Yinka Dene Alliance

Yinka Dene Complains to United Nations about Canadian government conduct on Enbridge

February 24, 2012

February 24, 2012

RELEASE: Enbridge complaint to United Nations: First Nations file complaint that Harper government racism on pipelines violates international law

First Nations ask for pre-emptive measures by U.N. body to warn Canada against violating their rights by approving proposed Enbridge pipelines and tankers.

GENEVA, Switzerland – The Yinka Dene Alliance has filed a complaint and sent a representative to the United Nations in Geneva about the Harper government’s stated intention to push through the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines and tankers project, in violation of First Nations’ constitutionally-protected rights.

Anne-Marie Sam, from Nak’azdli First Nation, a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance, has travelled to Geneva to speak about the complaint to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is considering Canada’s human rights record this week.

“The government has said repeatedly that they are planning to push Enbridge through despite the fact that our nations have said no, which is a clear violation of our rights under international law,” said Ms. Sam. “We’re asking the United Nations to send a message to Canada that such an action is unacceptable under the law of nations. The Harper government is ignoring us so we have no option but to escalate this issue to the global community.”

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Canada signed, bans discrimination against Indigenous peoples. The Yinka Dene complaint sets out that the Harper government has singled out First Nations and plans to breach their rights in a discriminatory way, in violation of the Convention.

“The Harper government has secret memos that call First Nations who oppose these developments ‘adversaries’. What other racial group gets dismissed like that?” asked Chief Jackie Thomas of Saik’uz First Nation. “That’s racism pure and simple, and the government has an obligation not to treat us that way under Canadian and International law. We’ve faced government racism against our people for generations and now the government is threatening us with oil spills that could doom us as a people. We are asking the United Nations to call Canada onto the carpet for its discrimination against us.”

The complaint is filed under the Early Warning Measures and Urgent Procedures which allows complaints about a country’s proposed actions before they escalate into a violation of the Convention. The U.N. Committee can open an investigation of the government’s plans and has the power to make a finding that Canada has violated or is likely to violate its legal obligations under the Convention.

The Yinka Dene Alliance includes Nadleh Whut'en, Nak'azdli, Takla Lake, Saik'uz, and Wet'suwet'en First Nations in northern BC who have banned the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines from their territories.

Copy of Yinka Dene Alliance’s early warning complaint: link

Backgrounder: link

Photo of Anne Sam (right), Nak'azdli First Nation, and Chief Marilyn Baptiste (left), Xeni Gwet'in First Nation (and executive member of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs) in front of the UN building in Geneva.

For more information:

Anne Sam, Nak’azdli First Nation, arrange Geneva interview up to Friday 2pm Pacific by calling Geraldine Thomas-Flurer at 250-570-1482

Chief Jackie Thomas, Saik’uz First Nation, 250-567-8048