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London chapter organizes fundraiser for Chippewas of the Thames Supreme Court challenge

Photo by Julie Picken-Cooper

The Council of Canadians London chapter held a Mother Earth Protectors Fundraiser at the N’Amerind Friendship Centre last night to help secure funds for a legal challenge to uphold Canada’s duty to consult requirement.

The gathering included Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Chief Leslee White-Eye, Grandmother Marie Short, Grandmother Corrine Tooshkenig, Theo Blackbird-John, Rachel Thevenard, Sarah Scanlon, Stone Stewart, spoken word poetry by Sākihitowin Awāsis, and a closing ceremony by Dan and Mary Lou Smoke.

The London Free Press reports, “The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada [on November 30] for an appeal hearing [on the reversal of the flow of the 300,000 barrel per day Line 9] pipeline which travels through Chippewas land, a change which members — along with critics and environmentalists — warn could lead to an environmental catastrophe. The reversal has been greenlighted by the National Energy Board, but, the Chippewas argue, without the Crown first fulfilling its constitutional duty to consult the First Nation.”

The article adds, “While the appeal takes place at the Supreme Court, supporters are organizing a ‘fill-the-Hill’ demonstration in Ottawa that aims to get attention on Parliament Hill down the street. Three buses from Chippewas of the Thames Fist Nation are expected to be packed with demonstrators for the Nov. 30 protest, said Clint Couchie, a band policy analyst. The community hopes many will join the demonstration at the Supreme Court on Nov. 30 and is also seeking financial support with a crowd-funding campaign to cover the legal costs for the appeal.”

Chief White-Eye says, “We want to be working with all Canadians on water protection and the fossil fuel industry and nation-to-nation relationships with First Nations in Canada. The decision is going to have considerable impacts either way. This really does matter. How we raise our children to value water.”

And band council member Myeengun Henry says, “The Canadian government has neglected its duties when it comes section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. Where a project is going to significantly impact our traditional lands, where there is hunting and fishing and gathering, [section 35] provides for meaningful consultation. That’s the basis for us taking this to the Supreme Court.”

The chapter highlighted that it would not keep any of the monies raised after event expenses and that 75 per cent of the proceeds would go to the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation legal expenses and that 25 per cent of the revenue would go to Vanessa Gray, Sarah Scanlon and Stone Stewart who temporarily shut down the Line 9 pipeline in December 2015.

The Council of Canadians London, Hamilton, Guelph, Peel Region, Toronto, Peterborough-Kawarthas and Northumberland County chapters have been actively supporting the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.

For numerous blogs about this situation by Council of Canadians Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara, please click here.