Indigenous leaders to gather in support

Photo: UBCIC

Hereditary chiefs opposed to a natural gas pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. are holding a gathering of solidarity on Wednesday that is expected to attract Indigenous leaders from across the province.

Chief Judy Wilson, secretary treasurer of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said she was planning to attend the meeting and other members of the group had already flown to Smithers.

“I’m heading up there to support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the people, the clans, in their fight to protect their land,” Wilson said.

She said the difficulty that the hereditary chiefs have had in getting their authority recognized by industry and government is familiar.

Elected band councils are based on a colonial model of governance, she said. Under the tradition of her Secwepemc First Nation in the B.C. Interior, title belongs to all of the people within the nation.

“Collectively, people hold title for our nation,” she said.

Coastal GasLink says it has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations bands along the pipeline route to LNG Canada’s $40-billion export facility in Kitimat, B.C.

But the project has come until scrutiny because five hereditary clan chiefs within the Wet’suwet’en say the project has no authority without their consent.

While elected band councils are administrators of their reserves, the hereditary chiefs say they are in charge of the 22,000 square kilometres comprising Wet’suwet’en traditional territory, including land the pipeline would run through.

Members of the First Nation and supporters were arrested last week at a checkpoint erected to block the company from accessing a road it needs to do pre-construction work on the project, sparking protests Canada-wide.

On Thursday, the hereditary chiefs reached at deal with RCMP, agreeing that members would abide by a temporary court injunction by allowing the company and its contractors access across a bridge further down the road, so long as another anti-pipeline camp is allowed to remain intact.

Hereditary Chief Na’Moks told reporters that the chiefs reached the agreement to ensure the safety of those remaining at the Unist’ot’en camp, but remain “adamantly opposed” to the project.

The interim court injunction will be in place until the defendants, including residents and supporters of the Unist’ot’en camp, file a response in court Jan. 31.

A Facebook page for the Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidumt’en territory posted an alert on Sunday calling for rolling actions across the country.

It referred to the 1997 Delgamuuk’w case, fought by the Wet’suwet’en and the Gitsxan First Nations, in which the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that Aboriginal title constituted an ancestral right protected by the constitution.

“As the Unist’ot’en camp says, ‘This fight is far from over. We paved the way with the Delgamuuk’w court case and the time has come for Delgamuuk’w II,’ ” the statement says.

The ruling in the Delgamuuk’w case had an impact on other court decisions, affecting Aboriginal rights and title, including the court’s recognition of the Tsilhqot’in nation’s aboriginal title lands.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

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Indigenous convoy slows Ontario highway traffic in solidarity with B.C. pipeline protest

The eight-car convoy left from the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne early Friday morning, with hopes of reaching the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont. (Stephanie Brown/CBC)

‘We’re standing strong with our brothers and sisters out west,’ said one participant.

A convoy of vehicles slowed traffic on a stretch of Canada’s busiest highway Friday morning in Ontario in a show of solidarity with an anti-pipeline protest in British Columbia.

Eight westbound vehicles rolled down Highway 401 near Cornwall, Ont., at about 50 km/h during the early rush hour. Provincial police cruisers formed a buffer around the convoy and surrounding traffic.

The vehicles are carrying people from the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, about 86 kilometres southeast of Ottawa, and the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, just south of Montreal.

Brandon Bigtree, who was driving one of the vehicles, said the demonstration was to show support for protesters at the Unist’ot’en camp — the site of a fortified checkpoint preventing people set to work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline project from accessing the Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Wet’suwet’en and police have agreed to allow the company access to do pre-construction work as specified in an interim injunction order for the time being, following arrests on Monday.

“We’re standing strong with our brothers and sisters out west. What’s going on out there isn’t right,” Bigtree said.

He said Indigenous communities across the country feel the federal government and provinces are failing them.

“We just need to let [the federal government] know that we’re all united.”

Those in the convoy from the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne are also trying to raise awareness about local governance issues. Some in the community are frustrated with how the elected band council has handled  negotiations over a 130-year-old land grievance along the banks of the St. Lawrence River. They are advocating for the nation’s hereditary leadership to play a larger role in the process.

The convoy hopes to make it to ​the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., today.

CBC News · Posted: Jan 11, 2019

[SOURCE]

RCMP Roadblock Lifted Allowing Access to Unist’ot’en Camp

Image – Unist’ot’en Camp Facebook page

Hereditary chiefs expected to give update on talks with RCMP when media reach camp 

  • RCMP roadblock lifted, allowing supporters and media access to Unist’ot’en camp.

According to CBC News, RCMP have opened their roadblock on a remote forest road in northern B.C., allowing access to a camp that has been the focal point of a First Nations protest against a natural gas pipeline.

Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs reached an agreement with the RCMP that includes opening the area that had been off limits to supporters and the media since Monday.

14 arrested after RCMP breach Gitdumt’en checkpoint

RCMP have confirmed they arrested 14 people at the Gitdumt’en checkpoint.

On Monday the RCMP announced they were going to enforce a court injunction to allow Coastal GasLink access to the road and bridge near Houston, B.C.

The RCMP followed through at approximately 2:51 p.m. when several members of the Tactical and Emergency Response Teams forcefully breached the Gitdumt’en camp’s checkpoint.

When police went over top of the barricade there was a scuffle between the advancing RCMP and the first line of Gitdumt’en clan members.

Journalists say the land defenders who were protecting their territory were not armed.

Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., filed for an injunction against Unist’ot’en Camp last month.

According to Vice News, the barricade was built by organizers from the Gitdumt’en clan, one of five Wet’suwet’en clans, with the goal of protecting the Unist’ot’en camp from being raided, further up the road.

The Unist’ot’en camp established in 2010 was set up by members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation with support of Hereditary chiefs to prevent Coast GasLink workers from gaining access.

Monday’s arrests took place at the Gitdumt’en checkpoint on Morice West Forest Service Road for various offences, including alleged violations of an injunction order against the blockade, reports the National Observer.

Fourteen land defenders, including Molly Wickam, a spokesperson for the camp, were taken into police custody and the blockade dismantled.

RCMP say they entered the blockade, after a meeting with a number of hereditary chiefs and Coast GasLink failed to resolve the issue without police involvement.

Unist’ot’en camp now awaits an RCMP raid after the injunction was enforced at the Gitdumt’en checkpoint.

In a statement, RCMP addressed what police called “erroneous” reports that RCMP jammed communications in the area, and that the military was present during the police enforcement operation.

“We would like to clarify that both of these allegations are incorrect,” the statement says. “The area is extremely remote and even police had limited access to communication.”

A news release issued Sunday on behalf of Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says all five Wet’suwet’en clans, including the Gitdumt’en, oppose the construction of oil and gas pipelines in their territory.

An elder arrested on Monday has already been released. The remainder of the arrestees were taken to Prince George to stand before a Justice of the Peace.

Indigenous protesters arrested at TRU Trans Mountain meeting

The protest on Monday led to three arrests by Kamloops RCMP and closure of the Campus Activity Centre at TRU.

Mayuk Manuel, Snutetkwe Manuel and Isha Jules arrested 

Kamloops RCMP arrested three people at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) on Monday morning and access to part of the campus was restricted as a result of a protest.

According to media reports, a Trans Mountain roundtable consultation meeting about the proposed pipeline expansion was taking place at TRU.

It is believed former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci and his team were meeting with local Indigenous groups when the protesters arrived.

Handprints in red paint could be seen outside TRU’s Campus Activity Centre, as well as splatters of paint on the pavement.

The RCMP confirmed the arrests but wouldn’t comment on what the protest was about.

However, those arrested have been identified in a social media post as Indigenous protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

According to tweets by Kanahus Manuel, a spokesperson for the Tiny House Warriors, her twin sister Mayuk Manuel was one of those arrested along with Snutetkwe Manuel and Isha Jules.

An RCMP investigation into mischief and assault is underway.

In an statement, a TRU spokesperson said “the incident (and the protest) was related to a private event.”

As a precaution the university restricted access to the Campus Activity Centre until 4:30 p.m.

Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said the Kamloops RCMP detachment was aware of the consultation meeting in advance and had formulated a plan for dealing with demonstrations if they took place.

The roundtable meetings are designed to determine how the consultation process will unfold.

To see the demonstration, check out the video below.

Video posted to Facebook by Snutetkwe Manuel

By Black Powder, RPM Staff

Premier calls on N.S. Fishermen to end Blockade of Pipeline Survey Vessel

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s premier says he’s hoping fishermen end a blockade of survey boats hired to examine a route for an undersea effluent pipeline, but he has no plans to extend the company’s deadline.

Stephen McNeil said Thursday he’d advise fishermen to let the seismic research in the Northumberland Strait take place because it’s a lawful activity.

“My hope is that people will allow people to do their jobs. What they (the company) is doing is seismic work …. Then the ongoing public consultation will have to take place as to what will be or wouldn’t be,” the premier said after a cabinet meeting.

However, he also said it’s up the Northern Pulp mill near Pictou, N.S., to decide whether to call in the RCMP to end the blockade.

McNeil said opponents should recognize an environmental review would allow for public debate over a proposed pipeline that would end the use of a waste-water plant located at Boat Harbour.

Still, as fishermen continued a blockade of the harbour mouth they started earlier this week, the timeline for completing the pipeline before a provincially legislated deadline looked increasingly tight.

The province has a requirement of January 2020 for Northern Pulp to stop sending its waste to the First Nation territory.

The normal period of time for an environmental review is close to two months, and work on a potential pipeline would need to begin during construction seasons in 2019 to be complete by early the following year.

The Liberal government has vowed that after half a century of toxic waste — with 70 million litres of treated waste daily still flowing lagoons on the edge of the Pictou Landing First Nation reserve — Northern Pulp must find an alternative.

As the weeks slip by, McNeil said it’s up to the company and the community to figure out a way forward.

“The timeline is tight there’s no question. … It’s up to the company. The company knew the deadline. The community knows the deadline,” said the premier.

“We’ll continue to go out and work with the community, communicate back to the community about public hearings … There are three elected public officials in that area, they can tell me where they stand on the issue … I’ve heard from none of them about it.”

Tory leader Tim Houston, who is one of the three members of the legislature for the area, said that wasn’t true.

The new Progressive Conservative leader said McNeil has forgotten he sent his office a letter calling for a more intensive level of environmental review than has been approved.

Houston said he wants a level 2 environmental review, as has occurred in the planned cleanup of the Boat Harbour lagoon, rather than the level 1 set for the effluent pipeline.

In a class 1 review, the proponent does a large portion of the work to determine the potential impacts of the project. After it is filed with the province, the province will review the application, give the public 30 days to voice any opinion on the project and then make a decision on whether it is approved, conditionally approved or denied.

A class 2 involves a 275-day timeline that requires a full public hearing and involves a panel of external environmental experts.

Houston said as it stands, the community has lost confidence in the process, and this is why fishermen are blocking the harbour.

“The blockade is a byproduct of the government’s failure to say it’s going to properly scrutinize the project. Fishers are worried,” he said.

The group of Northumberland Strait fishermen have said they will block any survey boats from entering the strait by placing their own vessels in its path.

Fisherman Mike Noel, one of the spokesmen for the group, said there were no boats blocking the harbour on Thursday due to rough weather, but they can respond quickly if a survey vessel tries to use the port.

Noel said there are no plans to change course based on the premier’s comments, as the strait’s ecosystem is at stake.

“He (Stephen McNeil) hasn’t had any conversation with us, so no, we have no thoughts to stop anyway until we have some conversation with the government anyway,” he said.

A spokesperson for Paper Excellence Canada, the Richmond, B.C., company which owns the pulp mill, has said the survey data would be of interest to various parties, and that it will work with authorities to ensure the safety of all involved.

The company has stated publicly a number of times that there are no other viable options than an undersea pipeline for large mills like the one it operates, and said it believes the treated effluent would not damage the fisheries in the strait.

Paper Excellence has also said the mill and its 300 employees will be out of work unless it can build a pipeline to the strait.

By Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Indigenous Mexican farmers fight giant gas pipeline

  • TransCanada is building a gas pipeline in southern Mexico that’s threatening to cast indigenous communities off their land. But some are refusing to yield to the pressure to leave and are taking their fight to court.

Article originally published by DW.com

As Dona Maura Aparicio Torres finished planting her corn, she saw a man walking through her field. He trampled over her plants, took photographs and scribbled in a notebook as he approached her house.

A few days later, he was back. This time, he came with a demand that she give him the paperwork for her land. “We’re going to build a pipeline here,” he told her. That was in May 2017.

Two years earlier, the Canadian company TransCanada won the contract to build the Tuxpan-Tula pipeline, a 287-kilometer (178-mile) structure that will run across four states in southern Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico. The state energy authorities had approved the pipeline, as part of reforms begun under Mexico’s former president, Pena Nieto.

Much of the structure has already been built, apart from the final 90-kilometer stretch that runs through the village of Chila de Juarez and intersects the field where Torres grows corn and peanuts.

Resisting the state

“Our harvest is the most valuable thing we have,” says Torres, who was born into the Otomi indigenous community in Chila de Juarez. She still lives in the area with her husband and three children, in a house she bought from her mother-in-law. She sees no alternative but to stand up for what is hers.

“I don’t know where I would go if I lost my land,” she told DW.

A number of indigenous communities have joined forces to fight the pipeline. The sign here reads: ‘Say no to the gas pipeline. We’re an indigenous community and demand respect’

She is now part of a protest movement led and advised by a regional council of indigenous peoples in the states of Puebla and Hidalgo. The group was formed to share information and join forces in their claims against TransCanada.

Spokeswoman Oliveria Montes says a feeling of mistrust reigns — toward the company, the state and even neighbors.

“As soon as one person in the community sells their land, the neighbors thinks they have to sell theirs too,” she told DW.

Part of what the indigenous council does, she says, is to explain that people who are promised money to leave their land often never see a cent.

Torres received an offer of money on one of the many return visits she received from the man who had trampled her plants. When she asked him how much was on the table, he refused to name a figure. “We’ll resettle you,” he told her. “Where?” she asked. His response was another demand that she hand over the paperwork for her land. She refused.

He left his telephone number and a threat to build on the land whether she moved or not. She never called. And for the time being at least, she is still there.

A temporary reprieve

At the end of 2017, construction on the pipeline was paused following a complaint filed by the indigenous council. The case, which involves Chila de Juarez and four other communities, is now in court because before such a mega-project can be built the Mexican energy ministry must assess its impacts on the environment and residents.

While the ministry did produce such an impact report, the council questions its findings. According to Raymundo Espinoza Hernandez, a lawyer representing the council, 459 communities and 260,000 people would be affected by the construction, but the ministry assessment “only made mention of 11 communities,” he says.

TransCanada is also building other pipelines in Mexico, including the Tamazunchale pipeline extension (pictured) which runs through some of the country’s most mountainous terrain

When asked to comment, TransCanada said its subsidiary Transportadora de Gas Natural de la Huasteca (TGNH) was responsible for the Tuxpan-Tula pipeline. The same company that employs the man Torres found traipsing across her property.

TransCanada also said it knew nothing of appropriation of land in indigenous communities and does not support moving people off their land without prior consultation and consent. It concluded that it was ultimately up to the Mexican government to decide whether construction could proceed or not.

A charged atmosphere

TransCanada is under pressure. The company wants the pipeline to be up and running at the beginning of 2019. It’s part of a larger network that would eventually see natural gas flowing from Brownsville in Texas to Tuxpan and Tula in the heart of Mexico. And it’s already come under fire in the United States for the Keystone pipeline, which runs through Native American land.

So far, the delays on the pipeline as a result of resistance have pushed its costs up by a third to almost €347 million ($400 million) and Espinoza is worried that will have a negative impact on those standing in the way.

“They’ll play the communities off against each other,” the lawyer said. “If the company can’t continue with legal means, they’ll use violence to force their way into the communities.”

Torres shares his fears. “I’m afraid they’ll destroy me,” she said.

Dona Maura Aparicio Torres and her husband don’t want to leave their land nestled below the holy mountain of the Otomi people. They say they don’t know what they would do without it.

Immovable mountain

Her husband, Salvador Murcia Escalera stands among young peanut plants with a pick in his hand. He spent 14 years working as a hired hand on a plantation in California so he could send money back home. He returned when his wife called him to say her land was under threat.

“The land gives us everything,” says Torres. And she doesn’t want to see that taken away from her. She also worries that the holy mountain of the Otomi people could be blown apart to facilitate the pipeline, as has already happened in other communities.

She looks up at the mountain into which her land nestles. Legend has it that a young man called Margarito once climbed to the top, and was so tired on arrival that he laid down to sleep and never returned. The Otomi in Chila de Juarez worship him as a rain God, taking sheep, beans and corn to the mountain for him. Just like Margarito, Torres never wants to leave.

[SOURCE]

Minnesota Regulators Postpone Line 3 Meeting After Protests

FILE: Protest against the Enbridge Line 3 replacement in Minnesota.

Enbridge Line 3 meetings postponed after protests erupt

Minnesota regulators postponed a meeting Tuesday on Enbridge Energy’s planned Line 3 replacement after pipeline opponents disrupted the meeting with a bullhorn and a boombox.

Protests erupted as the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met to discuss whether Enbridge met conditions earlier imposed by the panel. The PUC approved the project in June, giving Enbridge a green light to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across Minnesota.

Opponents in the back of the PUC hearing room took out a bullhorn and made speeches aimed at the commissioners, the Star Tribune reported.

“You should all be ashamed,” one protester said.

PUC Chairwoman Nancy Lange recessed the meeting but eventually canceled it when a protester playing music on a boombox refused to turn it off.

Several opponents sat with their backs facing the commissioners. Their shirts featured slogans such as “Enbridge lap dogs.”

In a statement, Enbridge said it was “unfortunate that a small group of people derailed” the meeting. The Canadian-based company said the conditions that were up for discussion were intended to “protect Minnesotans.”

“We acknowledge that the process has been long and difficult and raised many passionate interventions. But what happened today crossed the line,” Enbridge said.

State Rep. Dan Fabian, a Roseau Republican who chairs the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, also criticized the protesters.

“Minnesota is better than this nonsense,” Fabian said in a statement. He called on Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration, the PUC and local law enforcement “to do whatever necessary to prevent disruptions like this from happening in the future.”

Line 3 runs from Alberta, Canada, across North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge wants to replace the line, which it built in the 1960s and is running at only about half its original capacity. The replacement would restore its original capacity. But Native American and environmental activists contend the new line risks spills in fragile areas.

By The Associated Press

[SOURCE]

‘Major Victory’: Landowner’s Legal Challenge Halts Construction of Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana

Faced with a new state law that effectively criminalized peaceful protests of pipelines, activists have put their bodies and freedom on the line to oppose the Bayou Bridge project in Louisiana. (Photo: L’eau Est La Vie Camp/Facebook)

By Jessica Corbett

In a “major victory” for local landowners and pipeline activists who are fighting to block the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana, the company behind the project agreed to halt construction on a patch of private property just ahead of a court hearing that was scheduled for Monday morning.

The path of the 163-mile pipeline runs through Atchafalaya Basin, the nation’s largest wetland and swamp. Local landowners and activists have raised alarm about the threat the pipeline poses to regional water resources, wildlife, and communities.

“We have been tased, pepper sprayed, put into choke holds, and beaten with batons to stop this illegal construction that ETP was carrying out despite not having an easement for the land.”  —L’eau Est La Vie Camp

Peter Aaslestad, one of several co-owners of undeveloped marshland, filed an injunction in July alleging that the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) was clearing trees and trenching on his property without permission. ETP—which is also behind the hotly contested Dakota Access Pipeline—claims it has the right to the use property through expropriation, a process used to take private land for public benefit.

Monday’s agreement “essentially gives us everything we would have asked for with [the injunction] request and argued for in our hearing,” Misha Mitchell, a lawyer for Aaslestad and Atchafalaya Basinkeeperexplained in a Facebook video. “The company has voluntarily agreed to cease entering onto the property and to stop all construction activities on the property.”

A court hearing for the expropriation battle is scheduled for Nov. 27, meaning the company will not meet its initial deadline of completing construction by October.

“This represents a significant victory for the conservation of the Atchafalaya Basin and for the rights of private landowners who lawfully resist their property being seized for private gain,” Aaslestad said in a statement.

A collective of activists fighting against the pipeline—who have created the L’eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life) floating resistance camp—celebrated the agreement as validation of their ongoing efforts to kill the project.

“We have been tased, pepper sprayed, put into choke holds, and beaten with batons to stop this illegal construction that ETP was carrying out despite not having an easement for the land,” the group wrote on Facebook Monday. “While this is a major victory, construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline continues in other parts of the Atchafalaya Basin. We won’t stop until completely shut down the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.”

Protests have continued even as state lawmakers have enacted legislation that effectively criminalizes peaceful protests of “critical infrastructure,” including pipeline projects. Last month, as Common Dreams reported, three kayaktivists who oppose Bayou Bridge were detained by private security, then arrested and charged with felonies under the new law.

The Times-Picayune reports that “at least 12 activists protesting the pipeline on Aaslestad’s property have been arrested” under the law, which took effect Aug. 1, but the district attorney “has not yet decided whether to prosecute the protesters.”

Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor who is volunteering as an attorney for the protesters, said they were all detained by private security before being arrested, explaining that “because they were on private property at the invitation of the owner, it’s not clear that [ETP] had any right to do what they were doing, or have people arrested.”

Published on September 10, 2018 by 

Teepees start to come down at Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp near Saskatchewan legislature

Tepees are seen at the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp near the Saskatchewan legislature, in Regina, in a June 27, 2018. (File photo CP)

Teepees are coming down at the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp on the grounds of the Saskatchewan legislature in Regina.

On Friday, Justice Ysanne Wilkinson ordered that the protest camp be dismantled after the government applied for an eviction order.

“Police are hereby authorized to arrest, or arrest and remove, any person” who is violating the order to vacate the camp, she said.

No deadline was specified in Wilkinson’s order to take the camp down.

The province went to court seeking an order to evict the protesters, arguing the camp violated bylaws and made it hard to maintain the land across from the legislature.

Regina police say they are now in talks with the government and protesters.

Fifteen teepees were standing in front of the Saskatchewan legislature building.

There had been 15 teepees in the camp at one point, but that number was down to 10 by Monday morning.

At least two of the tepees came down after the court order, while others were taken down for the annual Treaty 4 Gathering in Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask.

Protester Richelle Dubois says it’s disheartening to see the number of teepees shrink.

“It shows the province’s true colours and how they feel about First Nation children and communities,” she said.

Since late February, the campers have been protesting racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children in care.

The Canadian Press