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In May 2011, a small delegation of First Nations Peoples brought to European institutions the reality of treaty rights, and the impacts of living within the tar sands extraction zone. This reality represents an important side of tar sands development that the Canadian Foreign Department has not adequately addressed at home or abroad.
Edmonton, AB - Lionel Lepine, member of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Heather Milton-Lightening of the Indigenous Environmental Network came to the EU with a speciﬁc message, "First Nations rights based on the treaties and recognized within the Canadian Constitution are violated on a daily basis by the oil industry and Canadian Government. This poses great risk on Tar Sands investment as many First Nations communities face the brunt of the development impacts and have not had due recourse by the Alberta and Canadian governments."
Meetings were organized with members of European institutions (Parliament and Commission) to debate on the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) which could express the different carbon footprints of oil-based fuel products entering the EU by assigning them (tar sands in particular) a value that represents their (higher or lower) greenhouse gases intensity. Everyday of the tour, the delegation would just miss the Canadian Foreign Department, which has been quoted in the EU media as spending the largest amount on EU lobbying in history on the Fuel Quality Directive.
"They needed to hear the personal effects and grave concerns of our people. What they were told by the Canadians was all positive and they (Canada) did NOT emphasize the fact that they are impacting the Indigenous people of this continent. I had to explain how industry impacts our Traditional way of life and emphasized the serious health issues of our community. One MEP now, in fact, wants to actually come to Fort Chipewyan to visit! He wants to see ﬁrsthand the impacts to the environment and of course the impact on us", recalls Lionel Lepine.
In partnership with Friends of the Earth Europe, Netherlands and France, meetings with investors had high interest in looking at the finance sector as banks are beginning to create dialogue on Free Prior Informed Consent, an internationally recognized legal right; that gives communities the ability to make an informed choice and the right to say "No" to development.
"Our main message to investors was Canadian constitutional law presents massive liabilities to tar sands investors. Canada is legally bound by its own laws to protect and uphold the trust relationship defined by legally-binding treaties with First Nations which includes the protection of First Nations unique right to hunt, fish and trap in their traditional lands. Canada has also failed to mention to the international community that they are locked into the Security and Prosperity Act that requires 63% of energy developed in Canada to be exported to the US." commented Heather Milton-Lightening, "There is little beneﬁt to the world to invest in Canadian tar sands development, not only for these reasons but the cost of tar sands GHG contribution to global climate change."
- or email heathermilton.lightening(at)gmail.com
- or email ienoil(at)igc.org
Juliette Renaud Friends of the Earth France France- Work +33 1 48 51 18 92 or email juliette.renaud(at)amisdelaterre.org
Darek Urbaniak Friends of the Earth Europe - Tel.: +32 2 893 1021 or email darek.urbaniak(at)foeeurope.org
About IEN - Established in 1990 within the United States, and working in North America and internationally, IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues (EJ). IEN's activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.
Les Amis de la Terre France - http://www.amisdelaterre.org/-Energies-fossiles-.html
Milieudefensie - http://www.milieudefensie.nl/english