Yinka Dene Alliance

Backgrounder on the First Nations Anti-Tar Sands Delegation to Ottawa

March 2013

The Alberta tar sands and the infrastructure projects associated with them are under increasing criticism for their adverse environmental and human rights impacts.  Solidarity between First Nations against the tar stands continues to gain momentum with an ever increasing number – East, West and South -- asserting that tar sands and related infrastructure contravene their own Indigenous laws.  Building more pipelines would result in even greater expansion of tar sands production, hastening ongoing destruction of Indigenous lands and cultures and putting everyone’s future at risk through climate change.  First Nations from Eastern and Western Canada and from the United States have signed agreements of mutual support and defence to oppose tar sands projects on their lands and to stop further projects from being built.

Yinka Dene Alliance

The Yinka Dene Alliance is a group of six BC First Nations who have led the opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers project through the creation of the Save the Fraser Declaration, a declaration of Indigenous law banning tar sands pipelines and tankers from their territories. The territories of the Yinka Dene Alliance nations are located near Prince George, BC, adjacent to the proposed Enbridge pipeline route. The six nations are the Nadleh Whut’en, the Nak’adzli, the Saik’uz, the Takla Lake, the Wet’suwet’en and the Tl’azt’en.

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the people of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta have been at the forefront of the discourse on tar sands extraction, shedding light on the “downstream” impacts that tar sands development has on the environment, the people, animals and their inherent rights to sustain their people and culture. The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is currently engaged in challenging proposed tar sands applications in traditional lands through the Canadian courts.

Yankton Sioux Nation (Ihanktowan Dakota Oyate)

The Yankton Sioux Nation (Ihanktowan Dakota Oyate), whose traditional lands lie in South Dakota, actively opposes construction of the Keystone XL TransCanada Pipeline.  The Yankton Sioux Nation recently concluded the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands Projects with its historical enemy, the Pawnee Nation.

Tsleil-Waututh First Nation

The traditional territories of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation include the Vancouver harbor and the terminus of Kinder Morgan’s existing Trans Mountain pipeline.  The Tsleil-Waututh Nation actively opposes Kinder Morgan’s plans to build a second-pipeline parallel to the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which was built in 1953.  The new pipeline would transport bitumen through rural and heavily populated urban areas to a tanker port that would send bitumen through the Salish Sea for export to China, potentially impacting more than 50 First Nations in Canada and the US.

Save the Fraser Declaration

The Save the Fraser Declaration is an Indigenous law declaration banning tar sands pipelines and tankers from crossing the lands and rivers of British Columbia and the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon.  The Declaration has been signed by 160 nations and supporting organizations who have vowed that they will not allow proposed pipelines to be built, because these projects pose too great a threat to their lands and waters.

International Treaty to Protect the Sacred

The International Treaty to Protect the Sacred Against Tar Sands Projects is a treaty of peace and mutual defense concluded on January 23, 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.