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Council of Canadians expresses solidarity with Indigenous Declaration opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline

CBC News video.

The Council of Canadians expresses its solidarity with the Declaration Opposing Oil Sands Expansion and the Construction of the Keystone-XL Pipeline.

CBC reports, “Indigenous leaders from the U.S. and Canada gathered in Calgary on May 17 to sign a declaration of opposition against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The leaders say their coalition represents thousands of First Nations people in opposition to the TransCanada project and wanted to be in the company’s hometown to express their concern.”

That article highlights, “The ceremony included leaders of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Canada, which includes Indigenous people in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as the Great Sioux Nation in the U.S.”

Native News Online adds, “The sixteen-page ‘Declaration Opposing Oil Sands Expansion and the Construction of the Keystone-XL Pipeline’ is described as the most comprehensive proclamation of its kind against the immense fossil-fuel sacrifice zone and pipeline that will carry its bitumen crude across sacred and environmentally fragile tribal lands.”

The declaration highlights the right to free, prior and informed consent, a key principle of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The pipeline would impact the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, the Lubicon Cree First Nation, and the Mikisew Cree First Nation, as well as the the territories of the Dene and Creek Nations to the Omaha, Ho-chunk and Panka tribes in the United States. Signatories to the declaration include: the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Great Sioux Nation, the Piikani Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, and the Chipewyan Prairie First Nation.

The Trudeau government celebrated U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in March to approve the pipeline.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, “We’re very pleased with the announcement coming out of the United States.” And Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr noted, “This is a very good opportunity for us to move more Alberta crude south of the border. It’s a very good example of how the integration of the energy economy in Canada and in the United States is in the interests of both countries, so we think it’s a good day.”

Trudeau has long backed this pipeline.

In October 2013, he stated, “My support for Keystone is steadfast. The fact that I’d be talking positively about the project I think got people thinking about the fact that perhaps it’s not as bad as it’s been caricatured.” Trudeau also confirmed his support for the pipeline in telephone conversations with Trump in November of last year and in January of this year, as well as during his visit to the White House in February.

Filling the Keystone XL pipeline with tar sands crude would facilitate a 36 per cent increase in current tar sands production and increase greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 22 million tonnes a year. In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency stated that over a 50-year-period, Keystone XL would lead to the release of about 1.3 billion more tonnes of greenhouse gases than a conventional oil pipeline.

The 1,897 kilometre pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Houston, Texas would also cross numerous waterways and the Ogallala aquifer, putting the drinking water for millions of people at risk.

Several weeks ago, the Canadian Press reported, “The presidential approval doesn’t guarantee the pipeline gets built. The removal of one big obstacle in Washington still leaves several sprinkled around the American Midwest, where opponents still hope to trip up the project with protests and lawsuits. The likely epicentre of the coming battle is Nebraska, the very place where opposition to Keystone began years ago. TransCanada must still reach deals with some landowners there, it lacks a state permit and faces possible court challenges there and in South Dakota.”

The CBC now reports, “The project still faces hurdles. A coalition of environmental groups has challenged the federal permit in court, saying more environmental study is needed. Nebraska regulators also haven’t decided whether to approve the proposed route through that state. The coalition plans to use the document to draw attention to their cause — possibly sending it to the United Nations — while they also consider other opposition, including protest camps along the pipeline route, [says Ponca Tribe Elder Casey Camp-Horine].”