now because there’s a short window to get the law passed before the fall federal election. Demand action!

Today, Chief Na’Moks briefs the UN on Canada’s Indigenous rights progress. He’s well prepared.

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Chief Na’Moks at the Gidumt’en checkpoint, December 2018. Photo by Michael Toledano.

Three years ago, Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Na’Moks stood in full regalia before the United Nations in New York City. He propped his cellphone in front of him, took a deep breath and began to speak.

“They thought I was reading a speech. I was looking at a picture of that mountain,” he says, gesturing toward Hudson Bay Mountain, the glaciated peak that presides over Wet’suwet’en territory in northwest British Columbia. “That’s all I had in front of me. You’ve got to speak from the heart.”

It was May 2016, the day after Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced that Canada would remove its objector status to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which had been accepted nearly a decade earlier by the UN General Assembly.

Na’Moks, whose English name is John Ridsdale, was there to make a promise to the UN: That he would return one year later to provide a full report on Canada’s progress implementing the declaration.

Today, Na’Moks addresses the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, his second update to the UN since that first visit.

Again, he’ll prop his phone before him, but this time he’ll be reading from notes. It’s important he stick to the talking points — in particular, those addressing Article 10 of UNDRIP, the section that deals with forcible removal of Indigenous peoples from their lands.

“Nothing’s really changed from the time that they accepted it,” he says about Canada’s promise to implement UNDRIP. “They’ve really not done anything.”

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Heavily armed RCMP officers arrived Monday to shut down Indigenous checkpoints blocking a natural gas pipeline. Photo by Michael Toledano.

Na’Moks, the highest-ranking chief of the Tsayu clan, stood and watched with chiefs of three other Wet’suwet’en clans on Jan. 7 as RCMP carrying automatic weapons forcefully removed a checkpoint put in place by the Gidumt’en clan to prevent Coastal GasLink pipeline workers from accessing the territory. MORE

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