Grassroots anti-pipeline groups and Idle No More say “Enbridge no more! Shut down the tar sands!”

sarnia_kala_anniversaryjpgSource: Intercontinental Cry, July 27, 2013

Today, members of Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines (ASAP) along with supporters of the Idle No More movement and environmental groups gathered in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley at Lasalle Line where Enbridge’s Line 9 comes above ground across the road from the border of the Aamjiwnaang reserve. Community members and grassroots activists briefly blocked the Lasalle Line road with a mock oil spill, calling attention to the risks posed by the Line 9 Reversal Project and to commemorate the 3 year anniversary of the Line 6 spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The demonstration on Lasalle Line is at the spot where Line 9 comes above ground and there is a small Enbridge facility right on the edge of Aamjiwnaang. At this site, Aamjiwnaang community members will conduct a land protection ceremony.

The Line 9 Reversal Project is Enbridge’s plan to ship tar sands oil east for export through a nearly 40 year old pipeline for which experts not employed by oil companies agree that it is a matter of when, not if, this line will spill.

Today’s demonstrators call attention to the broader destruction caused by the tar sands and not just the local risks posed by the Line 9 reversal Project. “All pipeline spills are overlooked by the media all the time,” says Vanessa Gray, a member of Aamjiwnaang First Nation and a founding member of ASAP. “The problem is not how we transport the product, it’s the product itself and the oil companies we should question. The Tar Sands is the most destructive project exploiting First Nation’s territories on Turtle Island today and the future generations of all peoples are depending on the actions we take to defend the air, water, and land we need.” said Gray.

Today’s demonstration was called to commemorate the three year anniversary of the spill on Enbridge’s Line 6 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which started spilling on July 25, 2010, and was the largest inland oil spill in US history. Communities around that spill site continue to deal with devastating local environmental and health impacts. However, the message coming from Chloe Gleichman of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands was similar to Gray’s, in that she too was interested in focussing on broader, rather than local impacts.

“The community and climate devastation caused by tar sands transcends fabricated boundaries drawn by governments and authorities in collusion with companies like Enbridge,” said Gleichman. “Tar sands development is industrial genocide to indigenous cultures, ecosystems, and anyone who stands in the way of infrastructure expansion. We must resist Enbridge because no community should become collateral damage in the endless and reckless pursuit of profit,” she said.

Clayton Thomas Muller, National Campaigner for Idle No More’s Sovereignty Summer (#SovSummer) campaign, says that, “a movement is rising up from coast to coast to coast against the Canadian Tar Sands and will continue to grow incrementally until we take back our democracy from the hands of corporations like Enbridge who would see all our streets, rivers, lakes and coastal areas destroyed by tar sands pipeline spills.” Thomas-Muller continues, “We will not stop until the six core demands of Idle No More & Defenders of the Land’s campaign, #SovSummer, including the right of communities to say NO are respected by the Harper Government.”

Idle No More delivers Sovereignty Summer message for Canada Day – This is stolen Native land.

idle-no-more-delivers-sovereignty-summer-message-for-canada-day-this-is-stolen-native-land-300x200-1Activists with No More Silence and Idle No More unveil surprise banner at Canada Day celebration in Toronto, call attention to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Source: Climate Connections, July 1, 2013

At this evening’s Canada celebration at Mel Lastman Square, a group of activists as part of Idle No More’s Sovereignty Summer campaign, scaled the main stage at Toronto’s official Canada Celebration and ‘dropped’ a banner reading, “Oh Canada, your home on Stolen Native Land.”

Also, members and supporters of the group No More Silence were on hand at Mel Lastman’s Square handing out educational flyer’s about Idle No More and also No More Silence’s campaign to call attention to the tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Silvia McAdams, a spokesperson for Idle No More says, “there is a deep interconnection between the ongoing extractive industries based economy of Canada and the violence that industry represents against our most sacred mother earth and this country’s ongoing failures to address and resolve the murdered and missing First Nations  women’s  and girls’ crisis. Sovereignty Summer calls for an immediate national Inquiry led by grassroots Indigenous women to develop a national action plan.”

Also on hand were activists dressed up as a promotional team from RBC, handing out flyers for a fictional “Colonialism Dividend” for Canada Day. “The point of this is to call attention to the source of Canadian wealth: Native land and resources,” says Audrey Huntely of No More Silence. “While the stereotype of the drunken lazy Indian living on hand outs persists it is in fact Native land and resources that make up the riches of this country – projects like the tar sands financed by banks such as RBC generate huge profits for a few while destroying the land and communities in their path. Hand in hand with this destruction go skyrocketing rates of violence against women. In fact Native women are five to seven times more likely to be murdered than other women,” Huntley says.

Sovereignty Summer is the new campaign of the Idle No More movement and the Defenders of the Land Network, intended as an education and action-based campaign focused on Indigenous Rights and in defense of Mother Earth. Building on the momentum and enthusiasm of the Idle No More Winter and Spring towards a strategic and effective next stage of this movement.

Sovereignty Summer to ‘increase tension’ over rights during summer of action

Members of the Haisla First Nation march in Kitimat, B.C. as part of a rally in support of the Idle No More movement in 2012. Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Robin Rowland

Members of the Haisla First Nation march in Kitimat, B.C. as part of a rally in support of the Idle No More movement in 2012. Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Robin Rowland

Michael Woods,

Indigenous rights activists are aiming to “increase tension” this summer to oppose the Harper government’s agenda, which they say ignores aboriginal rights and weakens environmental protections.

Friday, National Aboriginal Day, marks the launch of the so-called “Sovereignty Summer” in which the grassroots indigenous Idle No More movement says it will band together with other activist groups to plan “non-violent direct action” across the country.

“The point is to increase tension,” said Sheelah McLean, one of Idle No More’s four co-founders. “To raise awareness and increase tension between people who are wanting to assert their rights and people who are unjustly forgetting about the rights of indigenous peoples.”

At play are many of the same issues that helped galvanize the indigenous movement in December and January when protests reached their peak: matters such as implementing historic treaty rights, the federal government’s changes to environmental protections, and consultation with aboriginals regarding resource development on their traditional lands.

“The one thing that’s going to stop this resource hyper-extraction is the rights of indigenous Canadians, and Canadians have to stand behind them,” McLean said. “Pressure on the government is essential.”

Idle No More grew in reaction to Conservative omnibus legislation that, opponents say, infringed on indigenous rights and weakened environmental protections. It helped lead to a meeting in January between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations leaders, but many aboriginal leaders and activists have lamented a lack of progress since then.

Now, Idle No More has joined with Defenders of the Land, a group of indigenous activists formed in 2008. McLean said it was a natural fit: much of Idle No More activity has taken place in urban areas, but Defenders of the Land works mostly in remote areas.

Organizers say “non-violent direct action” will cover a wide spectrum, and individual communities will decide what it means. But it could include banner drops, camping, rallies, round dances – and even blockades. Whatever the methods, McLean says tension will continue to escalate if the government ignores aboriginal issues.

“The government is counting on settler Canadians not understanding these issues,” McLean said. “What we’re hoping is to focus on these issues by any means possible to educate people on why they need to stand behind indigenous communities to protect the land.”

Andrea Richer, spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, said the government is “always prepared to work with those First Nations, and other partners, who want to achieve results.”

“Canadians have a right to peaceful protest, but much more can be accomplished by working together,” Richer said. “While we may not always agree on the way forward, we do agree that it is critical we demonstrate concrete movement on some of the key issues like education, skills and training and economic development.”

Sovereignty Summer national campaigner Clayton Thomas-Muller said there will be “major actions” in mid-July and early August, but declined to provide details. He said the end of the summer would feature “mass mobilization” in urban centres across the country.

Protests will highlight various land-based struggles: Thomas-Muller said there are “dozens and dozens that are potential powder kegs” including proposed pipeline paths, disputes with provincial governments, and proposed hydroelectric and uranium mining expansions.

The groups have listed six demands which include repealing provisions of Bill C-45, the government’s omnibus budget bill that made changes to the Navigable Waters Act; recognition of Aboriginal title and rights; respecting indigenous rights to free, prior and informed consent on matters that may affect them; honouring historic treaties; and launching a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

“Our goal is to … bring this government to a place where they have no choice but to act,” Thomas-Muller said. “What we’re talking about is stopping the ability of Canada to operate as business as usual until the government addresses these six core things.

“It’s ‘go’ time. These are life and death situations, and there needs to be real political will taken to respond to them.”

Friday’s National Aboriginal Day features events across the country that will celebrate aboriginal history and culture. Opposition leader Tom Mulcair, for example, will join a march in solidarity with First Nations starting on Victoria Island near Parliament Hill, the site of Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence’s January protest liquid diet, and ending in a speech on the Hill.