First Nations Chiefs oppose TransCanada tarsands pipeline

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Quebec-Labraor chiefs say project constitutes serious threat to land, waters and futures of their peoples

The First Nation Chiefs of QuebecLabrador on Wednesday passed a resolution at a meeting in Wendake  of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) officially opposing TransCanada’s “Energy East” Tar Sands pipeline and tasking the AFNQL with helping to see that opposition respected.

First Nations in QuebecLabrador have been studying the project since its announcement in 2013 and have come to the conclusion that the pipeline constitutes a serious threat to the lands, waters and futures of their peoples.

“First Nations in QuebecLabrador are not anti-development – they in fact want to participate and benefit from development on their lands,” stated Ghislain Picard, Regional Chief of the AFNQL. “But they will continue to oppose and fight projects which pose a real danger to their Nations, whether it be Tar Sands pipelines like Energy East, Tar Sands rail projects like at the Belledune port, uranium mining or offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.”

Inherent jurisdiction

The resolution passed by the First Nation Chiefs of QuebecLabrador declares that irrespective of questions of federal and provincial jurisdiction over the Energy East pipeline, First Nations, including those in QuebecLabrador, may exert their own inherent jurisdiction over the Energy East project by virtue of their inherent power to govern and protect their territories and their peoples.

“Now that our Chiefs have decided to reject the pipeline, we will be asking that Quebec and Canada respect such decision if they are to fulfil their Constitutional obligations and if they are to respect the United NationsDeclaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” added Regional Chief Picard. “Consulting First Nations doesn’t hold much meaning if strong opposition to projects which threaten First Nations’ survival is to be ignored.”

‘Break the hegemony’

“I came here today to support Nations in QuebecLabrador in their fight against the pipeline because I see a future where we break the hegemony of dinosaur energy monopolies built in the colonial tradition that contribute to our containment and jeopardize our future,” stated visiting Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. “The solutions to the climate crisis are at hand and some of our Nations have taken the lead in implementing them.”

In addition to rejecting the Energy East pipeline, the resolution also provides that the First Nations of Quebecand Labrador will continue to work together and with Indigenous Peoples all over Turtle Island (North America) and beyond on strategies that are true solutions to the climate crisis.

“We the Dene have been working for a long time to educate people in the South. The water flows North to us and we are affected by what happens south of 60 degrees,” added visiting Dene National Chief and AFN Regional Chief of the Northwest Territories Bill Erasmus. “Therefore, we need to have a national First Nations energy plan in place that deals with all future resources.”

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the political organization of 43 Chiefs of the First Nations inQuebec and Labrador.  -CNW Telbec

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