After Laxer spoke of his book on the tar sands last Wednesday, Myeengun Henry spoke. He's an Elder and the Aboriginal Services Manager at Conestoga College. His focus was on pipelines. He spoke of issues that I had heard about and kind of understood, but I admit I haven't paid close enough attention to be able to keep all the pipelines straight even though it's clear they can break and leak and wreak havoc on the soil and water. Henry brought a clarity and urgency to the issue. It's time I wrap my head around it all.
While Indigenous people were recovering from residential schools, the land was being divided by pipelines. They had to get back to their traditional teachings about protecting the land.
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We must refuse to stand and watch it happen. So some of them took it into their own hand to go to Enbridge in Calgary. The Chippewa of the Thames First Nation talked about sharing resources and offered a two row Wampum to the CEOs. It looked something like the photo here. The two lines represent the two nations working parallel to each other. The three sections represent love, peace, and respect. And the fact that it's unfinished at the ends, illustrates that the relationship has no end.
Then the CEOs told them that the resources don't belong to the Indigenous people, and they presented them with a broken piece of pipeline.
It was clear that conversation wasn't going to bridge the gap, so they decided to take on the legal challenge.
Section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982 says there's a duty to consult any indigenous people on land that could be adversely affected by corporate activity. That consultation never took place. So they took it to a Federal Court of Appeals, but they lost the case. There were three judges; two said no, and one dissented.
They wanted to take it to the Supreme Court, but if they lost, they'd have to pay Enbridge's court costs. Henry feels strongly that money shouldn't be a deciding factor in a Supreme Court challenge. These court cases should be about the cost to children. People shouldn't have to prove their rights in a court of law; they should just have to show that their rights were violated for the injustice to be corrected.
BC First Nations were able to raise $200,000 in four months to fight the Northern Gateway a couple years ago.
The Chippewas started a gofundme site (DONATE HERE) and decided to go for it despite the costs. And they put Hydro One and Union Gas on notice too!
The date for the appeal to begin is November 30th 2016. Enbridge started flowing oil through line 9 last December 2015. Fingers crossed there are no leaks before it can be shut down.
Think back before we discovered Columbus. People understood our Mother the Earth is the most important aspect of life, and it needs to be honoured and cherished. If we dishonour her, it spoils the water and air and life ends. We need to come together on this. Nature will take all of us. We need a more unified country based on understanding Aboriginal knowledge in order to grow together.
Some pipelines in the news (outline of all Enbridge's pipelines here):
* Line 9 - 800 km from Sarnia to Montreal; it crosses tributaries flowing into Lake Ontario, and crosses the Ottawa River; it passes through 99 towns and 14 Indigenous communities in Ontario and Quebec; it has 12961 structural weaknesses and several design deficiencies along its length.
* Line 7 - from Sarnia to Hamilton, side-by-side with line 9 - This one is 60 years old and carrying 180,000 barrels/day. It was approved by the National Energy Board in November. This one's falling under the radar.
* Northern Gateway - 525,000 barrels/day from the tar sands to Kitimat BC, 1,177 kms, then to tankers to go across the Pacific Ocean. Approved by Harper in June 2014, but Trudeau visited in August 2014 and said it would be shut down if he became PM. In November 2015, he banned oil tanker traffic in the Pacific, effectively shelving the pipeline.
* Keystone XL - 1,900 km from Alberta to Nebraska (just phase IV of the whole Keystone project - the other three phases have been completed). Rejected by Obama in November, 2015 after mass protests in Washington.
Leaks and spills and explosion, oh my!
Here's just a few to remind you of the potential for disaster. As pipelines are aging, leaks are becoming more frequent. Pipeline incidents in Canada have doubled in the past decade often citing corrosion as a culprit, yet replacing old pipes isn't in the picture:
"More than four reportable releases happened for every 10,000 kilometres in 2000, or 18 incidents in total, according to NEB data. By 2011, that rate had risen to 13 per 10,000 kilometres, or 94 incidents.
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2015 - Drumheller, Alberta - TransCanada pipeline leaks into agricultural land
2015 - NuVista pipeline spills in the Hay Lake First Nation
2015 - Nexen pipeline in Alberta - 5 million litres - one of the worst spills ever
2014 - Otterburne, Manitoba pipeline explosion
2014 - 70,000 litres spilled near Slave Lake
2014 - Oneok's Viking Gas transmission was ruptured and exploded in a 100' fireball
2013 - Exxon Pegasus tar sands spill into an Arkansas neighbourhood, and they didn't have to pay into the cleanup fund
2012 - Elk Point, Alberta had a leak of almost a quarter of a million litres
2012 - Half a million litres leaked into a central Alberta river system, Red Deer River
2011 - Peace River, Alberta - 4.5 million litres of crude leaked near the Indigenous community of Little Buffalo
2010 - Bronte Creek, Oakville - the Trans Northern pipeline leak into creeks, soil, and groundwater
2010 - Line 6B in Michigan - spilled millions of litres of bitumen in the Kalamazoo River - bitumen can't be effectively cleaned from a waterway because of its density; it's so far the largest inland oil spill
Line 9 - Ontario First Nations, three activists shut if off in Dec. 2015 in Sarnia, activists shut off a valve in Quebec, Bronte Creek blockade, Waterloo Region against line 9, activists scale a tower to unfurl a banner in Montréal, activists chained themselves to a fence in Montreal, activists walked 700 km to protest, and here's a list of 80 other groups.
Rachel Thevenard ran the entire length of the pipeline, 800 kms, IN WINTER, to raise awareness, and I hate to say I completely missed it. I know all about Clara Hughes biking for mental illness, but somehow missed any news about someone from my hometown running for an environmental cause.
"She sighed when asked if she was afraid of hurting herself. 'I will literally wheelchair against Line 9 if I have to. This pipeline has to be stopped.'"
Judy Gelfand, the federal environment commissioner, found in January 2016 that the National Energy Board is failing to adequately track whether pipeline companies are complying with conditions set out when projects are approved. The NEB's systems are "outdated or inaccurate."
Line 7 - Activists tamper with valves near Cambridge
Stand (formerly Forest Ethics) from Clayoquot Sound convinced Tim Hortons to refuse to advertise for Enbridge. Ezra Levant started a boycott Tim's site in response.
And the Greatest Irony Award goes to...
Enbridge for sponsoring a Ride to Conquer Cancer while mutated fish are developing near the tar sands!
ETA: And Notley's standing firmly in support of national pipelines. Even the NDP are willing to take a risk like this at the expense of our country and people:
"I'm asking you to leave here more persuaded than perhaps some of us have been, that it is possible for Canada to have a forest industry, to have an agriculture industry, a mining industry, and yes, an energy industry, while being world leaders on the environment."I'm not remotely persuaded.