Photo courtesy of Clayton Thomas-Muller.

First nations chiefs and hereditary leaders gathered in Ottawa on March 20, 2013 to take a stand against the plan to build four tar sands pipelines through their territories in the United States and Canada. The Yinka Dene Alliance, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the Yankton Sinoux Nation and Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Nation are willing to do whatever they need to protect their land and water from what they feel is inevitable pollution.

Phil Lane Jr. of the American Yankton Sioux stated, “We're going to stop these pipelines one way or another."

The first nations people argue that it is their right to say no to pipelines invading and polluting their territory, and that the government should respect that decision. Although the Canadian government has made an effort to convince the public that the tar sands are environmentally friendly, Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation thinks otherwise.

“The Canadian government is spending a lot of money and time in the United States saying the tar sands are environmental and well-regulated, but my community – the polluted air we breathe, the polluted water we drink, the miles of toxic lakes – is living proof the Canadian government is telling one long, expensive lie,” he said in a press release.

If the government goes through with the expansion of the pipelines, oil production could more than triple. Currently, the Alberta tar sands produce about 1.8 million barrels of oil per day; after the new pipelines are complete, it could be around six million barrels per day.

Chief Reuban George of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation says that Canadians need to open their eyes: “We have to wake up to the crazy decisions that this government’s making to change the world in a negative way.”

This follows a March 19, 2013 call to action from Idle No More and Defenders of the Land calling for intensified actions over the spring and summer to increase pressure against the Harper government to stop pipelines projects.

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Author Information

Emilie Wilson

Emilie is an A\J web editorial intern and a student at the University of Waterloo in Environment and Resource Studies, and Legal Studies.

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