Treaty 8 Releases their statement and position on Alberta’s Final draft Aboriginal Consultation Policy

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation would like to share the following statement released by the office of the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta.

It is very important to understand the long term implications this policy would have on many First Nations ability to effectively assert and meaningfully protect their lands, rights and culture.  This is particularly important in resource rich areas of Alberta where many of the lagging environmental policies and practices have already lead to the cumulative removal of  lands, wildlife and fish habitat as well as the destruction of ecological, aesthetic and sensory systems that many Nations rely on. This has consequently affected Treaty promises, cultural and spiritual renewal, procurement of resources, and Peoples connection and use of landscape that are integral to traditional use. The proposed consultation policy does not leave room for adequate space and time to address these issues.  

Our people have unique rights and are developing our own sovereign tools and policies to pave the way forward.  The Alberta goverments proposed policy is nothing more then a slap in the face to our rights and sovereignty. 

Please share the following:

 

Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta
To Protect, Promote, Bring to Life, Implement, and Sustain the True Spirit and Intent of Treaty No. 8 as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the waters flow.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Chiefs Have No Input On Consultation Policy Changes

SUB OFFICE

c/o Santa Fe Plaza
18178 – 102 Avenue Edmonton, Alberta T5S 1S7 Telephone: (780) 444-9366 Fax: (780) 484-1465

Edmonton, Alberta – September 10, 2013 – The Government of Alberta has recently released it’s latest installment of Consultation Policy and draft Guidelines and long standing recommendations from First Nations are still noticeably absent from the document.

“In September of 2010, the Chiefs from across Alberta got together to produce a position paper on how to improve consultation policy within this province. That position paper gave clear recommendations on ways to create a better system, yet these are not reflected in this newly released policy. It is obvious that the government has not taken any of our positions into account in the development of this policy. This has been a very frustrating process,” states Richard Kappo, Grand Chief of Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta.

“The Chiefs from across Treaty 8 [Alberta] have just met to discuss this issue and after years of trying to improve consultation for both us and Albertans, they are not happy. We [The Chiefs of Treaty 8 Alberta] want to be clear that we were not just outright rejecting previous policies but instead, we provided the government with workable alternatives, all of which were ignored.” In addition to the position paper, Grand Chief Kappo is referring to numerous letters, since 2010, that have been sent to Alberta in regards to working with them to change the consultation process into a more adequate model. These attempts have had little success in adjusting this newest policy creation.

“We are talking about the very core of our Treaty Rights, the hunting, trapping and fishing rights of our members and ensuring those rights are preserved so we can continue to practice a traditional lifestyle,” says Grand Chief Kappo before adding, “We recognize that consultation is a two way street, and we made significant efforts to try to create meaningful opportunities for consultation and get the voices of our citizens heard. Unfortunately, no one within the Government of Alberta is listening to us.”

“Many of the Nations of Treaty 8 already have their own consultation practices and policies in place, something that they put a lot of thought, effort and resources into developing. This latest policy overrides any policies First Nations already have and leaves it up to industry on whether or not they want to follow them,” states the Grand Chief.

Alberta claims to be committed to working with First Nations but First Nations are skeptical. “We have already comprehensively laid out how to make the system better, but I don’t see any of that work reflected here [in the policy and draft guidelines],” says the Grand Chief. “They will have difficulty in finding receptive Chiefs when recent history suggests that our input will have no influence on the outcome.”

Contact:
Greg Posein Communications Coordinator gposein@treaty8.org
18178 – 102 Avenue Edmonton, Alberta T5S 1S7 Ph: (780) 444-9366 

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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

Yinka Dene Alliance Freedom Train – Tar Sands to Pipelines

The Yinka Dene Alliance is taking a Freedom Train across Canada to enforce their legal ban on the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipelines and tankers project, and to stand up for their freedom to choose their own future. A large delegation of Yinka Dene people will travel with allied First Nations from their traditional territories in northern BC all the way to Toronto, with events in Jasper, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Winnipeg along the route.

In Toronto, the Yinka Dene Alliance will take the Save the Fraser Declaration – which bans oil pipelines and tankers in the territories of more than 100 First Nations –  directly to Enbridge’s leadership and the centre of financial power in Toronto, at Enbridge’s annual shareholders meeting. These oil pipelines and tankers threaten the very survival of First Nations peoples with devastating oil spills. That is why the Yinka Dene Alliance are taking this Freedom Train across Canada: to stand up for the freedom to live according to their own cultures, the freedom to govern themselves and their lands, and the freedom of all of us from the catastrophic risks of big oil and their inevitable oil spills.

As part of this tour they will be stopping in Edmonton on May 1 and 2 and we would like to show them a warm welcome.

On May 1st various groups have organized a feast, round dance and time for people to hear the Yinka Dene speak and share the stories of their journey. For more information please check out the facebook event here.

On May 2nd, the Yinka Dene will rally at the Alberta Legislature and march to the Enbridge office in downtown Edmonton at 11:30am.  We welcome everyone to come and join them and help elevate their voices. For more information please check out the facebook event here.

As many of you remember, ACFN signed onto the Save the Fraser Declaration in January of this year.  We signed onto the declaration because we understand what is stake for the Yinka Dene and our struggles are one and the same.  We don’t want our rights, lands and people sidelined by profits and “development.” As Indigenous peoples we have an intricate relationship with Mother Earth and all that she provides us and we must carry out our duties as stewards of the land and stand up for those that cannot speak.

The connection to the Enbridge pipelines challenge lies in our own challenge of Shell’s proposed projects .  Shell’s proposed projects would more then double their production producing 600,000 b/p/d of tar sands contributing to cumulative impacts already felt in the region.  Shell’s projects alone would be enough to fill the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines enabling Shell’s expansion of tar sands development in our traditional lands, pushing us beyond the tipping point of what our lands and way of life can sustain. The proposed pipelines would also cross over 1000 rivers, 3 major salmon bearing rivers, and across unceeded territories of many First Nations in BC.

Both Shell and Enbridge projects have lacked proper analysis of Treaty and Indigenous rights and meaningful and proper consultation with impacted communities.  The JRP of the Enbridge pipelines has seen First Nation communities stand up in opposition in community after community asserting their connection to the land and culture are far greater then the piece meal profits and jobs they would get from the project.

Because the themes of our struggles intersect, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has been and will continue to keep a watchful eye on the progress of the Yinka Dene Alliance’s challenge of these massive pipelines.  It is our hope they will be successful in asserting their rights to both the corporations and the governments, then perhaps we can share in their strength challenging projects here in Northern Alberta.

12 Major oil companies, including Shell, ban together to greenwash the Tar Sands

Today 12 oil companies have joined together to create the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA).  The groups state the purpose of COSIA is to share and conduct research and technology development in several key areas of environmental performance in the tar sands. These  areas include greenhouse gases, land disturbance, water, air emissions and management of tailings, the toxic effluent produced by tar sands. For more information please see the report in the National Post.

One must be skeptical of such an alliance of multi-national corporations operating in the tar sands.  Tar sands development has been under heavy criticism over the last year after disparaging reports from the October Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which criticized current monitoring and the legitimacy of RAMP’s data.  That coupled with tar sands pipeline opposition in the US (TransCanada – Keystone XL) and Canada (Enbridge Northern Gateway), and the recent heated debates surrounding the labeling of tar sands as a high carbon fuel in the new EU Fuel Quality Directive, one starts to see the motives of these corporations.  They are doing their best to create positive PR for their shareholders and the public.

This effort of major oil companies banning together to try and create “independent data” on tar sands seems like a last ditch effort to try and greenwash the industry. COSIA even went so far as remarking that although they will be independent of CAPP they feel CAPP will be supportive of their research and work.  Of course they will be and already are. CAPP has been working as hard as the tobacco industry did by exploring any and all efforts to disprove the negative impacts of their respective industries. CAPP has highlighted COSIA on their homepage with a link directly to COSIA’s “independent” site.

One should be cautious of the data being developed by COSIA, which will produce non-binding recommendations with no actual set goals or timelines for any environmental protection or stewardship.  In fact, in their opening statement representatives from COSIA made it clear they are looking at improving environmental leadership while facilitating the growth of the work in the tar sands.  Basically, business as usual with the continued pace of ridiculous growth, but now with a new veil to try and placate the public.

All of this is so reminiscent of the efforts of the tobacco industry, see here for a short video on the history of tobacco industry efforts.

Greenpeace had this to say about today’s announcement:

In the absence of any commitments to real reductions in pollution with penalties for not meeting them, this is simply another example of “greenwash”, where an industry association makes vague promises to clean up its act in order to avoid regulations with real teeth. This regulatory dodge was invented by the chemical industry in the 1980s post-Bhopal and perfected by the oil and auto industries in the 1990s as they signed up to a “voluntary challenge” in order to avoid real limits on greenhouse gas emissions.[1]

What is interesting about today’s announcement is that the audience for this PR initiative is not the federal or Alberta governments, who have made it clear that they won’t bring in new regulations[2] or even enforce the ones they have[3], but governments in the US and Europe who are preparing to act on the climate impact of the tar sands because they recognize that Canadian governments won’t.

[1] For an academic take on this, see Douglas Macdonald, Business and Environmental Politics in Canada, Broadview Press (2007), especially Chapter 5.[2]  We’re still waiting for those tough new limits on industrial polluters John Baird promised in 2007, while Peter Kent has indefinitely delayed his promised regulations on the tar sands. [3] The Government of Alberta is not enforcing its own tailings rules.

The 12 companies which have signed the COSIA Charter are: BP Canada Energy Company, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Cenovus Energy Inc., ConocoPhillips Canada Resources Corp., Devon Canada Corporation, Imperial Oil, Nexen Inc., Shell Canada Energy, Statoil Canada Ltd., Suncor Energy Inc., Teck Resources Limited, and Total E&P Canada Ltd.

The names on this list are not surprising.  Most of them are corporations with heavy stakes in the tar sands with new projects awaiting approval.  This includes Shell.  It becomes increasingly clear Shell is willing to pull out all the stops and pursue all angles to try and argue there is nothing wrong with current projects to give way for a clear path for approvals of their two new projects, Jackpine Mine Expansion and Pierre River Mine. Both projects currently under review and being contested by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. It should also be mentioned that Shell has also been involved in lobby efforts in the EU to try and dissuade EU countries from labeling tar sands as a high carbon fuel.

So the question remains, who’s interests are being served by such a coalition of multinational corporations deeply invested in tar sands expansion?

I hardly believe that it will be in the public’s interest and I guarantee that First Nations traditional and ecological rights will not be included in the development of any data created by COSIA.  Once again a platform is being developed that exclude our people, our rights and our knowledge out of the bigger picture and gives the power to the very people who are oppressing us.

From Pipelines to Tar Sands Expansion ACTION ALERT!

ACTION ALERT: Submit written comments on Shell’s revised Jackpine and Pierre River mine agreements

Yesterday the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency released notice of Public Consultation on Revised Joint Review Panel Agreements. The proposed revisions being put forward by CEAA are to allow the Jackpine Mine Review Panel to also review the Pierre River Mine project together.  The possibility of appointing the same panel to review the two projects was already under consideration and a single, integrated Environmental Impact Statement has been prepared by Shell Oil (the proponent) for the two projects.

ACFN is concerned about the proposed Shell Projects impacts on ACFN’s ability to exercise treaty rights in a meaningful way into the future.  The regulatory process DOES NOT meet ACFN’s need in terms of a proper assessment of impacts to rights. ACFN has no assurance that the environment and treaty rights can be protected because Alberta has done a poor job of enforcing environmental protection with the companies and  Shell has not met past commitments to ACFN. In September of 2011, ACFN  filed suit suing Shell Canada for these unmet agreement (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation serves Shell Canada with intent to Sue over tar sands projects).

Chief Adam of ACFN stated, “We’re drawing the line, and taking a strong stand against Shell. ACFN wants no further developments until Shell is brought to justice and our broader concerns about the cumulative impacts in the region are addressed, our treaty rights respected and our rights are fully recognized within the approval process once and for all.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • WRITE IN AND VOICE YOUR CONCERNS BY FEB. 24, 2012
  • REGISTER AS AN INTERESTED PARTY BY FEB. 24, 2012 AND PRESENT TO THE PANEL DURING THE HEARINGS 
  • LET’S KEEP UP THE MOMENTUM AND PRESSURE AGAINST INDUSTRY
  • SUPPORT ACFN AND OUR CASE AGAINST SHELL OIL CANADA

For more information on how to submit comments and register by  February 24, 2012 please visit the CEAA site here or contact:

Kurt Saunders, Associate Director
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
160 Elgin Street, 22nd floor, Ottawa ON K1A 0H3
Tel.: 613- 948-1351 or 1-866-582-1884
Fax: 613-957-0941
kurt.saunders@ceaa-acee.gc.ca

THE BASICS OF SHELL’S PROPOSED PROJECTS:

1. Jackpine Mine Expansion:

Shell Canada is proposing to expand the Jackpine Mine (Jackpine Mine Expansion, JPME). The expansion would include additional mining areas and associated processing facilities, utilities and infrastructure. The project would be located about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray on the east side of the Athabasca River. The expansion project would increase tar sands production by 100,000 barrels per day (to a total of 300,000 bbl/day). Proposed water usage includes an 18,000,000 m3/yr diversion from the Athabasca River. The proposed expansion includes plans to mine out a portion of the Muskeg River, which is culturally important to ACFN. Based on recent calculations, the total footprint proposed for the development is 20,801.6 hectares.

ACFN submitted a joint submission to Joint Review Panel outlining the concerns of the JPME project application just last month.  The joint submission asserts rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, including rights pursuant to Treaty 8, to hunt, fish, and trap, which guarantees First Nations have a meaningful livelihood now and for the future. ACFN’s joint submission identified the following overarching flaws in the application:

1. Shell has not provided sufficient information with respect to the Project’s impacts and infringements of our section 35 rights for the JRP to comply with the Terms of Reference.

2. Shell has not provided sufficient information for the JRP to be able to conduct an assessment of the cumulative effects of the Project, either on environmental components or on our section 35 rights and traditional uses.

3. Shell has not provided sufficient information for the JRP to assess water quantity issues, including the degree to which the Project could diminish water levels below the threshold level where we can still exercise our section 35 rights and fully access our traditional lands.

More information available here in past post: Shell’s Environmental Impact Assessment Fails to Protect the Environment and First Nation Rights

2.  Pierre River Mine:

Shell Canada is also proposing the Pierre River Mine Project (PRM), which includes the construction, operation, and reclamation of an tar sands surface mine and bitumen extraction facilities. The proposed mining project would be located approximately 90 kilometres north of Fort McMurray on the west side of the Athabasca River. It is about 27 kilometres to the south and west of ACFN’s Poplar Point Reserve. The proposed development includes an open-pit mine, ore handling facility, bitumen extraction facilities, tailings processing facilities, support infrastructure, water and tailings management plans, as well as the construction of a bridge across the Athabasca River. The project is designed to produce a total of 200,000 barrels of tar sands per day. Water usage includes a 55,100,000 m3/year diversion from the Athabasca River. Based on recent calculations, the total proposed footprint is 10,402.90.

THE TOTAL FOOTPRINT OF BOTH PROJECTS:

  • 31,205.5 HECTARES OF LAND
  • 73,100,000 M3/YEAR OF WATER DIVERTED FROM THE ATHABASCA RIVER
  • PROJECTS IMPACT CRITICAL HABITAT OF WILDLIFE
  • PROJECTS WOULD IMPACT CULTURALLY SENSITIVE ACFN TERRITORY
  • PROJECTS WOULD IMPACT AND ALTER PROTECTED HUNTING, FISHING, TRAPPING AND GATHERING RIGHTS OF ACFN; AND
  • CREATE 500,000 BARRELS OF TARSANDS PER DAY

New Year, New Obstabcles: Proposed Shell Expansion and the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline

Coming out of the holiday season and right back into the eye of the storm….2012 is Shell’s expansion and pipelines.

The hot topic for the start of 2012 has been the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.  The proposed pipeline would carry approximately 525,000 barrels/day of oil, predominately tar sands oil, from Alberta to a port in Kitimat and ship 193,000 barrels/day of toxic condensate back along the same route to Alberta.

It’s pretty easy to draw the lines of connection between the Pipeline and the planned tar sands expansion projects of corporations like Shell.  Shell is planning on more then doubling production to total of 500,000 barrels/day and they are going to need a way to ship their tar sands somewhere…

The Northern Gateway pipeline would cross over 1,000 streams and rivers, including sensitive salmon spawning habitat in the upper Fraser, Skeena, and Kitimat watersheds.  Salmon rivers in the Stuart River, Morice River, Copper River, Kitimat River and Salmon River could be drastically impacted by the pipeline.  In addition, the Pipeline is set to chis-cross the territories of more than 50 First Nations.  In BC very few of these Nations have signed treaties with the Crown lending to a sticky mess of  rights and title to wade through.  Currently, the rights and title of BC First Nation to their traditional territories has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada and yet, the current Joint Review Panel does little to address this issue.

This past fall 4,300 individuals signed up to present oral testimony at the Enbridge hearings scheduled across BC and Alberta. Here in Alberta we have 14 Aboriginal communities registered to be an Intervenor. In BC, the list of First Nation and non-first Nation opposition is growing at an exponential rate.  The Yinka Dene Alliance has garnered the support of over 130 First Nation groups signing onto  the Save the Fraser Declaration opposing the pipeline.

What’s all the fuss, you ask?  Well, let’s take a look at how often pipeline’s rupture.  Enbridge alone recorded 610 ruptures and spills between 1999 and 2010. And of course we all know how bad an oil spill can be and how devastating it can be to eco-systems.  We all need to just take a good look at the BP oil spill for a reminder, or perhaps Exxon Valdez.  For a more details overview of Enbridge Spills Click HERE.

Today, the Conservative government released a statement damning “radical” environmentalists opposed to Canadian resource development. Oliver is quick to makes statements such as “These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.” And, “They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special-interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest.”  All the while, Oliver has shown his true colors by pushing for measures to speed up Canada’s regulatory process for major natural resource initiatives.  We all know these means allowing faster approval for tar sands projects and pipelines.

What bothers me the most about these statements is the Conservative government fails to recognize that it’s not just environmental groups that oppose the pipeline. It’s private citizens from municipalities and communities in the path of the pipeline. It’s First Nations across turtle island supporting opposition to expansion of tar sands projects, which in my opinion, is an extension of the tar sands projects carrying the dirty legacy to the west coast of the country. Secondly, it bothers me that he criticizes these group for utilizing funds from foreign special-interest groups, when he is doing much worse, he is utilizing public funds to uphold an agenda that is not fully supported by the general public.

When 4,300 regular citizen step up to the plate to raise their voice and concern over the Northern Gateway it’s obvious there is something wrong.  Let’s hope the NEB listens to the criticism and evidence being brought forward and doesn’t rubber stamp another project without weighing all of the pro, cons, and rights of the public and those most impacted.

As a member of a community being impacted by rapid tar sands development in the Athabasca it’s hard for me to ignore the Northern Gateway pipeline issue and draw the obvious lines of connection.  Rapid expansion in the tar sands has left developers struggling for inexpensive ways to ship, refine and sell their oil.  As of late, Canadian leaders have been utilizing the angle of moral high ground when it comes to the tar sands.  However, recently this illusion of “ethical oil” is being shattered by new tar sands partnerships being built with countries like China. China, a country with a long list of human rights abuses. Oliver used the argument “It’s in the national interest to diversify our markets. And that is a strategic objective.” Again, logic has been brought back to the dollar and overlooks the environment and First Nation rights.

It is my personal sentiment that we stand in solidarity with the groups opposing the projects.  That we stand with those looking out for future generations, and looking out for mother earth.  I for one, will no longer let run away expansion and development occur in my territory and urge you all to take a stand and say enough is enough.

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s Case against Shell

WHAT CASE?

On September 30, 2011 the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) filed a lawsuit against Shell Canada for unfulfilled terms of agreements between ACFN and Shell regarding Shell’s existing tar sands mines.  These agreements were meant to ensure Shell would provide measures to lessen impact of these mines on ACFN, including agreements to address environmental issues and mitigation. Shell received permits to begin tar sands operations in 1956 and is now one of the largest operators producing close to 20% of overall production with projects directly on Indigenous lands.

Shell has not honored these agreements with ACFN leaving many commitments outstanding. ACFN members and others have observed that Shell’s operations are harming the environment and ACFN’s rights and culture, the impacts of the failed agreements contribute to the following:

  • lost opportunities to conduct environmental monitoring in the ACFN’s traditional territory during the development of Shell’s projects; and
  • lost opportunity to mitigate impacts and potential impacts to ACFN aboriginal and treaty rights caused by the development of these projects.

IMPACTS OF SHELL EXISTING PROJECTS

  • Polluted water and contributed to low water levels in the Athabasca and Muskeg Rivers.
  • Shell has exceeded surface water quality, ground water quality and air quality values at the Muskeg River Mine.
  •  Fish and wildlife have been impacted by poor water quality downstream of oil sands. There are only 3 Fishery officers for all of Alberta.
  • Shell’s Scotford upgrader, which processes bitumen from the Muskeg River Mine, has had accidents resulting in fires and uncontrolled releases of deadly H2S.
  • Shell tried to avoid installing sufficient pollution control equipment at the Muskeg River Mine and was unable to meet its solvent recovery requirements.
  •  At the adjoining Styrene Monomer Manufacturing Plant, Shell has released wastewater effluent that failed to meet permit limits (August 2008) and has also released wastewater without even sampling or monitoring the discharge at all (June 2001).
  • Shell’s tailings plans for both the Jackpine Mine and the Muskeg River Mine did not meet the standards of Directive 074, the government policy designed to reduce the environmental impact of tailings.
  •  Shell has not honored their agreement with the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition either – Shell had promised OSEC to reduce its greenhouse gas pollution to levels in line with alternatives available in North America.

WHAT NOW?

Now, Shell is proposing to massively expand one of these existing projects, and also has plans for a completely new project in an area that is very important to ACFN’s traditional way of life.  ACFN  members fear that these mines will have catastrophic effects on First Nations rights and the environment.   If Shell Canada’s proposals are approved it would more then double their production.  ACFN is drawing the line, and taking a strong stand against Shell. ACFN wants no further developments until Shell is brought to justice and their broader concerns about the cumulative impacts in the region are addressed.

For more information on the Joint Review Process for the two proposed projects please click here.

IMPACTS OF PROPOSED SHELL PROJECTS

  • Significantly impact at least 10 species at risk and a range of wildlife and habitat in the area;
  • Drive ACFN members out of an actively used region of their territory that is critical to maintaining their culture, particularly for the families and members associated with the southern territories of ACFN’s traditional lands, which have already been devastated by oil sands development;
  • Contribute to the massive water withdrawals by oil sands projects from the Athabasca River, which ACFN members rely on as a transportation highway to their traditional sites, but which is now reported to be so low at points that safe access is no longer possible to many  traditional sites throughout ACFN’s lands;
  • Contribute to the contamination of the Athabasca River, the lifeblood of ACFN culture – already many members are too concerned to eat fish from the Athabasca River, once a cultural staple;
  • Generate vast amounts of tailings (JPM would be the largest tailings pond in the oil sands), a toxic legacy which the industry still has no foreseeable ability to reclaim or de-contaminate; and
  • Significantly accelerate the overwhelming development occurring on ACFN’s traditional lands,. ACFN members are at the tipping point for the survival of their culture, their traditional practices and the rights solemnly promised to them by the Crown under Treaty 8.

WHAT CAN I DO?

So far, Shell has only promised to address some of these effects if First Nations enter into agreements with Shell.  But, Shell’s performance on ACFN’s traditional lands has given good reason for ACFN to oppose to the proposed Jackpine Mine Expansion and Pierre River Mine. The Joint Review Panel, the government regulators and the people of Alberta should not trust this particular corporation to do the right thing.

The Joint Review Panel reviewing the proposed Jackpine Mine Expansion project announced a comment period on the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the Application filed by the proponent, Shell Canada Ltd. This comment period provides interested parties an opportunity to express their views to the Panel on the adequacy of the available information.

“The Panel will review the public comments received and will determine whether it will require additional information from the proponent. Once the Panel is satisfied that the information is adequate, it will announce the details of the public hearing, including the hearing commencement date, the hearing venue, and any prehearing process and will provide a minimum of 60 days notice prior to the start of the hearing.” [http://news.gc.ca/web/article-eng.do?nid=626129]

Forward your written comments by mail, e-mail or fax, in either official language by December 16, 2011 to the Panel Secretariat at the address below. All comments received by the Joint Review Panel will be considered public and will be posted on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry Internet site.

Joint Review Panel Secretariat
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H3
Tel.: 1-866-582-1884
Fax: 613-957-0941
Shell.Reviews@ceaa-acee.gc.ca

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW YOU CAN SUBMIT PUBLIC COMMENTS PLEASE CLICK HERE

ACFN is drawing the line, and taking a strong stand against these proposed Shell projects and the rapid development of its traditional lands without regard for its treaty rights, its cultural survival or the devastating environmental impacts. ACFN wants no further developments until Shell is brought to justice and our broader concerns about the impacts of development in the region are addressed.