Yinka Dene Alliance

Growing Number of First Nations Across North America Gather In Ottawa with Unified Message

March 20, 2013

For Immediate Release

March 20, Ottawa – 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 Indigenous communities.

“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.


For more information, please contact:
Geraldine Thomas Flurer, 250-570-1482