Yakama Nation to Coal: And Stay Out.

“The Yakama Nation will not rest until the entire regional threat posed by the coal industry to our ancestral lands and waters is eradicated.” ~Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy.

Yakama Chairman JoDe Goudy asserts his rights under the Treaty of 1855 to fish traditionally on the Columbia River

Yakama Chairman JoDe Goudy asserts his rights under the Treaty of 1855 to fish traditionally on the Columbia River

By: Michael O’Leary

Governor Kitzhaber’s Department of State Lands has issued a landmark denial of Oregon’s only proposed coal export terminal, keeping millions of tons of coal right where it belongs – buried in the ground.

Back in May the Yakama Nation protested that the coal terminal proposed for their traditional treaty recognized fishing grounds up on the Columbia Rover, near modern day Boardman, was an attack on the water, the salmon, their way of life, and a contradiction to the idea of living in balance with our surroundings.

The Australian coal mining company in question, Ambre Energy, denied the tribal claims in comments to the media and in filings to state regulators.

Evidently the claims by the coal company about where tribal fishing rights do or don’t apply were not pursuasive.

In their findings released on August 18th the Department of State Lands had the final word on the matter:

“The agency record demonstrates that the project would unreasonably interfere with a small but important and and long-standing fishery in the State’s waters at the project site.”

In response to this news Yakama Chairman JoDe Goudy made the following statement:

“This is only the beginning of what I expect will be a long fight. Yakama Nation will not rest until the entire regional threat posed by the coal industry to our ancestral lands and waters is eradicated. We will continue to speak out and fight on behalf of our people, and for those things, which cannot speak for themselves, that have been entrusted to us for cultivation and preservation since time immemorial. Today, however, we thank and stand in solidarity with the State of Oregon, and celebrate its decision to protect the Columbia River from further damage and degradation.”

So what’s next?

The Columbia River could still be impacted by two remaining coal export terminals.

Up in Bellingham, Washington the proposed coal terminal will rumble 9 loaded coal trains down the Columbia River Gorge every day. Up there the fight against has also been taken on by local tribal leaders.

Lummi Nation Chairman, Timothy Ballew II, had this to say about today’s good news from Oregon:

“The State’s action makes a strong policy statement by recognizing Tribal Sovereignty and the Treaty Rights of the Columbia River tribes. Such decisions are few and far between. This is important not just for the Yakama and Umatilla but all Indian fishing tribes. Together we can, and will, protect our way of life.”

And we’ve still got a coal proposal on the Columbia River, just over in Longview, Washington, that will barrel 8 loaded and uncovered coal trains a day through Portland. That one may be the most likely threat left on the radar. Just this week the Longview coal terminal supporters just threw a summer picnic for 300 of their closest supporters – for a terminal that hasn’t even seen a draft EIS yet.

According to the spokesperson for the coal company, Millenium Terminals, “We wanted to find way to say thank you to folks in the community.”

I guess it must be all about who you include in your definition of community.

Ontario First Nations ready to die defending lands: chiefs

5 chiefs serve notice that they’ll assert treaty rights over their traditional territory

 

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy and Grassy Narrows Chief Roger Fobister speak at a Toronto new conference on Monday. On Tuesday, Ontario chiefs said the provincial and federal governments haven't respected the agreements their ancestors signed more than a century ago, which give First Nations the right to assert jurisdiction over lands and resources. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy and Grassy Narrows Chief Roger Fobister speak at a Toronto new conference on Monday. On Tuesday, Ontario chiefs said the provincial and federal governments haven’t respected the agreements their ancestors signed more than a century ago, which give First Nations the right to assert jurisdiction over lands and resources. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

 

By Maria Babbage, The Canadian Press Posted: Jul 30, 2014

Aboriginal people in Ontario are prepared to lay down their lives to protect their traditional lands from any unwanted development, a group of First Nations chiefs said Tuesday.

Five aboriginal chiefs served notice on the Ontario and federal governments, developers and the public that they’ll assert their treaty rights over their traditional territory and ancestral lands.

That includes the rights to natural resources — such as fish, trees, mines and water— deriving benefit from those resources and the conditions under which other groups may access or use them, which must be consistent with their traditional laws, said Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy.

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy says "all those seeking to access or use First Nations lands and resources have, at a minimum, a duty to engage, enquire and consult with First Nations with the standards of free, prior and informed consent."

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy says “all those seeking to access or use First Nations lands and resources have, at a minimum, a duty to engage, enquire and consult with First Nations with the standards of free, prior and informed consent.”

 

“All those seeking to access or use First Nations lands and resources have, at a minimum, a duty to engage, inquire and consult with First Nations with the standards of free, prior and informed consent,” he said.

“We will take appropriate steps to enforce these assertions.”

‘No respect’ for agreements with ancestors

Tuesday’s declaration follows a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in late June which awarded 1,700 square kilometres of territory to British Columbia’s Tsilhqot’in First Nation, providing long-awaited clarification on how to prove aboriginal title.

The ruling also formally acknowledged the legitimacy of indigenous land claims to wider territory beyond individual settlement sites.

But in a separate decision a few weeks later, the court upheld the Ontario government’s power to permit industrial logging on Grassy Narrows First Nation’s traditional lands. Grassy Narrows is different from the Tsilhqot’in decision because it involves treaty land, not aboriginal title.

Grassy Narrows argued that only Ottawa has the power to take up the land because treaty promises were made with the federal Crown.

The high court ruled that the province doesn’t need the federal government’s permission to allow forestry and mining activity under an 1873 treaty that ceded large swaths of Ontario and Manitoba to the federal government.

The Ontario chiefs who spoke out on Tuesday said the provincial and federal governments haven’t respected the agreements their ancestors signed more than a century ago, which gives First Nations the right to assert jurisdiction over lands and resources.

‘Land has become sick’

Aboriginal communities have seen what Canadian and Ontario laws have done to their land over the last 147 years, Beardy said.

“The land has become sick,” he said. “We become sick. We become poor, desperate and dying.”

The people of Grassy Narrows First Nation are still suffering from mercury poisoning decades after the Wabigoon river around their land was contaminated by a local paper mill, Beardy added.

Grand Chief of Treaty 3, Warren White, argued that Prime Minister Stephen Harper recognizes the state of Israel, but not the lands of Canada’s aboriginal peoples.

“He needs to have the same principles that he’s saying about Israeli lands to Treaty 3 territory and native lands in Canada,” White said.

“Clean up your own backyard before you go and spill a lot of money into disasters in other countries.”

Grand Chief Harvey Yesno of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation added that the province’s aboriginal people will draw a line in the sand, put a stake in the ground and tie themselves to it if that’s what it takes to protect their land from unwanted resource development.

Grand Chief Harvey Yesno of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation says Ontario's aboriginal people will put a stake in the ground and tie themselves to it if that's what it takes to protect their land from unwanted resource development.

Grand Chief Harvey Yesno of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation says Ontario’s aboriginal people will put a stake in the ground and tie themselves to it if that’s what it takes to protect their land from unwanted resource development.

“We’re no longer just going to be civilly disobedient. We’re going to defend our lands, and there’s a big difference there,” he said.

“Our young people are dying, our people are dying. So let’s die at least defending our land.”

Aboriginal communities don’t want to harm others, said Beardy. But they’ll do what they must to stop an incursion on their lands, such as forming human blockades to stop the clearcutting of trees, he said.

“Anything that happens on our aboriginal homeland now, they must consult with us,” said Roger Fobister Sr., chief of Grassy Narrows First Nation. “Even if they’re going to cut down one tree, they better ask us.”

Precedent Setting Ruling In Canada Against Hudbay Minerals

Angelica Choc, Adolfo Ich Chaman's widow, announcing one of three lawsuits against HudBay Minerals, Inc. (2010) Photo: James Rodriguez/mimundo.org

Angelica Choc, Adolfo Ich Chaman’s widow, announcing one of three lawsuits against HudBay Minerals, Inc. (2010) Photo: James Rodriguez/mimundo.org

By John Ahni Schertow, Intercontinental Cry

In a precedent-setting ruling that has national and international implications, Ontario Superior Court Justice Carole Brown has ruled that three separate lawsuits against the Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals can proceed to trial even though the plaintiffs are from another country.

“As a result of this ruling, Canadian mining corporations can no longer hide behind their legal corporate structure to abdicate responsibility for human rights abuses that take place at foreign mines under their control at various locations throughout the world,” said Murray Klippenstein, of Toronto’s Klippensteins, Barristers & Solicitors, who’s representing 13 Maya Qeqchi from El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala.

The Maya Qeqchi turned to Canada’s court system over three separate injustices that were carried out by employees of the Fenix Mining Project, a nickel mine that was acquired by HudBay Minerals after the company purchased Skye Resources in 2008.

In January 2007, Skye Resources (subsequently renamed HMI Nickel) requested the eviction of five Maya Qeqchi communities from their ancestral lands.

At the time, the Fenix project was subject to land claims by the local communities, who maintained that Guatemala breached international law by approving the mining concession because it failed to carry out prior consultations.

“With the force of the army and police”, observes Rights Action, “company workers took chainsaws and torches to people’s homes, while women and children stood by. The mining company claimed that they maintained ‘a peaceful atmosphere during this action.’”

As if it wasn’t enough to displace the Maya Qeqchi families, on January 17, 2007, 11 women from the community of Lote Ocho were gang raped by the police, military and security personnel.

In their lawsuit against Hudbay, the women are seeking $1 million each in compensation for the pain and suffering they’ve endured, in addition to another $4 million in punitive damages because of the “extreme and heinous nature of the attacks against them.”

The second lawsuit against Hudbay is led by Angelica Choc, the widow of Adolfo Ich Chaman. A respected community leader, a school teacher and father, Adolfo was brutally murdered by the company’s mine security. Their son, José, who witnessed the killing, says the security guards hacked at Adolfo with a machete before shooting him in the head. Adolfo was trying to help restore calm in the region after hearing gunshots from the direction of the company’s buildings.

A third lawsuit was filed for German Chub, a young father who was shot at close range by the head of the security personnel the very same day that Adolfo was murdered. As a result of the injuries that he sustained, German Chub was paralyzed and no longer has use of his right lung.

“There will now be a trial regarding the abuses that were committed in Guatemala, and this trial will be in a courtroom in Canada, a few blocks from Hudbay’s headquarters, exactly where it belongs,” said Mr. Klippenstein. “We would never tolerate these abuses in Canada, and Canadian companies should not be able to take advantage of broken-down or extremely weak legal systems in other countries to get away with them there.”

“Today is a great day for me and all others who brought this lawsuit,” said Angelica Choc. “It means everything to us that we can now stand up to Hudbay in Canadian courts to seek justice for what happened to us.”

“This judgment should be a wake-up call for Canadian mining companies,” added Cory Wanless, co-counsel for the Mayas along with Mr. Klippenstein. “It is the first time that a Canadian court has ruled that a claim can be made against a Canadian parent corporation for negligently failing to prevent human rights abuses at its foreign mining project. We fully expect that more claims like this one will be brought against Canadian mining companies until these kinds of abuses stop.”

For more information about the claims, visit: www.chocversushudbay.com