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Brent Patterson

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Brent Patterson is the Political Director at the Council of Canadians. He works with the Council's chairperson Maude Barlow, its campaigners, organizers and chapters across the country on trade, energy, water, and health care issues. The Council has political staff in Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax, Delhi, Cape Town and Mexico City. You can follow Brent on Twitter @CBrentPatterson.

Iroquois Caucus in Quebec and Ontario oppose the Energy East pipeline

| March 15, 2016
Iroquois Caucus in Quebec and Ontario oppose the Energy East pipeline

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Indigenous opposition is growing across Canada against the Energy East pipeline.

This week, the Montreal Gazette reported:

"Besides the official opposition of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec and Labrador representing 43 Quebec chiefs, the list against TransCanada's pipeline now includes the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs -- who are fighting their own pipeline battle -- and the Iroquois Caucus regrouping Mohawk nations in Quebec and Ontario. The level of anger in the First Nations and their complaint at having not been consulted is revealed in a bluntly worded six-page personal 'nation-to-nation' style letter from Mohawk Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge 'Otsi' Simon to Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard."

As noted on the Iroquois Caucus website, "Akwesáhsne, Kahnawà:ke, Kahnesatá:ke, Oneida of the Thames, Six Nations of the Grand River, Tyendinaga, and Wahta are communities of the Iroquois Confederacy. Although we are separated by distance, we recognize that we are one People who share a common Identity, common responsibilities and our own system of Law and government." The news report adds, "Energy East would pass through Mohawk territory including the Seigneury of the Lake of Two Mountains and the Outaouais River."

Mohawk Kanesatake Grand Chief Simon writes:

"An alliance of Indigenous nations, from coast to coast, is being formed against all the pipeline, rail and tanker projects that would make possible the continued expansion of tar sands. ...The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake as well as the rest of the Iroquois caucus has made its choice. Other First Nations are making the same choice. ...We the Mohawks of Kanesatake will not be brushed aside any longer and we wish to press upon you that we reserve the right to take legal action if necessary to prevent the abuse of our inherent rights."

While the Montreal Gazette article reports on significant Indigenous opposition to the pipeline, it extends even beyond that.

In May 2014, the Globe and Mail reported, "Some 70 First Nations leaders met in Winnipeg recently to plan a strategy they hope will block TransCanada's ambitious plan to ship more than 1 million barrels a day of crude from Western Canada to refiners and export terminals in the East..." La Presse added (in French), "The meeting brought together activists and citizens, but the presence of grand chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs [AMC] represents 'a growing sense of unity' among First Nations against the project, according to Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network."

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs represents about 60 First Nations across the province.

In Jan. 2015, Treaty 3 Grand Chief Warren White stated:

"I do not want to be the grand chief who consented to a pipeline that's going to destroy 30 per cent of the fresh water in Ontario, in Treaty 3 territory. ...I came here to let everyone know what Energy East is all about… In unity in Treaty 3 we will be the ones to stop this. Our communities, our youth, our leadership are being called on by other nations. ...TransCanada whatever you wanna call it, are there for the dollar signs, and nothing about the land, nothing about how we survive."

Treaty 3 represents more than 25 Anishinaabe First Nations whose traditional territory is situated in northwestern Ontario.

And in Feb. 2016, Grand Chief Ron Tremblay stated, "As members of the Wolastoq Grand Council we unanimously oppose the Energy East Pipeline Project in order to protect our non-ceded homeland and waterways, our traditional and cultural connection to our lands, waterways, and air. The Wolastoq Grand Council has serious concerns for the safety and protection of the animals, fish, birds, insects, plants and tree life that sustains our Wolastoq Nation." Clan mother Hart Perley of Tobique First Nation adds, "The premier is adamant about bringing the toxic sludge through our homeland and we're more adamant that it's not going to happen. We are not allowing the pipeline to come through our homeland. It's not going to happen."

In New Brunswick, the Wolastoq Nation asserts Indigenous Title over the lands and waters within the entire Saint John River watershed.

The Trudeau government has pledged to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That declaration acknowledges the right to "free, prior and informed consent," which extends beyond the "duty to consult" with Indigenous peoples. But just last week the Canadian Press reported that federal natural resources minister Jim Carr says he shares a "common objective" with those who want to see the Energy East pipeline built. In contrast, Maude Barlow has stated, "We recognize and respect First Nations' decisions to ban tar sands pipelines and tankers from their territories and we offer our support and solidarity."

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