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

 

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