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NEWS: Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation challenges Shell in the tar sands

Sierra Club Prairie writes at rabble.ca, “On the eve of the 17th UNFCCC, the world’s climate summit, Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and allies rallied outside of Shell Canada corporate headquarters in downtown Calgary. The chief and council served Shell executives papers with intent to sue for failure to meet contractual agreements made between Shell and the First Nation regarding existing tar sands projects within ACFN traditional territory and Canada’s pristine Athabasca, A UNESCO heritage site.”

“After years of unmet agreements with Shell Oil, the Athabasca Chipewyan people decided to risk everything by challenging Shell’s practices and filing suit represented by Othuis Kleer Townshed Firm. The agreements in question were meant to ensure Shell would provide measures to lessen impact of these mines on ACFN, including agreements to address environmental issues and mitigation. Shell’s failure to meet these agreements with ACFN has led to harmful impacts on the environment and ACFN’s constitutionally protected rights and culture. …In addition to the lawsuit against Shell, ACFN also plans to oppose all future tar sands projects by Shell.”

“Shell is one of the largest players in the tar sands producing close to 20 per cent of overall production. Shell Canada recently submitted proposals to expand its current tar sands operations and if approved, would more then double their production. This would translate into further encroachment of open pit mines on ACFN traditional lands, and into the pristine wilderness of the Pierre River, a previously untouched area.”

“An international coalition of Indigenous and environmental groups, including Keepers of the Athabasca, AFN Regional Office (NWT), Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Yinka Dene Alliance, Dene Nation, Greenpeace, Indigenous Environmental Network, Sierra Club Prairie, Council of Canadians, Polaris Institute, International Indigenous Treaty Council, Platform UK, London Mining Network and UK Tar Sands Network, endorsed today’s action echoing the call on Shell Oil Canada and Shell Oil International to halt any further tar sands extraction in the Athabasca region until proper environmental safeguards are put into place and in accordance with Article 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which affirms the right to free, prior and informed consent for Indigenous Peoples regarding development projects which affect their lands, territories and resources.”

To read the full statement, please go to http://rabble.ca/news/2011/11/athabasca-chipewyan-first-nation-sue-shell-canada-over-tar-sands-projects.