Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Tar Sands

Updates and info on ACFN's case against Shell Oil

Archive for the category “pipelines”

For Immediate Release: First Nation and Metis groups denied effective access to justice

First Nation and Metis groups denied effective access to justice

November 26, 2012 Fort McMurray, AB – Today the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) received a decision from the Alberta Court of appeal dismissing their application for leave to appeal a decision of the Joint Review Panel to not review the adequacy of Crown consultation before deciding whether to approve Shell’s Jackpine Mine expansion project.  The First Nation is extremely disappointed and is currently reviewing their options to address the lack of adequate consultation with respect to Shell’s tar sands project.

“Our rights are being overlooked and that is a truth that cannot be denied,” stated Chief Allan Adam of the ACFN.  “If there is a violation of our constitutionally protected treaty rights it should be dealt with before this project is found to be in the public interest.  A project of this magnitude couldn’t possibly be in the public interest if our rights have not been upheld and we have not been adequately consulted.”

During the course of the last month the ACFN have been raising multiple concerns within the Joint Review Panel hearings on Shell’s Jackpine Mine expansion citing poor consultation and direct and adverse effects on the First Nations’ ability to continue its treaty and associated aboriginal rights to hunt, fish, trap and gather.  The decision today stressed that the hearings were a part of the consultation process yet the Alberta government has been absent and even referred to themselves as “strangers” to the process.

“Who has better jurisdiction to deal with our rights and the adequacy of consultation more appropriately then the bodies that grant approval? Our rights are shuffled from agency to agency with no real remedy,” stated Chief Adam.  “There has been a complete devolution of the Crown’s duty to consult pushing consultation into the hands of the proponents and downgrading First Nation rights. Our people are being failed by all levels of government.”

ACFN’s challenge to Shell’s application has come on the heels of a legal suit against the oil giant for failure to meet past agreements to mitigate impacts of their current projects.  Remediation and mitigation are supposed to be dealt with through Impact Benefit Agreements made with the proponents themselves, although such agreement do not have any Crown oversight or involvement.  As Shell has not lived up to past agreements, ACFN was asking the Joint Review Panel to assess Crown consultation before project approval.

The ACFN hopes this ruling will at the very least push the Crown to reassess its role and obligations with respect to the duty to consult, a role they have been absent from, and a role that the Alberta Court of Appeal says the Crown has committed to undertake.

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For More information please contact:
Eriel Deranger, ACFN Communications Coordinator 780-903-6598
Chief Allan Adam, ACFN 780-713-1220

ACFN lawyers make impacting statements at Jackpine Mine constitutional hearings

I am sitting in a room in Fort McMurray listening to our lawyers argue about the need to protect our constitutionally protected rights to fish, hunt, and trap – rights that are being threatened by the expansion of the tar sands and specifically the Shell Jackpine Mine. We have been here before – in courtrooms, government offices, and the boardroom of Shell Canada – trying to protect our traditional way of life and the spirit of our community. But this time it is different because we are not alone. Today over 50 conservation and social justice groups along with many First Nations have come out in support of our efforts. Over 50,000 people have voiced their opposition to the Shell mine and as I write this there is a bus full of supporters making their way from Edmonton to join us. Facebook is littered with postings expressing support for the ACFN. We are honoured.

The oil companies have more money then we can ever dream of. They can out spend us at every turn, make more ads, and pay more experts. But we have the passion of our people, our culture, our Treaty, the Canadian Constitution, and the truth on our side. And with the outpouring of support that is coming in from all corners of Canada and the US, we will confront Big Oil and protect our land and our rights. We are not alone.

Mahsi Cho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation files constitutional challenge to Shell Oil Canada’s Tar Sands expansion application

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation files constitutional challenge to Shell Oil Canada’s Tar Sands expansion application

Fort McMurray, AB October 1, 2012 – Today the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation filed a constitutional challenge in the Joint Review process against Shell Oil Canada’s application for the expansion of their Jackpine Mine tar sands project. ACFN’s challenge outlines the government’s failure to uphold Treaty 8, and to force better protection of the resources needed to sustain rights protected under Treaty 8.  A constitutional challenge based on Treaty 8 rights has never been fully argued in front of an Alberta Joint Review panel and the first nation hopes to set new precedents that may mean changes to the regulatory process.

“We have repeatedly tried to engage with both the government and Shell to find better way to address our rights,” stated Chief Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. “However, the government has not listened to us or made meaningful attempts to accommodate the ACFN in relation to the impacts of this and other tar sands projects.  They have failed to accurately inform themselves of what our people truly require in order to protect our lands and rights.”

The Jackpine Mine expansion application is scheduled to appear before the Joint Review Panel starting Oct. 29 in Fort McMurray, Alberta. However, the Panel is required to hear constitutional challenges on October 23rd before the full public hearings.  The proposed application would require the disturbance of 12,719 ha of land  and destroy 21 kilometres of the Muskeg River, a culturally significant river.  Greenhouse gas emissions from the Jackpine expansion will total 2.36 Mt CO2e/year, representing an increase of 5.2% in oil sands emissions (based on 2009) or approximately 281,000 cars on the road.

The ACFN is hoping this constitutional challenge will clearly demonstrate the severe adverse impacts on their Treaty 8 rights due to tar sands development in northern Alberta. The ACFN asserts that government action is leading to the removal of ACFN’s ability to meaningfully exercise their Treaty 8 rights within their traditional territory.

“Our community and our leadership at ACFN are taking the steps to slow down development in Northern Alberta in order to ensure our rights and lands are protected now and into the future,” stated Eriel Deranger communications coordinator for the ACFN.  “As Denesuline people, it is our responsibility to protect our lands, our rights and all that mother earth provides for our people. We hope people will support us as we put forward ground breaking challenges in Alberta.”

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For More Information:
Chief Allan Adam, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation 780-713-1220
Eriel Deranger, Communication Coordinator ACFN 780-903-6598

****IF YOU WANT TO GET INVOLVED TODAY IS YOUR LAST DAY TO SUBMIT COMMENTS ON THE JACKPINE MINE EXPANSION VISIT www.stopshellnow.com AND SIGN UP AND SPEAK UP! ******

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: First Nation preparing for Shell’s Jackpine Mine Expansion Environmental Hearings

First Nation preparing for Shell’s Jackpine Mine Expansion Environmental Hearings

August 27, 2012 Fort McMurray, AB – For over a year the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) has been preparing for the Joint Review Panel hearings to challenge Shell Oil Canada’s proposed Jackpine Mine expansion and the Pierre River open pit mine tar sands projects.  Last week, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency announced the first hearing dates for the Jackpine Mine Expansion project starting October 29th in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Chief and Council of the ACFN made clear commitments to protect the treaty rights of their people and the first nation feels the proposed Shell Oil projects are in breach of Treaty 8 rights leading to degradation of critical hunting, trapping, fishing lands and waterways in the region.  Shell and the ACFN have been at odds with each other since last November when the first nation filed suit against the company citing breaches of past agreements and over $1.5 mil in losses for the first nation and impacts on treaty rights.  Now the first nation has full intentions of challenging both applications at the hearings citing massive impacts on treaty rights, land and waterways.

“We are rightfully concerned about how Shell’s proposed Jackpine Mine Expansion Project will impact and infringe our rights. Our lands and way of life are supposed to be protected by Treaty and Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act,” stated Chief Allan Adam of ACFN.  “It’s clear Shell’s current application does not include enough information for the JRP to appropriately assess potential impacts on our rights and it’s time both government and industry to ensure our rights are protected now and into the future.”

The ACFN assert that participation in the hearing process is critical and is a chance for the people to influence the government and industry to create stronger protections for the land, the environment and the people. We hope the JRP will respect our unique rights and implement our recommendations and not let Shell slide through the approval process without addressing our concerns,” stated ACFN Councillor Anthony Ladouceur. “We will no longer stand on the side lines as Shell permanently destroys our lands, our rivers, our rights and our community.”

The ACFN communications coordinator, Eriel Deranger, stated “We hope more people will support the community by ‘signing up’ as interested parties and voice their support for the first nation and their own concerns surrounding Shell’s applications.”  People can do so by emailing Shell.Reviews@ceaa-acee.gc.ca before October 1, 2012. Becoming an interested party allows you to be notified of changes, hearing dates and location and when you can submit your own written/oral statements to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Joint Review Panel.

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For More information contact:

Eriel Deranger, ACFN Communications Coordinator 780-903-6598
Chief Allan Adam, 780-713-1220

 

Photo From Healing Walk 2012

Here is a photo from yesterday’s walk courtesy of Kelsey Chapman.

20120805-142054.jpg

It was a great walk and the feast following was amazing :)

Thanks to everyone who came and made the event a success. We are building community and building strength.

Mashi!

Tar Sands Healing Walk Press Release

More Than 250 First Nations and Allies From Across North America Gather In Alberta To Raise Awareness

First Nations delegations from British Columbia and Ontario show growing concern and resolve against tar sands infrastructure projects across Canada.

FORT MCMURRAY ALBERTA (August 4, 2012) – Hundreds of First Nations leaders from BC, Alberta, the NWT and Ontario along with First Nation actress Tantoo Cardinal and allies from across North America, gathered in Fort McMurray today, to walk 13-kilometres through the visceral landscape of tar sands operations to bring attention to the destructive impacts of tar sands projects and pipelines on surrounding communities and the environment.

First Nation representatives from the Heiltsuk (BC), Yinka Dene (BC), Coastal First Nations (BC), the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Six Nations (Ontario) and Aamijiwnaang (Ontario) joined with local First Nations leaders in a traditional mixing of the waters ceremony, bringing water from their respective territories as a symbol of importance of the protection of water and the sacred connection to mother earth.

Local elders led the group in prayers along the route that was once valuable northern Boreal forest and fertile traditional hunting, fishing and gathering grounds, stopping in the four directions to lay down tobacco as an offering for healing of the land.

“We have come from all over North America to walk together through the heart of the destruction caused by the ever-expanding tar sands and offer prayers for the healing of the land and its people,” said Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus. “For more than 500 years governments have fought over our lands and resources. It’s time the provincial and federal governments sit down with the First Nations, the rightful owners of these lands and resources, to decide if and when these lands should be developed.”

The third annual healing walk was organized by Keepers of the Athabasca, a network of First Nation, Metis and allied communities along the Athabasca River that includes people whose lives have been directly impacted by tar sands operations.

“The places where we used to pick berries and find our medicines have been destroyed by rapid tar sands projects,” said Anthony Ladouceur, Councillor of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. “Our people have lived here for thousands of years, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue to live off the land with industry expanding all around us.”

The Alberta tar sands currently produce approximately 1.8 million barrels of oil per day; if industry and government’s expansion plans are approved that number could reach six million barrels per day. Local opposition to Shell’s two proposed open pit mine applications is growing, along with North American-wide resistance to pipeline proposals. Four pipelines are being proposed to transport tar sands oil: Enbridge Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain, Trans Canada Keystone XL, and Enbridge Line 9 reversal.

“I am deeply honoured to have the opportunity to participate in the 3rd Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “This sacred walk serves to remind us that we, as parents and grandparents, have the unconditional responsibility to safeguard and pass on the legacy of respecting and caretaking Mother Earth, entrusted to us by our ancestors, to our children and grandchildren.”

“This walk creates strength and unity among the people who have to live with the destructive impacts of tar sands. Together, we are more empowered to ensure a clean and healthy world for future generations,” said Roland Woodward Chair of the Keepers of the Athabasca.

The walk was not a protest, but a spiritual gathering to offer prayers for the healing of Mother Earth and all those negatively impacted by tar sands projects and associated infrastructure. Participants walked along Highway 63 past Suncor and Syncrude’s operations to help heal what has been destroyed and to give each other the spiritual strength to carry on.

To Arrange Media Interviews :

Eriel Deranger 780-903-6598
Melina Laboucan-Massimo 780-504-5567

Roland Woodward, Keepers of the Athabasca, 780-972-1339
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, 250-490-5314
Chief Bill Erasmus, Dene Nation 613-859-5063
Anthony Ladouceur, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation 780-881-5115

HEALING WALK MEDIA ADVISORY

Media Advisory

Hundreds to participate in third annual Tar Sands Healing Walk

For Immediate Release

1 August 2012 (Edmonton, AB) – Hundreds of First Nations leaders and allies from across North America will gather in Fort McMurray to walk 13 kilometres through the heart of Alberta’s tar sands operations as part of the third annual healing walk. The walk will begin with a traditional water ceremony where water brought from various communities is mixed together followed by speakers from tar sands and pipeline impacted communities. During the walk itself local Elders will lead prayers along the route in the four directions offering prayers for the healing of Mother Earth and all those negatively impacted by tar sands projects. The walk will take approximately 4 hours and be followed by a feast at the Anzac community Hall.

Who – First Nations, Metis, settlers, and allies from across Canada and the United States
What – Third annual healing week
When – Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 10 am
Where – Crane Lake Park off Highway 63 – 20 km North of Fort McMurray

For more information, please contact:

Eriel Deranger – 780 903 6598
Melina Laboucan-Massimo – 780 504 5567

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation present grievances to Shell Chairman, board and shareholders

For immediate Release

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation present grievances to Shell Chairman, board and shareholders

May 22, 2012/The Hague, Netherlands – Today, Eriel Deranger, spokesperson and member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) addressed Shell executives and shareholders at Shell’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the Hague, Netherlands highlighting the communities grievances with Shell’s current and proposed tar sands projects in their traditional territory in northern Alberta.

Shell’s Chairman was provided with a copy of the report “Risking Ruin: Shell’s dangerous developments in the Tar Sands, Arctic and Nigeria” launced last week by ACFN in partnership with the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN).  The report profiles Indigenous communities impacted by Shell’s operations in Canada’s Alberta Tar Sands, Alaska’s Arctic Ocean, Ontario’s Aamjiwnaang First Nation and Africa’s Niger Delta arguing that the impacts of Shell’s destructive activities outweigh the benefits and exposes the company to both reputational damage and political risk, including litigation.

ACFN traveled with an Indigenous delegation from Canada and Alaska, coordinated by the UK Tar Sands Network and IEN, to attend Shell’s AGM. Indigenous representative presented to Shell’s Chairman and Board about the human and ecological rights violations the company’s operations have brought to their respective communities.  

“Shell has failed to address our concerns in Canada’s tar sands by not meeting environmental standards, past agreements and refusing to address their impacts to our constitutionally protected treaty rights,” stated Deranger. “Shell’s current projects are contributing to the destruction of our traditional territory including vital watersheds and eco-systems.  Now they propose to expand projects further degrading our lands and impairing our ability to practice our constitutionally protected rights to hunt, fish, trap and gather in the region.”

Shell executives refused to address the concerns brought forward by Deranger, stating that ACFN is nothing more then anomaly among First Nation communities in Alberta’s tar sands.  Shell has been operating in Alberta’s tar sands since 2003 and now accounts for approximately 20% of overall operations in the region.  ACFN has numerous grievances with the oil giant with disputes arising around permits, leases, applications, and unmet agreements.  ACFN made headlines last year suing the oil giant for failure to meet past agreements regarding existing tar sands projects within ACFN traditional territory.

Shell’s plans to expand current projects include a new open pit tar sands mine in previously untouched regions of Athabasca Delta, more then doubling their production producing over 600,000 bpd. Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation stated, “I sincerely hope that Shell executives and shareholders listen to our spokesperson. Our community is drawing the line because we’ve had enough.  We have full intention of opposing all of Shell’s future tar sands projects in the region until our past grievances are met and there is full protection of our watersheds, eco-systems and our treaty rights in the region.”

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Media Contacts:

Chief Allan Adam in Canada 780-713-1220

Eriel Deranger in the Netherlands  +31 644941380

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation representative join Indigenous Peoples from Canada, Alaska and Nigeria in the UK to criticize Shell for environmental destruction and human rights abuses

PDF VERSION AVAILABLE HERE – PR Shell Report & AGM

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation representative join Indigenous Peoples from Canada, Alaska and Nigeria in the UK to criticize Shell for environmental destruction and human rights abuses

Report to be launched in London on Friday at public meeting before delegation travels to The Hague for AGM next week

London, UK – This Friday 18th May the Indigenous Environmental Network in partnership with Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation are launching an Indigenous-led campaign and report against Shell and its harmful projects. A delegation of four Indigenous people from North America will participate in the public launch of a report profiling the British-Dutch company’s increasing involvement in the world’s dirtiest and riskiest energy projects. The groups are working in solidarity with Indigenous communities in Nigeria to stop Shell’s plans to expand tar sands oil, Arctic drilling and refinery operations on Indigenous lands across North America.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation made headlines in 2011 by filing suit suing the oil giant for failure to meet past agreements made between Shell and the First Nation regarding existing tar sands projects within ACFN traditional territory and Canada’s pristine Athabasca watershed. Now, the First Nation is aggressively opposing Shell’s future tar sands projects in their traditional territory in Northern Alberta including a proposed project in the pristine wilderness of the Pierre River, a previously untouched area.

The new report being launched in London, entitled “Risking Ruin: Shell’s dangerous developments in the Tar Sands, Arctic and Nigeria” profiles Indigenous communities impacted by Shell’s operations in Canada’s Alberta Tar Sands, Alaska’s Arctic Ocean, Ontario’s Aamjiwnaang First Nation and Africa’s Niger Delta. It argues that the impacts of Shell’s destructive activities outweigh the benefits and expose the company to both reputational damage and political risk, including litigation.

Eriel Deranger, a community member and appointed spokesperson for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in the UK and the Hague, stated, “This new report highlights the dangers our community could face if we don’t protect our rights and land.  We don’t want our community to become the next Niger Delta—where Shell’s unregulated actions have left communities devastated and resulted in the need for a 30-year clean-up estimated to cost $1 billion USD.”

Eriel Deranger will continue traveling with the delegation to attend Shell’s Annual General Meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, on 22nd May 2012, where they will present to the Chairman and Board about the human and ecological rights violations the company’s operations have brought to the community. Other UK activist groups, including UK Tar Sands Network and London Rising Tide will be in attendance at the AGM to protest the oil giant both in Hague and London, UK via satellite AGM in the Barbican Centre.

Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation stated, “As a Chief I must often remain in my community and I regret that I could not attend the report launch and the AGM however, ACFN are drawing the line and we will continue to take a strong stance against Shell’s proposed projects. We want no further development in our territory without our consent until Shell is brought to justice and our broader concerns about the cumulative impacts of tar sands in the region are addressed.”

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Media Contacts:

Chief Allan Adam 780-713-1220

Eriel Deranger in the United Kingdom +44 (0)7831484133

Full Report Here Risking Ruin – Shell’s dangerous developments in the Tar Sands, Arctic and Nigeria

Check out Chief Adam’s Op-Ed: Pipelines

Check out Chief Adam’s Op-Ed: Pipelines Threaten a way of Life #tarsands #pipeline #enbridge #shell http://ow.ly/aMDqI

Op Ed: Pipeline threatens a way of life

By Allan Adam, Edmonton Journal May 5, 2012

In January the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation signed the Save the Fraser Declaration offering support to the Yinka Dene Alliance and those opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines. Alliance representatives are now travelling on the Freedom Train tour from northern B.C. to Toronto for Enbridge’s annual general meeting May 9 to enforce their legal refusal of the projects. We at the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation understand what is at stake for them, as our homelands are at the centre of the oilsands developments that are fuelling this controversy.

From a First Nations perspective, it doesn’t matter whether we stand on the coast of B.C. or in the heart of the oilsands – our struggle is largely one and the same. We don’t want our lands, our rights, or our people to be sidelined and destroyed by irresponsible development.

As Denesuline People, we have an intricate relationship with Mother Earth that keeps our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being in balance. This sacred connection is shared by our brothers and sisters in B.C. and is the very reason we support the opposition to the Gateway pipeline. We intimately understand their struggle to protect environmental values – values not only significant to First Nations peoples, but at the heart of what it used to mean to be Canadian.

Throughout a vast tract of our traditional lands, the land, air and waters upon which our people depend for our culture and livelihood are being devastated to extract the very bitumen that would be shipped through pipelines to the West Coast. In Alberta, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is challenging two oilsands proposals by Shell Oil – an expansion of the existing Jackpine Mine and the new Pierre River open pit mine.

The Pierre Rive Mine is proposed in a pristine region of the Peace-Athabasca Delta and would adversely impact critical habitat for species at risk, traditional lands and the ecology of the fragile and globally significant Delta that our people rely on. Both projects would be developed with adjacent wet tailings and require additional withdrawals from the Athabasca River – a sacred lifeline for our community.

Shell’s proposed projects would more than double their production. The proposed Enbridge pipelines would cross 1,000 rivers, three major salmon-bearing rivers and unceded territories of many First Nations. A spill would devastate the lives and economies of these communities and the fragile rivers and ecosystems they rely on.

What is more, despite assurances by Canada and Alberta that our environmental regulations are among the strongest in the world, both governments are taking steps to reduce environmental regulation to accelerate the pace of development. In recent years, Canada has shirked its duty to properly enforce the Fisheries Act, Navigable Waters Protection Act, Species at Risk Act, and the constitutionally protected provisions of treaties 6 and 8. Now, the federal government has proposed significant changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Fisheries Act, both designed to streamline and reduce regulatory approvals processes for oilsands projects including pipelines.

Approval of the Enbridge pipeline would threaten B.C.’s $1-billion ecotourism and fishing economy and enable further expansion of oilsands development in our traditional lands, pushing us beyond the tipping point of what our lands and way of life can sustain. However, if First Nations in B.C. are successful in asserting their rights in the face of this unwelcome development, then we may share in their strength in meeting the challenges we face here in northern Alberta.

It is clear to us the Enbridge pipeline and oilsands expansion are linked at the source, and they all weigh heavily on our common future. It is our people – not those making the decisions in Ottawa, Calgary and elsewhere – who endure the constant concern of contamination, loss of livelihood and diminishing water quality. And yet, our concerns and the impacts to our people go largely unrecognized, unaccounted for and unaddressed as project after project receives approval and corporations continue to profit at the expense of our culture and way of life.

Allan Adam is chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

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