Jane Fonda Tours Alberta Oil Sands, Urges Canada to Listen to First Nations

Actress Jane Fonda tours Alberta's oilsands ahead of a news conference with First Nations leaders about oilsands expansion plans, pipeline approvals and indigenous rights. Courtesy: Greenpeace Canada

Actress Jane Fonda tours Alberta’s oilsands ahead of a news conference with First Nations leaders about oilsands expansion plans, pipeline approvals and indigenous rights.
Courtesy: Greenpeace Canada

By Staff | The Canadian Press

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – Actor and longtime environmental activist Jane Fonda says Canada should listen to aboriginal people when they express concerns about resource development.

Fonda is in the oilsands hub of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta Tuesday to meet with local First Nations.

She says she backs their opposition to new pipeline development from the oilsands.

Fonda says she sympathizes with workers who are concerned about losing their jobs and supports the desire of some First Nations for greater prosperity.

But she says renewable energy developments offer much greater economic spinoffs than what she calls a fossil fuel industry on its way out.

Fonda is the latest in a long string of prominent people who have visited the oilsands, including musician Neil Young, Hollywood director James Cameron and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Greenpeace Canada will be holding an event Wednesday at the University of Alberta where Fonda will be among several speakers. They are expected to detail why they oppose the federal government’s approval of the Line 3 and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, as well as the possible approvals of the KeystoneXL and Energy East projects.

Greenpeace said the projects are in conflict with Canada’s commitments to Indigenous Rights, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Paris climate accord.

In 1970, Fonda was arrested while marching with indigenous people during the occupation of For Lawton in Seattle, Wash.

Greenpeace said First Nations leaders will join the Academy Award winner during Wednesday’s event.

[SOURCE]

Justin Trudeau’s Lofty Rhetoric On First Nations A Cheap Simulation Of Justice

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses after receiving a ceremonial headdress while visiting the Tsuut’ina First Nation near Calgary, Alberta, Friday, March 4, 2016. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) Photograph: Jeff McIntosh/AP

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses after receiving a ceremonial headdress while visiting the Tsuut’ina First Nation near Calgary, Alberta, Friday, March 4, 2016. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) Photograph: Jeff McIntosh/AP

An era of so-called reconciliation has disguised the continuation of Harper-era land and resource grabs

By  | The Guardian, September 19, 2016

By now, we all know the greatest priority of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is its relationship with Indigenous peoples. How could we miss the weekly reminders?

Trudeau graciously wrapping himself in ceremonial blankets. Hauling jugs of drinking water door-to-door on a northern reserve lacking portable water. Paddling the Ottawa river in his dad’s buckskin jacket and moccasins with Indigenous youth, after a sunrise ritual at dawn.

Welcome to the era of reconciliation, ushered in by a Prime Minister so different in appearance from his predecessors. Free of prejudices. Moved to tears by the country’s dark history. Committed to the need for deep, fundamental change.

Except this carefully scripted story, managed even more tightly than ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s, has long been unravelling.

It began with the fraying of Trudeau’s official platform. A legal order issued to the Liberals to end racial discrimination against Indigenous children? Repeatedly ignored. Compensation for 16,000 individuals snatched from their homes and adopted by non-Indigenous families in the Sixties Scoop? Opposed in court. And that historic budget for First Nations? Turned out most of the funds would flow only in 2020—after the next election. Not exactly the “new relationship” that Trudeau announced to rapturous international applause.

And then there’s what hasn’t made the headlines. In British Columbia, Quebec, the Atlantic provinces and elsewhere through Canada, there are scores of First Nations who have never signed away their Aboriginal title through treaties. For years they’ve wracked up debt while in negotiations with the government over lands sought after by mineral, forestry, hydro and oil companies. But as a pre-condition for any compensation, they’re forced to extinguish their rights to 9 out of every 10 parcels of their territory—rivers, forests, mountains, farmland, and everything underneath.

Fair to have expected a change under Trudeau? Instead the Liberals have given negotiators marching orders from a Harper-commissioned report that advises how to force through energy infrastructure. That’s because Indigenous rights stand in the way of pipelines, mega-dams like Site C, giant fracked gas terminals—and $650bn in resource projects over the next ten years that the Liberals are trumpeting as much as the Conservatives did.

Never mind that recent Supreme Court decisions, and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples before them, call for shared sovereignty or management over these lands. Or that many more Canadians are realizing that Indigenous stewardship of large swathes of territory—instead of its mismanagement by multi-national corporations—would be to the benefit of everyone.

Trudeau may indeed want to do right by Indigenous peoples, but the government is locked into a logic of its own: quietly maintaining exclusive control over Indigenous peoples’ lands and resources. Is this what Trudeau meant when he said his government would “think seven generations out”?

Turning the language of liberation into a contraption of conquest is nothing new: it’s part of Liberal heritage. In the early 1990s, as calls for Indigenous self-determination gained steam on the heels of widespread protest and the Oka crisis, the Liberals appeared to embrace the movement’s demand. They named their policy “the Inherent Right to Self-Government.”

Except this policy—still on the books—only grants First Nations rights such as policing, education, and the licensing of marriages; the government keeps all powers of trade, diplomacy and serious economic development and decision-making to themselves. No wonder Indigenous critics have said it turns First Nations into “ethnic municipalities”: it is nothing like a genuine third-order of government.

The Liberals latest utterances appear just as soothingly promising: “reconciliation,” “nation-to-nation,” even “decolonization.” The most slippery of all has been their use of “consent.” Though the Liberals have proclaimed their support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—at whose heart lies the right of “free, prior and informed consent”—they’ve been loathe to recognize it in practice on the ground.

It’s obvious why: the right of consent sends shudders through corporate boardrooms whose goodwill the Liberals covet. As an alternative, the government has wheeled out a hazy concept of “collaborative consent.” All that’s clear is it studiously avoids recognizing the actual right to say no to destructive resource projects. Indigenous feminists have underlined how this half-measure is hollow: whether it’s territories or bodies, if you don’t have the power to say no, then “consent” is meaningless.

The extractivist worldview—bent on treating everything as a commodity—that lay behind Stephen Harper’s resource agenda just as powerfully shapes Trudeau’s. In fact, the Liberals’ attempt to wrap themselves in the UN Declaration without embracing its central right may constitute a new, more subtle form of extraction: the extraction from Indigenous territory of consent itself.

Liberal moves to extract and manufacture consent and support for outdated policies are evident elsewhere: restoring funding to the Assembly of First Nations, a government-dependent organization that has since plumped frequently for them; appointing an Indigenous Justice Minister, even though Indigenous critics argue she has sided with the government agenda throughout her political career; and agreeing to call an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, but with a mandate far short of what impacted families wanted. As the weight of reality presses against Trudeau’s rhetoric, the ability to generate consent is crumbling.

Reconciliation is a powerful hope, an uplifting prospect, a deeply desired new relationship that Trudeau has compellingly invoked. But if reconciliation does not include the restitution of land, the recognition of real self-government, the reigning in of abusive police, the remediation of rivers and forests, it will remain a vacant notion, a cynical ploy to preserve a status quo in need not of tinkering but transformation. It will be Canada’s latest in beads and trinkets, a cheap simulation of justice.

The good news is that Indigenous peoples have never been more poised to push Trudeau from mere words to deeds. Idle No More left a profound imprint: a more readily mobilized Indigenous population and a far larger non-Indigenous reservoir of support. An influential presence on social media, a growing force in art and culture, Indigenous peoples are leveraging Supreme Court precedents and trying to rebuild their economies and nations.

They have endured too much to be satisfied with Trudeau attending a pow wow, flashing a Haida tattoo on his arm, or calling for yet another consultation and study. If Canadians are willing to do their part, Indigenous peoples can test Trudeau’s lofty rhetoric the most effective way possible: in the crucible of a rising movement.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2016/sep/19/justin-trudeaus-lofty-rhetoric-on-first-nations-a-cheap-simulation-of-justice

 

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