National Post Article: First Nations shut out of Jackpine oil sands hearing

I really thought this was worth sharing as it really puts a lens on what we are up against and why we need the support of the public behind us as we bring forward our challenge of another tar sands project.

First Nations shut out of Jackpine oil sands hearing

Kristen E. Courtney, Special to Financial Post | Oct 26, 2012

“A government review panel has denied dozens of First Nations people who live downstream from Shell Canada Ltd.’s Jackpine oil sands mine in Alberta the right to participate in environmental assessment hearings for the mine’s expansion, apparently due to problems with their applications.

At the same time, the panel overlooked the same problem in the application of the Canadian unit of a large French oil company and granted it standing to appear. Among those who were denied standing was Bill Erasmus, Dene National chief and Assembly of First Nations regional chief.




Update on Shell Jackpine Mine Constitutional Hearings

This past week has had it’s ups and downs.  I just want to take this moment to thank everyone who has stood with ACFN through this process and we hope to continue this momentum as we move forward with next steps.

On Tuesday October 23 our lawyers presented arguements to the ERCB clarifying our position and why our questions of constitutional law should be heard and decided by the Panel.  The day was supported by upwards of 50 people in Fort McMurray who wore their “I stand with ACFN” t-shirts & scarves as well as a full page ad in Fort McMurray today that relayed the support of more the 50 human rights, conservation and first nation groups to ACFN challenge.

We held a noon press event with support from Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Grand Chief Bill Erasmus of Dene Nation, Clayton Thomas-Muller and Heather Milton Lightening of the Indigenous Environmental Network, Crystal Lameman of Beaver Lake Cree Nation and a bus of supporter from Sierra Club Prairie and Edmonton area who made the trek to Fort McMurray to stand in solidarity with ACFN.  As we made our statements about the importance of the hearings, our challenge and our Treaty rights all echoed by Maude Barlow, Bill Erasmus and Crystal Lameman the ERCB was quickly wrapping up the hearings inside.  The hearings closed with the ERCB announcing that a decision to hear our questions of constitutional law would not be made until the end of the week.  I, along with many other, thought this strange considering the full public hearings are scheduled to start on Monday morning which would give little time to hear our questions. However, we bit the bullet and began the sit and wait game for a decision.

By the afternoon participants from Edmonton wanted to make the best of the day so they took to the street and walked down Franklin Avenue to the Fort McMurray Shell station to raise a sign that read “I Stand with ACFN” and hand out info pamphlets about ACFN’s challenge and Shell’s proposed projects.  The group was very surprised by the supportive honks and the willingness of public engagement they received from people throughout the day.  This type of action was mimicked in BC with similar actions of support.  All this has come as a bit of a surprise from ACFN however we welcome the peaceful actions these groups have taken.

At the end of the evening we had a great speaking event that kicked off Maude Barlow of Council of Canadian’s No Pipeline & Tankers tour.  Maude, Chief Allan Adam of ACFN and Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network really brought the struggles across North America to light and gave empowerment to the people to continue our resistance and strength.

By the end of the week we were all anxious to hear the news from ERCB about a decision to hear our challenge.  The news was grim but not that surprising.  The ERCB released a statement reading “ (the ERCB) ruled that it does not have the jurisdiction to consider the constitutional questions raised by Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation…” News reports title “Jackpine review panel won’t rule on First Nations challenge” began littering the news world and leaving ACFN no other option to begin exploring other options to continue to bring forward our challenge and will likely up with us in the courts.

“Our lawyers are reviewing the document to to determine our recourse, but we have always been prepared to take this to the Alberta courts if necessary,” Deranger said. “We are fully committed to be part of the hearing process, but we also feel our questions of constitutional law have to be addressed.”  – Edmonton Journal

ACFN is not about to stand down and we are gearing up for the long haul and hope that the support that has come in will continue and thank all those that have raised signs reading “I Stand with ACFN” and all the organizations that are standing behind us.  We hope that everyone understands the importance of our challenge of this project and how we are trying and change the course of how First Nations and treaty rights are recognized and accommodated by industry and industrial development in Alberta and put a stop to the injustices our people are facing.
Mahsi Cho

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

MEDIA ADVISORY: First Nation Presents Legal challenge of Shell’s Tar Sands Expansion along with Allies and Supports

First Nation Presents Legal challenge of Shell’s Tar Sands Expansion along with Allies and Supports

FORT MCMURRAY, ALBERTAOn October 23rd the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) will be presenting their arguments regarding their question of Constitutional Law to the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) and the Joint Review Panel (JRP) with respect to Shell Canada’s application to expand their Jackpine Mine tar sands project. The questions brought forward by ACFN are rooted in section 35 of the Canadian constitution outlining the governments failure to meaningfully address the overall impacts of development on ACFN’s treaty rights as set out in Treaty 8. Although, the ERCB and JRP have agreed to hear evidence from ACFN they stated they have not determined if they will make decisions regarding constitutional challenges regarding section 35 rights.  Chief Allan Adam of ACFN, along with allies and supporters, will be making a public statement regarding the importance of this challenge noon at MacDonald Island Park.

What?   Drummers, Banners & Press Statement made by Chief Allan Adam with public support followed by evening speaking event with ACFN representatives, Maude Barlow and members of Beaver Lake Cree Nation and Fort McKay First Nation.  

When and Where?           Tuesday October 23, 20

9:00am Hearings Begin
MacDonald Island Park
151 MacDonald Drive,
Fort McMurrary, AB T9H 5C

12:00pm ACFN Press Statement
MacDonald Island Park
151 MacDonald Drive,
Fort McMurrary, AB T9H 5C5

6:30pm Speaking Event
Athabasca Room
MacDonald Island Park
151 MacDonald Drive,
Fort McMurrary, AB T9H 5C5

Why?     With new and emerging changes to environmental laws in Canada, ACFN’s constitutional challenge based on Section 35 constitutional rights and Treaty 8 may be the only recourse for effectively challenging tar sands projects.  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.

For more information about the rally and press event please contact Eriel Deranger at 780-903-6598 or

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: First Nation concerned Bill C-45 allows Tar Sands industry to destroy vital waterways and treaty rights

First Nation concerned Bill C-45 allows Tar Sands industry to destroy vital waterways and treaty rights

October 18, 2012 – Fort McMurray, AB – Today the conservative government tabled a new version of Bill C-45, a 443-page bill, to implement its federal budget.  The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) was taken aback by the proposed amendments stating they are indicative of the further erosion of Treaty rights in Canada.  ACFN leadership is particularly worried about suggested amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the removal protections of culturally significant and vital river ways from the act.

“This is unacceptable.  They have made a unilateral decision remove the protection of waterways without adequate consultation with First Nations and communities that rely on river systems for navigation and cultural practices protected under treaty,” stated Eriel Deranger, Communication Coordinator for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. “Shell Canada has proposed to mine out 21km of the Muskeg River, a river of cultural and biological significance. This ultimately gives the tar sands industry a green light to destroy vital waterways still used by our people.”

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is gearing up for presenting a question of constitutional law against the application of Shell Oil Canada to expand one of it’s existing project, citing lack of adequate or meaningful consultation and that the application would have adverse impact on their treaty rights.  In particular, the application calls for the mining out of 21 km of the Muskeg river, a river of cultural and traditional significance to both the people and wildlife in the area.  The new legislative changes would remove the protection of the Muskeg river making it much easier for Shell to gain approval.

“I am seriously concerned. We have seen the erosion of our people’s Treaty rights throughout various forms of legislation over the past decade.  The new proposed amendments in Bill C-45 are proof to us that the government hold little stock in our rights and title and are creating more loop holes for industry to continue annihilating our lands,” stated Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.  “We hope there will be a public outcry that echoes our sentiment.  After all, we all share the responsibility to protect mother earth.”


For more information contact:

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