‘We want to be owners’: Fort McMurray First Nations and Métis unite on pipelines

The Fort McMurray regions’s 10 First Nations and Métis community say they want to be pipeline owners. (Terray Sylvester/Reuters)

‘Let’s move on and let’s start building a pipeline and start moving the oil’

First Nations and Métis communities in the Fort McMurray region are expressing interest in becoming business partners in the pipeline industry.

The indigenous communities want to either buy a stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline or partner and build another future line.

“We want to be owners of a pipeline,” Allan Adam, chief of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said in an interview. “We think that a pipeline is a critical component to the oil and gas sector, especially in this region.”

“If Fort McMurray and Alberta are going to survive, the Athabasca Tribal Council has to be alongside.”

Adam, a board member with the Athabasca Tribal Council, an umbrella organization that represents the regions’s five First Nations, admitted, the details still need to be worked out.

Ron Quintal, president of the Athabasca River Métis, the organization that represents five Métis communities in the region, confirms it too is on board with the proposal.

But, Quintal said, he expects they would need backers to help guarantee loans to help fund the multi-billion dollar project.

Tired of fighting oil companies

The announcement happened on the heels of the groups’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the basement of a Fort McMurray hotel on Friday.

Participants say it was the first time region’s Cree, Dene and Métis communities met together with the head of the federal government. Typically such high level meetings don’t take place together.

Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, says the Fort McMurray region’s First Nation and Métis communities back pipelines and they want to own one. (The Canadian Press)

Also in the background is the uncertainty over the fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion which would ship bitumen from Alberta to the B.C. coast.

On Sunday, Kinder Morgan announced it will halt “non-essential activities” and related spending on the project and set a May 31 deadline to decide whether the project will proceed. The company declined to comment for this story.

Premier Rachel Notley said the May deadline is a serious concern and suggested Alberta may become a co-owner in the pipeline’s construction.

The announcement from Adam is a change in position for the chief who is no stranger to pipeline opposition. The chief has posed with celebrities and activists critical of the oilsands’ environmental legacy.

Most recently, Adam was pictured with Hollywood actress Jane Fonda who described the oilsands on a 2016 trip to Fort McMurray as if “someone took my skin and peeled it off my body over a very large surface.”

Adam denied he was ever anti-pipeline or against the oilsands, rather the chief said he is critical of the feverish pace the oilsands developed without environmental considerations.

But, Adam also admitted fighting oil companies and industry has been tough and it’s time for a change.

“The fact is I am tired. I am tired of fighting. We have accomplished what we have accomplished,” Adam said. “Now let’s move on and let’s start building a pipeline and start moving the oil that’s here already.”

Archie Waquan, chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, also supports a pipeline partnership.

“No disrespect to the other First Nations that are against the pipeline in B.C.,” Waquan said.

“From our end — from this northern territory where the oilsands comes from — we would like to see more things happen and hopefully this will go ahead.”

Ultimately we are the keepers of the land

The region’s Métis communities say their Indigenous pipeline ownership would help alleviate the roadblocks the oil and gas infrastructure have been facing lately.

Elaborating, Quintal said, First Nations and Métis would provide ease of access for the pipeline route on their traditional territory.

Also, he said, Indigenous owners would take the upmost care to ensure the pipeline route would avoid sacred or sensitive areas and the infrastructure is maintained to the highest standards to prevent spills.

Chiefs and heads of the Athabasca Tribal Council and the Athabasca River Métis Council pose after a meeting Tuesday at Fort McMurray’s Raddison Hotel where they announced they are willing invest in pipelines. (David Thurton/CBC)

“From our perspective, the Métis have always for the most part been pro-pipeline,” Quintal said. But, “I am not saying that it’s an open book or a blank cheque for the industry to develop pipelines.”

“Ultimately we are the keepers of the land and it is of the upmost importance that lands are protected as much as possible.”

Quintal also said, Indigenous owners behind a pipeline, might also lend credibility that could quell some of the opposition.

This article was originally published by David Thurton  · CBC News · Posted: Apr 15, 2018

RELATED:

[SOURCE]

Advertisements

‘Eco-Colonialism’: Rift Grows Between Indigenous Leaders and Green Activists

Martin Louie, the hereditary chief of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation.

Indigenous communities say they’ve had enough of activists invading their lands, misleading them about their agendas and using hard-line tactics against those who don’t agree

With flowing long hair, stoic expression and tribal garb, Martin Louie, the hereditary chief of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation in north-central British Columbia, more than looked and acted the part of an aggrieved leader in the epic fight against the Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.

He was quoted in the campaign’s news releases, filed complaints to the United Nations and spoke defiantly to investors. Environmental group Stand.earth even described him as the “poster boy” for Indigenous opposition to Enbridge Inc.’s pipeline.

The $7-billion pipeline was eventually cancelled last year, but Louie didn’t actually want to sink the project. Lost in the heat of the public battle was that he really just wanted to win more money for his impoverished community than the “ridiculous” $70,000 a year being offered by the company.

Louie’s experience is indicative of a widening rift between Indigenous communities and activists over natural resources, particularly in British Columbia, the focal point of major green campaigns generously funded by U.S. interests to thwart oil and gas exports.

The campaigns consistently portray a united Indigenous anti-development front and allies of the green movement, but some Indigenous leaders are becoming alarmed that they could be permanently frozen out of the mainstream economy if resource projects don’t go ahead.

They said in interviews they’ve had enough of activists invading their lands, misleading them about their agendas, recruiting token members to front their causes, sowing mistrust and conflict, and using hard-line tactics against those who don’t agree.

“The best way to describe it is eco-colonialism,” said Ken Brown, a former chief of the Klahoose First Nation in southwestern B.C. “You are seeing a very pervasive awakening among these First Nations leaders about what is going on in the environmental community.”

For instance, Louie is now one of the leaders of the proposed $17-billion Eagle Spirit pipeline, a Northern Gateway alternative championed by First Nations.

“When I went after Enbridge we were trying to gain more benefits for major projects going through our country,” he said.

Word soon got out about his differences with Enbridge and he was approached by a handful of lawyers representing green organizations who promised him assistance and funding, Louie recalled.

Their partnership ended bitterly because the two sides had conflicting objectives. He wanted better benefits; the activists wanted the project to fail.

The eventual failure of Northern Gateway was just one of a series of tipping points in recent months that worry some Indigenous leaders.

There was also the demise of Pacific NorthWest LNG and Aurora LNG, as well as the continuing challenges faced by the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and other proposed LNG projects. These cancellations and obstacles are celebrated by activists, but also wiped out jobs and revenue for First Nations.

Calvin Helin is chairman and president of the proposed Eagle Spirit pipeline, conceived and backed by First Nations groups and individuals.

Eagle Spirit also faces difficulties. Led by Indigenous lawyer Calvin Helin and supported by First Nations along the proposed route through northern B.C., the project will collapse if the federal government goes ahead with a tanker ban that is making its way through Parliament.

The ban is related to the Great Bear Rainforest, which was created by the B.C. government last year to conserve a big part of the province’s northern and central coast.

Both initiatives are seen by greens as big achievements, but are disputed by First Nations such as the Lax Kw’alaams, who said they were advanced without proper consultation and prevent their members from making a living.

Brown’s experience with environmental activism started about a decade ago, when he was chief of his tribe and supported two run-of-river hydro projects.

The projects were attacked by groups such as Save Our Rivers and Western Canada Wilderness Committee for being harmful to fish habitat, and Brown’s band was criticized for being “sellouts and socially irresponsible people looking for the quick buck,” he said.

“What an onslaught it was. There was a high level of participation from people who had never been to the region … and they were all conveying the same narrative: ‘The sky is falling, keep your blood money, corporations are evil.’”

Brown, who now runs a consulting company, said similar tactics are used against other projects, too.

“If First Nations communities are willing to conform to the prescribed eco-narratives, they are going to get all kinds of accolades and praise, but if they don’t conform, it’s vitriolic hit pieces on these people,” he said.

Louie is still shaken by the backlash he experienced. After complaining to activists they were only using him to advance their cause, he said he was blackballed.

“Workers were spreading the word that I am not a good man, that I am there to ruin the environment, that I am making money on my own,” he said. “They were making me sound like I am taking millions from a lot of people. If I was in that position, I wouldn’t be struggling to pay for my car payments.”

Louie said he joined the Eagle Spirit project to achieve what he couldn’t with Northern Gateway: help his tribe become economically self-reliant.

Martin Louie in 2012 leading a protest against Enbridge Inc’s Northern Gateway pipeline.

They were making me sound like I am taking millions from a lot of people. If I was in that position, I would not be struggling to pay for my car payments – Martin Louie

Environmental organizations and Indigenous communities in recent years have found common cause in opposing some projects and in fighting the impacts of capitalism on the environment, said Dwight Newman, Canada research chair in Indigenous rights at the University of Saskatchewan.

A big reason is that Indigenous people have unique legal rights and by working with them, green groups are better able to block developments than if they relied on environmental grounds alone, he said.

Section 35 of Canada’s constitution states the Crown has a duty to consult with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and, where it anticipates adverse impacts, to accommodate to the extent reasonably possible.

So far, the law has been used against development, but one of the unknowns is whether Indigenous communities will use it to pursue economic development and override the environmental laws that block projects such as Eagle Spirit, Newman said.

“At some point, these arguments will end up in the courts, either directly as rights claims or as claims that there ought to have been consultation on potential effects on such rights,” Newman said in an article for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, where he is a senior fellow.

“And the very presence of these arguments will overturn the expectations of many who think they have liberal views, but actually have ongoing paternalistic views that assume First Nations always need protection from development.”

And the very presence of these arguments will overturn the expectations of many who think they have liberal views, but actually have ongoing paternalistic views that assume First Nations always need protection from developmentDwight Newman

Many conservation campaigns rely on U.S. funds because there is more money available there due to tax laws and an abundance of wealthy philanthropists.

Vancouver-based researcher and blogger Vivian Krause has tallied the large sums poured by U.S. groups to fight pipelines and gas projects in Canada by analyzing tax filings.

The biggest funder has been the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which has granted more than $190 million to First Nations, environmental and other organizations working in B.C., Krause said.

The top recipient of funds from the Moore Foundation is Tides Canada, which received at least $70 million, she said. Tides Canada spends that money internally and re-grants it to other groups, particularly First Nations organizations.

Other big U.S.-based funders are the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts.

“These American interests are trying to stop these projects any way they can, and one of the best ways is by leveraging the constitutional rights of First Nations in the courts,” Krause said.

The former United Nations worker said she pursued the research because of pleas for help from Indigenous leaders “who want jobs and social and economic prosperity (and) are sick and tired of what they call the paid protesters.”

One of those leaders is Gary Alexcee, a hereditary chief of the Nisga’a Nation near Alaska, and a member of Eagle Spirit’s Chiefs Council. He’s disappointed the federal government is giving more weight to environmentalists than to the needs of Indigenous communities.

“We were totally taken aback and surprised by the announcement of this tanker ban because of the government’s statement that they were going to include First Nations,” he said. “No one got consulted.”

Eagle Spirit would create jobs and opportunities “that people never had” in a region where other industries such as fishing, forestry and eco-tourism are doing badly, he said.

Gary Alexcee, a hereditary chief of the Nisga’a Nation near Alaska.

Alexcee, 70, said many in his community don’t support green campaigns. He said activists have come to the region in big numbers and picked “token” members to advance their causes.

Relations between activists and Indigenous people got really ugly in nearby Prince Rupert, in the territory of the Lax Kw’alaams.

The community was initially opposed to a liquefied natural gas project proposed by a consortium led by Malaysia’s Petronas because of its location on Lelu Island, which they believed would threaten juvenile salmon.

They became supporters after negotiating bigger benefits and getting the project to re-locate.

But a small group of opponents continued to protest. Their frontman was Donnie Wesley, who claimed to be a hereditary chief and led an occupation of the site. That opened the door for activists to come in and offer band members funds and assistance to defeat a high-profile target, said Mayor John Helin.

Dozens of “professional protesters” travelled to the area from as far away as California with funding from groups such as SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, which, in turn, was getting money from Tides and the Moore Foundation.

“More or less, they called me a traitor,” Helin said.

Everybody said they hated me for working for Enbridge, you are the enemy, you are a traitor – Ray Jones

Petronas pulled the plug on the $36-billion venture this summer, which meant $2 billion in benefits over 40 years for the band were lost.

The Lax Kw’alaams chided Wesley for misrepresenting himself as a hereditary leader. The dispute over who represented the community ended up in court. Wesley lost and is appealing.

Greg Knox, executive director of Terrace, B.C.-based SkeenaWild, said there is a wide range of perspectives in Indigenous communities and while some may feel they lost opportunity when Petronas cancelled its LNG project, others were relieved because salmon were no longer threatened.

“This project was proposed for a terrible location,” Knox said. Many other LNG projects were also proposed, but “this was the only one that people were concerned about and there was big opposition to.”

His group also campaigned against Northern Gateway and supports the tanker ban, he said, but doesn’t have a position on Eagle Spirit yet because it doesn’t have enough information.

Stand.earth brags on its website that it has delayed or stopped 21 “dirty oil pipelines and train projects.” But it relied on Will George, a member of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, to confront Kinder Morgan Canada chief executive Ian Anderson at a recent Vancouver Board of Trade event promoting the $7.4-billion expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

“I do not welcome you onto my territory. You are not welcome on my lands, and you certainly cannot be doing business here without Tsleil-Waututh consent,” George said, according to a statement distributed by the group.

“It’s really Indigenous nations protecting their land that allows us to win these fights,” said Stand.earth campaigner Hailey Zacks, noting 150 First Nations in Canada and the U.S. are opposed to the project.

For its part, Kinder Morgan said 42 directly impacted Indigenous communities are supportive of the pipeline expansion and have signed benefits agreements.

What I do know is that the communities that I work with are willing to do whatever it takes to stop it – Hailey Zacks, Stand.earth campaigner

Zacks couldn’t speak to that, but said, “What I do know is that the communities that I work with are willing to do whatever it takes to stop it.”

Haida Gwaii is one community known as a hostile place for development of all kinds — and for those who dare to promote it.

Hereditary chief Ray Jones, 66, was harshly castigated for doing consulting work for Northern Gateway, which would have included tankers sailing to and from Asia, potentially impacting the island.

A former captain in the fishing industry with intimate knowledge of the coast, the 66-year-old said he supported the shipment of oil and gas and any other work that promised desperately needed employment.

His contract job with Enbridge involved building communications between the island community and the company, he said.

But Jones was up against powerful forces. Haida Gwaii’s leadership worked closely with activists, he said, “a whole pile of them,” particularly from the David Suzuki Foundation, visited the area regularly and influenced the local population.

The foundation did not respond to an interview request.

The community was so close-minded about getting an alternative point of view, few even asked him what his job with Enbridge involved, Jones said.

“Everybody said they hated me for working for Enbridge, you are the enemy, you are a traitor,” he said. “I have two sisters who don’t talk to me. I have had people call me the village clown, a lot of derogatory things. I’ve had my tires slashed, I’ve had somebody key my car. It’s ugly.”

The same attitude has killed other jobs, pushing young people away and leaving the rest with nothing to improve their lot, he said.

“I always tell my grand children, get a damn good education because I don’t know what you kids are in for in your life,” Jones said. “We lived in a good time.”

By: Claudia Cattaneo – Jan 4, 2018.

[SOURCE]

Reader Submission 

N.D. Oil and Gas Division Questioned About Deleting Potentially Valuable Emails

BISMARCK, N.D. – An attorney for landowners in the Bakken found potentially valuable information in deleted folders at the state’s energy regulation agency.

Now he’s speaking out. ​

Derrick Braaten filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division to see how many emails they delete.

In a two-week period in early May last year, nearly 39,000 emails were in delete folders.

About 7,000 emails went through a three-step process of being deleted forever or purged.

Still, state officials say they did nothing wrong.

While spills are an unfortunate side-effect of oil development, some say oil companies aren’t doing their part to avoid as much damage as possible.

“They’re abusing the land. They’re abusing the right to be on that land and the ultimate person that’s going to pay for it is the landowner,” said Former Rep. Kenton Onstad, D-Parshall.

Representative Onstad’s email concerning a well pad’s construction was among those deleted. However, the Oil and Gas Division maintained the inspector’s notes on that site in the department’s records.

“Be it our internal servers, our well files, our case files, so it’s going to be retained in the agency. So, just because the email’s gone, doesn’t mean the information is gone,” said Alison Ritter, Oil and Gas Division.

Ritter says information is stored in a variety of places on the division’s servers.

“It is the most difficult agency in the state to work with on getting records and it’s a continual problem,” said Derrick Braaten, landowner’s attorney.

Braaten filed the open records request and found landowner complaints, dumpsite pictures and emails with industry leaders marked for deletion. He feared documents that could be valuable for his clients were ending up in the trash.

“It’s difficult to even frame a request for information to get that because in my opinion they make it intentionally difficult to get at those records,” said Braaten.

“We’re an open book. If you want to know something, or if you have a question or you want to request something, absolutely ask me and we’ll provide it to you,” said Ritter.

Braaten says the department should have more information readily available. He says the department should also be more forthcoming on where records can be found in the system.

KFYR-TV looked into several of the deleted emails, to see what records remained in the department, including one with pictures sent in that were deleted.

Ritter says the illegal dump site in the pictures wasn’t under Oil and Gas’s jurisdiction, so there are no inspector notes and agency didn’t keep the submitted pictures.

The inspector did, however, keep these pictures he took when he inspected the site.

[SOURCE]

Trans Mountain Fight ‘Going to Be Ugly,’ Says Industry Veteran at Edmonton Oil, Gas Conference

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project’s Westeridge loading dock is seen in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, Nov. 25, 201When the shovels hit the ground, my belief is there’s going to be an uprising in Burnaby6. Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS

When the shovels hit the ground, my belief is there’s going to be an uprising in Burnaby

  • by Jonny Wakefield | May 22, 2017

Expect an “uprising” in B.C.’s Lower Mainland over Trans Mountain to further complicate Justin Trudeau’s pipeline policy, an energy industry leader told an Edmonton oil-and-gas conference Friday.

“When the shovels hit the ground, my belief is there’s going to be an uprising in Burnaby, etcetera, and it’s going to be ugly,” said Bruce Robertson, an oil-and-gas industry veteran and chairman of the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada. “And Trudeau et al. have got to make a decision (on) whether and how he flexes his muscle to get this thing approved.”

Pipeline politics, looming NAFTA renegotiations and Canada’s place in an increasingly uncertain energy world were among the topics discussed at Energy Visions, an annual conference organized by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) aimed at parsing trends in global energy markets.

Those markets are increasingly chaotic. After years of relatively stable energy geopolitics “now it feels hard to plan for the next two to three years with any certainty,” said PwC panel moderator Reynold Tetzlaff.

Pipeline politics

The fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would more than double capacity on an existing Edmonton to Burnaby route, is an open question after a B.C. election that has the pro-pipeline Liberals courting the upstart Greens in a bid to cling to power.

Robert Johnston, CEO of the Eurasia Group, said two of the proposed pipelines — including Trans Mountain, Energy East and Keystone XL — would satisfy demand for capacity.

He said that Trudeau jeopardized his party’s seats in B.C.’s Lower Mainland by approving TransMountain, making U.S. President Donald Trump’s Keystone approval an unlikely godsend for the Liberals.

“Trump moving forward with Keystone actually helps Trudeau avoid a very politically problematic move on Energy East in Quebec that could really split the Liberal party.”

If neither Keystone or TransMountain are built, Trudeau’s move to reform the National Energy Board is a “hedge” to shore up confidence in the regulatory process for Energy East.

“Trudeau feels like you’re going to need a very robust and transparent process, and probably a long one, if you ever want to get Energy East built,” he said.

If it ain’t broke…

The Trump administration’s move this week to trigger NAFTA negotiations could mean changes in how oil and gas flows across North America.

Or it could mean nothing.

Sarah Ladislaw, who specializes in energy and national security at the Center for Strategic & International Studies based in Washington, D.C., said the industry will be careful not to overplay its hand as negotiators open up the 1994 trade deal.

“I haven’t seen enough evidence that there’s going to be a lot of innovation on the energy portions of NAFTA,” she said. “I think that the strategy is not to do any harm.”

The industry might pursue an integrated model like the European Union, Johnston said, where “barrels and molecules can flow from Spain to Germany without too much restriction.”

“I think that could be an interesting discussion as we update NAFTA,” he said.

But Ladislaw said energy could be used as “trade bait” if negotiations start to go south in higher priority areas like agriculture.

“We want to leave (energy) out of other parts of the trade agreements that may be more problematic,” she said. “I think there’s still a reluctance to open up NAFTA too widely, because the question is can you put it back together again.”

Article written by Jonny Wakefield and originally posted in the Edmonton Sun on May 19, 2017

[SOURCE]

West of Standing Rock, the Blackfeet Win their own Fight for Sacred Land

These sculptures can be found at the entry to the reservation near East Glacier. Credit: Martina Nolte/Creative Commons CC-by-sa-3.0 de

These sculptures can be found at the entry to the reservation near East Glacier. Credit: Martina Nolte/Creative Commons CC-by-sa-3.0 de

By Graison Dangor | PRI · Dec 12, 2016

As the Standing Rock Sioux celebrate halting, for now at least, the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, another Native American nation is also seeing a victory regarding its holy lands.

The federal government has now canceled 15 oil and gas leases on land revered by the Blackfeet Nation. The Badger-Two Medicine area includes 168,000 acres in Montana, southwest of the Blackfeet reservation and to the south of Glacier National Park.

The government’s recent move caps two years of intense negotiations among the Blackfeet, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, US Sen. Jon Tester from Montana and Devon Energy — which owned the leases but had never drilled.

Blackfeet leaders consider these oil and gas leases, spread over 30,000 acres, to have been granted illegally in 1982.

“The federal government didn’t consult the tribe,” said Tyson Running Wolf, secretary of the Blackfeet Tribal Council. “They didn’t follow their own process on how to involve Blackfeet people on land that we still feel is owned by the Blackfeet themselves.

“We have documented historical data that we’ve been here for 10,000 years or longer.”

Badger-Two Medicine “includes a lot of our cultural, spiritual areas for the Blackfeet people,” Running Wolf said. He said a number of rivers are vulnerable to potential malfunctions of oil or gas equipment.

But despite the recent action by the federal government, the Blackfeet’s fight against development is not over. Running Wolf said two companies — the identities of which are unknown and being investigated by the tribe — continue to hold leases to develop an additional 11,000 acres of land.

It is just as important to stop those remaining leases as it was to cancel the first 15, he said. Until that happens, the whole area is still compromised, he added.

In the longer term, the Blackfeet want to have a larger say in decisions affecting the Badger-Two Medicine area, as co-managers of the land, said Running Wolf. Right now, the land is managed by the US Forest Service as part of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest.

“We want to be sitting at the table,” Running Wolf said. “We would like to put back to the two most important things on the landscape and that’s the buffalo and the Blackfeet.”

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood.

http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-12-12/west-standing-rock-blackfeet-win-their-own-fight-sacred-land

First Nations Deeply Involved In Natural Resource Development

First Nations Benefits and Opportunities

First Nations Benefits and Opportunities: Chevron

Report commissioned by the Indian Resource Council finds First Nations are deeply involved in natural resource development.

The Canadian Press | June 22, 2016

Canada’s First Nations have a stake worth hundreds of millions of dollars in resource industry development and are likely to call more of the industry’s shots in the future, concludes a research paper.

“There is not going to be a very substantial expansion of the resource sector in Canada without full partnerships with indigenous Canadians,” said Ken Coates of the University of Saskatchewan.

Coates wrote the report for the Indian Resource Council, an aboriginal group that represents First Nations oil and gas producers.

Coates notes that aboriginal opinion on new energy, pipeline and mineral projects reflects the same splits in the rest of Canada.

He writes while many “connected to broader environmental and climate change protesters” oppose such developments, others welcome well-regulated proposals.

Coates cites several examples of bands that have prospered. Saskatchewan’s Meadow Lake Tribal Council controls companies that earn up to $80 million and employ nearly 200 aboriginals through work with uranium mines.

Alberta’s Onion Lake band owns 400 oil wells that pumped 14,000 barrels in 2014.

Gerald Amos, Chair of Friends of Wild Salmon, speaks as BC First Nations Leaders come together to voice their rejections for the Petronas' Pacific Northwest LNG project during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Gerald Amos, Chair of Friends of Wild Salmon, speaks as BC First Nations Leaders come together to voice their rejections for the Petronas’ Pacific Northwest LNG project during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Other First Nations have taken equity positions in projects proposed for their traditional lands, such as the 35 per cent ownership share offered B.C.’s Haisla band in the Kitimat LNG plan. The band sold the option and reinvested the money.

Coates writes, however, that owning service businesses and equity stakes has not yet brought much in the way of control.

“Equity ownership rarely includes First Nations representation on the corporate board of governors,” he said.

As well, aboriginal equity in the resource sector is dwarfed by the amount of money in play. Suncor, Canada’s largest energy firm, is worth nearly $43 billion.

But companies – driven by a series of legal judgments – are slowly accepting the need to include aboriginals earlier and earlier in the process, said Coates.

“The known rules now include First Nations and indigenous engagement. Any company that wants to do business in Canada should know now that early involvement of the indigenous population is the only way to go.”

Representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, as well as those from a number of bands contacted by The Canadian Press, were celebrating National Aboriginal Day and not available for comment.

Coates’s report comes as Canada debates projects such as pipelines that cross many First Nations communities.

Reformed environmental approval “at the highest level possible” would go a long way toward reigniting those stalled projects, Coates suggests. So would a set of federal-provincial-First Nations financial agreements.

Sharing resource revenues with aboriginal governments is increasingly widespread. In the three northern territories, Coates said, it’s already the law and is likely to become standard practice.

Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall leads the only province that actively opposes resource-revenue sharing.

Coates said it’s a mistake to think aboriginals are automatically opposed to resource development. He said Canada has a chance to bring its resources to market with the consent and full participation of First Nations.

“The way it’s going to go is real, substantial sustained partnerships,” he said. “This is the way of the future.”

http://www.bnn.ca/News/2016/6/22/First-Nations-a-growing-influence-in-resource-industry-development-Study.aspx

Amnesty International Investigates Murdered And Missing Indigenous Women In B.C.

Every year, people in Fort St John march through the streets and remember missing and murdered loved ones. (Fort St John Sisters in Spirit/Facebook)

Every year, people in Fort St John march through the streets and remember missing and murdered loved ones. (Fort St John Sisters in Spirit/Facebook)

CBC News

MLA condemns tragedy, says violence not specific to his region or to indigenous women

Amnesty International Canada is wrapping up a human rights investigation in northeastern B.C. and the human rights group says it’s alarmed by violence against aboriginal women amidst industrial development in the region.

Investigators just wrapped up a fact finding mission in Fort St. John on Friday. Amnesty women’s rights campaigner Jacqueline Hansen — who is based in Ottawa — has been meeting with as many people as she can.

She says a local aboriginal woman first alerted Amnesty to a growing list of women from the region who’d been murdered or gone missing. It includes local woman Cynthia Maas, who was taken from the streets of Prince George and murdered by convicted serial killer Cody Legebokoff.

“For the size of the community and the length of the list … there’s something going on,” said Hansen. “We’re trying to understand the patterns that have led so many women to go missing or be murdered from this relatively small northern community.”

It may be difficult for Canadians to understand why Amnesty is focusing on a local community, Hansen acknowledged.

Amnesty International Jacqueline Hansen

Amnesty International’s Jacqueline Hansen traveled from Ottawa to Fort St John to investigate violence against women in the Peace. “We’ve failed to take concrete action to deal with this crisis,” she says. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC)

“The right to live free from violence is a core fundamental human right. Rights violations don’t just happen out there overseas. They’re happening in our backyard, and in northern British Columbia.”

Amnesty is especially concerned about violence against indigenous women during rapid industrial development in the region, Hansen said.

“What are the impacts of large scale natural resource developments of oil and gas, mines, Site C, LNG? We’re not just interested in how these projects affect plants and animals. We’re interested in how they affect people.”

Research already shows a link between the influx of transient work forces and higher levels of violence against women, according to Amnesty.

North Peace MLA Pat Pimm said he was not aware of Amnesty International’s investigation, but he welcomes their interest. However, he said the problem of missing and murdered women is not confined to his region, and is about all women, whether aboriginal or not.

Amnesty International Canada will make its research public in the spring of 2016, it said.

It’s the second time in recent years that international human rights groups have launched investigations in northern BC.

In 2012, Human Rights Watch investigators travelled northern B.C.’s so called “Highway of Tears”  and released a report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Policing.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/missing-women-amnesty-international-1.3281541?cmp=rss

For Florida Indian Tribes, Everglades Bike Path A Threat

Emily Kluga, a volunteer with the National Park Service, hunts for Northern African rock pythons and other non-native snakes in the Florida Everglades on January 29, 2015. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY

Emily Kluga, a volunteer with the National Park Service, hunts for Northern African rock pythons and other non-native snakes in the Florida Everglades on January 29, 2015. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY

BY VICTORIA BEKIEMPIS | NEWSWEEK

Since childhood, Betty Osceola has lived in her ancestral homeland: the Everglades in Florida. Members of the Miccosukee tribe, Osceola and her family maintain as many traditions as possible–such as living in chickee huts, thatched-roof homes made of cypress wood and cabbage palm leaves.

Of course, South Florida’s steady development since the mid-1950s has encroached on their lands and culture. Growing up, Osceola and her siblings swam in the River of Grass, fishing for bluegill and bass; she says the water has become so polluted they can no longer eat from it more than once a week.

“Now we can’t live off the land like we used to,” Osceola, 47, says.

She and other indigenous people in and near the Everglades also worry about what they see as another threat to their environment and way of life that, ironically, has been billed as green: a paved bike path between Naples and Miami.

That proposed trail, the River of Grass Greenway (ROGG), would run alongside U.S. 41. The 76-mile ROGG would be some 12 to 14 feet wide, according to the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department.

Opponents and local media have pointed out that the ROGG would course through “six national and state parks as well as protected wetlands, critical habitat, across two native reservations and a World Heritage Site.” Some preliminary ideas for the ROGG include the construction of at least five trailheads that would feature parking and picnic areas. A final “Feasibility Study and Master Plan Report” is expected to be released in several months, according to several reports.

Osceola and other ROGG opponents worry the path and trailheads would place further stress on the fragile environment, as well as harm indigenous cultural heritage. Activists tell Newsweek they also worry the ROGG would help oil and gas prospectors, who have expressed interest in exploring the Everglades, gain access to the environmentally sensitive area.

“Many of our ancestors are laid to rest in the Everglades,” Osceola says. “This isn’t just a bike path out in the middle of nowhere that’s not going to affect anyone.”

On Sunday, Betty Osceola, along with indigenous leaders Bobby C. Billie and Houston Cypress and their allies, will lead ROGG opponents on a five-day protest march along the proposed bike route.

Asked about environmental and cultural concerns, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department said:

“This study is a preliminary analysis of the feasibility of developing a bicycle and pedestrian path, primarily within the U.S. 41 road right-of-way, from Miami to Naples, Florida. This effort has included extensive public involvement of which the Everglades People have been integrally involved. The proposed trail is not intended to encroach into tribal lands. Great effort has been made to insure that the trail is entirely within the road right-of-way for the identified culturally significant areas. The intent of the study is to alleviate impacts to the environment currently being experienced by the State and National Parks in the area and provide an alternative to automobile dependence to accessing the parks. No part of this study is intended to promote development nor does it in any way analyze or allow for oil or gas exploration.”

Canadian Government Pushing First Nations To Give Up Land Rights For Oil And Gas Profits

A rally against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia, Canada, in November, 2014. Photograph: Mark Klotz/flickr

A rally against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia, Canada, in November, 2014. Photograph: Mark Klotz/flickr

By Martin Lukacs | The Guardian

Harper government organized private meetings between oil firms and Indigenous chiefs to try and gain support for oil and gas pipelines and other investments located on their lands, documents reveal

The Harper government is trying to win support for its pipelines and resource agenda by pushing First Nations to sideline their aboriginal rights in exchange for business opportunities, documents reveal.

The news that Canada’s Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs is working to this end by collaborating with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is sparking strong criticism from grassroots Indigenous people.

Funded by the federal government, the Working Group on Natural Resource Development held private meetings in Toronto and Edmonton in the fall of 2014 that were attended by several invited Chiefs and representatives from Enbridge, Syncrude and other oil corporations, as well as mining companies and business lobby groups.

In one email, a government official writes that it was “widely agreed” at the meetings that “unlocking resource development projects is squarely in the national interest,” a suggestion that will be contested by many First Nations involved in mounting protests against pipelines and other industrial projects around the country.

It was “noted repeatedly” that “we can no longer afford the investment uncertainty created by issues around Aboriginal participation,” the official writes. The transcripts of the meetings were redacted in the documents, which were obtained through access-to-information.

The documents cite $600 billion of investment that the Harper government hopes will flow in the next decade into mining, forestry, gas and oil projects. As of March 2013, 94 of 105 projects under federal review were “located on reserve, within an historic treaty area, or in a settled or unsettled claims area”.

In response to these pressures, considerations for the groups’ mandate include “reducing uncertainty and investment risk” and “advancing business-to-business partnerships rather than through a rights-based agenda.”

The federal government has been criticized for trying to minimize or ignore the land rights of First Nations, including refusing to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It has been doing extensive risk evaluations, increasingly worried that the growing power of indigenous rights could hamper its aggressive resource extraction plans.

One document suggests that “case studies have shown that separating rights-based agenda (politics) from economic development (business) is key to wealth generation in First Nations communities.”

The case studies cited from “expert bodies” include a Fraser Institute report entitled “Opportunities for First Nations Prosperity Through Oil and Gas Development.” The right-wing think tank has been heavily funded by the American Koch brothers, who are one of the largest owners, purchasers and refiners of the Alberta tar sands.

Also referenced is a report by envoy Douglas Eyford, whose appointment by Harper in late 2013 was seen as strategic shift to increasingly woo First Nations in the path of planned pipelines in British Columbia with an economic stake in resource plans. Eyford warned that the federal government’s failure to build good relationships with First Nations had set back the chances for their energy projects.

“Opposition to these projects by aboriginal groups may doom the development of oil, and natural gas pipelines and related infrastructure because neither industry nor our trading partners are prepared to idly stand by to wait out the results of judicial proceedings that can take a generation to complete,” Eyford said in a speech last year.

“The Harper government and resource corporations are keenly aware that Indigenous rights movements are standing in the way of their polluting, destructive projects,” said Clayton Thomas Mueller, Indigenous Extreme EnergyCampaigner with 350.org. “Harper is desperately trying to manipulate the Assembly of First Nations and some of our Chiefs into sacrificing our rights and our lands at the altar of profit. But respect for our rights must be a basis for economic decision-making – indeed our rights offer a pathway to a more sustainable economic order for everyone in this country.”

The group was launched in December 2013, its creation among the pledges made by Prime Minister Harper at a January 2013 meeting with former National Chief Shawn Atleo, a meeting triggered by Theresa Spence’s hunger strike and the Idle No More movement.

It has two representatives from the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and two from the Assembly of First Nations, an organization which has been accused of being out of touch with grassroots Indigenous concerns. According to the documents, the representatives discussed renaming the group to “downplay” the connection between the Assembly of First Nations and the government and to make clear that it operates at “arms-length.”

The documents acknowledge that Indigenous community members are increasingly resisting those Chiefs who “try to establish and advance a “business to business” relationship with industry proponents.”

Included are detailed charts of economic opportunities that some First Nations located near oil and mining operations have been able to access.

The documents say that the group may propose that Canada’s largest corporate lobby, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, be “engaged to champion a new approach including through formal statements at First Minister’s Meetings or major political events.”

Other suggestions include a “centre of expertise on resource development” and a national roundtable, emphasizing the need to get more aboriginal organizations involved.

The group is releasing a final report on Tuesday with recommendations to the federal government and the AFN.

The Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs was unable to respond to a request for comment.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2015/mar/03/documents-harper-pushing-first-nations-to-shelve-rights-buy-into-resource-rush

Nunavut artist refuses to perform for MP Leona Aglukkaq

Lucy Tulugarjuk, performs an Inuit drum dance. Photo: Meagan Wohlberg
Lucy Tulugarjuk, performs an Inuit drum dance.
Photo: Meagan Wohlberg

Aug 08, 2014

An artist has refused to perform for Nunavut’s Member of Parliament, Leona Aglukkaq.

Nunavut’s Lucy Tulugarjuk was asked to throat sing and drum dance during Aglukkaq’s upcoming visit to Fort Smith, N.W.T., where the artist is currently living.

But she said she’s not pleased with Aglukkaq. She said the MP has not addressed the concerns from Nunavummiut over seismic testing.

Some Inuit in Nunavut are furious over the National Energy Board’s decision to approve an application to do seismic testing for oil and gas in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait off the east coast of Baffin Island.

They’re worried wildlife will leave the area.

Leona Aglukkaq

Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq is under pressure from constituents over environmental issues. (CBC)

Tulugarjuk said Aglukkaq should be standing up for her people, rather than taking orders from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“I thought it was important to share with Inuit fellows, my friends and family that I am against it also and I will speak against it, if I must, and in that protest I refuse to throat sing and drum dance,” Tulugarjuk said.

Tulugarjuk said a chief in Fort Smith asked her to perform, not Aglukkaq’s staff.

http://www.cbc.ca/1.2730755