oil sands

More chiefs sign treaty alliance to fight pipelines (video at link)
The group is gearing up to fight against pipelines across the country.

Talks around pipelines continued Thursday at the Assembly of First Nations special gathering in Gatineau, Que.

More chiefs signed the newly formed treaty alliance.

The group is gearing up to fight against pipelines across the country.

The Treaty alliance now has 120 chiefs from across Canada and the USA who have joined together to oppose oil pipelines and the expansion of Alberta’s oilsands.

First Nations Treaty Alliance Says Newly Approved Tar Sands Pipelines Will Not Be Built
Despite opposition, Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau approved two massive pipelines this week.
By Nell Abram

Despite widespread opposition to the expansion of tar sands infrastructure in Canada, the country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved two massive energy projects last week. If built, the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline would triple its current capacity – potentially moving nearly 900,000 barrels of crude oil each day. A second pipeline project, known as Enbridge Line 3 also got the go-ahead

While the government did deny another Enbridge bid, and banned crude tankers from the northern coast of British Columbia near Alaska, the Prime Minister said tar sands oil production will only increase. Energy transport companies argue pipelines are a safer alternative to the controversial practice of shipping oil by rail.

Trudeau’s Liberal Party prevailed in last year’s elections in small part to his promises to reduce reliance on oil, protect the environment and honor the country’s First Nations peoples. Now 100 tribes have joined in a Treaty Alliance to strengthen their resistance to the expansion Canada’s tar sands-dependent fossil fuel industry. FSRN’s Nell Abram spoke with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

Nell Abram: Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, welcome to FSRN. First, your reaction to the Canadian government’s approval of two tar sands pipelines, the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s existing Trans Mountain project and a green light for Enbridge Line 3?

Stewart Phillip: Well, without question, we’re absolutely outraged at the Trudeau government’s decision to green light both of these heavy oil pipelines. Needless to say, we view this as an absolute betrayal of the promises and commitments he made during the last federal election, in terms of the most important relationship with his government would be the indigenous peoples and our inherent treaty rights and our rights under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Secondly, Prime Minister Trudeau made a solemn promise to completely overhaul the Canadian environmental assessment regulatory processes and the National Energy Board regulatory approval processes before – prior to – making any decisions on major resource development projects. He absolutely reneged on that promise and commitment. All the Trudeau government did was tack on an additional four month period for consultation under a fundamentally flawed process. In spite of those promises and commitments, he went ahead and threw British Columbia under the bus in favor of Alberta’s political interests. We just would like to point out the fact that the vast majority of British Columbians are opposed to Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansions. It’s not just indigenous peoples that stand in opposition; that was clearly evidence during the Burnaby Mountain campaign a couple of years ago, when I and well over 120 odd individuals from all walks of life were arrested.

The announcement came the same day as a Treaty Alliance signing ceremony was held, bringing the total number of nations on board to 100. These two pipelines are among five projects specifically cited in the Treaty Alliance as projects that must not proceed. Explain what the Treaty Alliance is and the reasons for opposition to the tar sands pipelines.

Clearly, the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion came as a consequence of the fact that for well over a decade indigenous peoples have become climate change refugees; in terms of wildfire evacuations in our northern indigenous communities, that’s been going on sometime – every summer, there’s massive wildfires that threaten northern communities. One the other side of the ledger, so to speak, we have massive flooding events that also have dislocated enormous numbers of indigenous peoples, who have been living in hotels and motels for up to the last five year period. The winter roads systems that our communities rely on, that are so critical to get in supplies during the winter months, are no longer available as they were in the past, and as a consequence, all food materials and supplies are flown in by air and the prices are absolutely astronomical. It’s just a travesty that these conditions exist, and we all know that it’s a consequence of global warming and climate change. The arctic ice is not as reliable was in the the past and that has an impact on the Inuit in terms of their hunting and that economy. Indigenous peoples are more greatly impacted by climate change and global warming, and as a consequence we know and understand that we simply cannot afford any further fossil fuel industry infrastructure to be developed. We have developed a treaty, British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec, so far, have had signing ceremonies and we’re well over 100 First Nations across this country that have made that a very solemn commitment – to be part of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion and everything that that represents.

Grand Chief Phillip, what’s next? Are there treaty mechanisms that can be invoked to stage a legal fight in Canadian courts?

Well, essentially, we’re much stronger together and we’re in a position to pool our legal advisory resources and there’s a lot of networking going on between the legal councils that represent all of our individual interests; they’re coming together and are developing legal strategies, political strategies and in the event that these lines are actually at the point of construction, there will be action on the ground to stop the bulldozers, so to speak. This is a multifaceted campaign, it’s going to be a long, ugly, protracted, legal, political and direct action battle; it’s going to span a number of years. There was a time in this country when yes did mean yes, but now, in this litigious environment, and with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we are in a position to push back in a very effective way. At the end of the day, these projects demand indigenous consent and the answer is still no.

While the Treaty Alliance channels First Nations opposition to tar sands projects in Canada, what are your thoughts on the current events around indigenous resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota?

What’s taking place at Standing Rock, North Dakota underscores the fact that climate change and global warming, and the threats to water – this is an epic battle of water versus oil – the underlying issues at the end of the day are survival or extinction. That’s playing itself out at Standing Rock. My wife Joan and I drove from Penticton, British Columbia all the way to Standing Rock in September and met with Tribal Chair Dave Archambault and members of his tribal council. And we went to the camp and we left our Union of BC Indian Chiefs flag, as well as our Okanagan Nation tribal council flag, as symbols of our solidarity. Both those flags are flying over the camp at Standing Rock. We certainly have added our political voice to supporting the people at Standing Rock. I’m going to be attending a rally and march in downtown Vancouver this evening, which has dedicated itself to an expression of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip is an Okanagan Aboriginal leader and has served as president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs since 1998. He joined FSRN by phone.


Native Women: Leading the Fight Against the Tar Sands 

Faith Spotted Eagle, Ihanktonwan Dakota Signatory to the Treaty to Protect the Sacred. Testified at public hearing in Nebraska against Keystone XL. 

Crystal Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree Grassroots activist, organizing in Alberta against tar sands devastation on her nation’s territory. In 2012, she was a delegate to the UN Rio+20 Summit. 

Debra White Plume, Oglala Lakota Organizer with Moccasins on the Ground, which trains Native people an allies in direct action tactics in anticipation of the approval of Keystone XL North 

Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabeg One of the founders of the Indigenous Women’s Network, founder of Honor the Earth. Longtime indigenous activist, LaDuke is (at the time of writing) riding across the length of Enbridge’s pipelines in Minnesota to raise awareness.

Casey Camp-Horineck, Ponca Actress and activist, Camp-Horineck provided important support and guidance to Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance in their work stopping construction of KXL south

Tantoo Cardinal, Metis/Cree Born in Ft McMurray, Cardinal was arrested outside the White House at the massive 2011 sit-in against the Keystone XL pipeline. She has continued to organize against Keystone XL. 

**This in no way encompasses all the accomplishments of these women.**


Over the past four years, the Unist'ot'en clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation have literally built a strategy to keep three proposed oil and gas pipelines from crossing their land. Concerned about the environmental damage a leak could cause on land they’ve never given up, they’ve constructed a protection camp to block pipeline companies. As opposition to the development of Alberta’s tar sands and to fracking projects grows across Canada, with First Nations communities on the front lines, the Unist'ot'en camp is an example of resistance that everyone is watching. 

Canadian First Nations, U.S. tribes form alliance to stop oil pipelines
Agreement signed in Montreal, Vancouver on Thursday

First Nations communities from Canada and the northern United States signed a treaty on Thursday to jointly fight proposals to build more pipelines to carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands, saying further development would damage the environment.

The treaty, signed in Montreal and Vancouver, came as the politics around pipelines have become increasingly sensitive in North America, with the U.S. Justice Department intervening last week to delay construction of a contentious pipeline in North Dakota.

The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion was signed by 50 aboriginal groups in North America, who also plan to oppose tanker and rail projects in both countries, they said in a statement.

Targets include projects proposed by Kinder Morgan Inc, TransCanada Corp and Enbridge Inc.

While aboriginal groups have long opposed oil sands development, the treaty signals a more coordinated approach to
fight proposals.

Among the treaty’s signatories is the Standing Rock Sioux tribe who opposes the Dakota pipeline.

“What this treaty means is that from Quebec, we will work with allies in (British Columbia) to make sure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline does not pass,” Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon said in the statement.

“And we will also work with our tribal allies in Minnesota as they take on Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion, and we know they’ll help us do the same against Energy East,” he said, referring to TransCanada’s plan to carry 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from Alberta to Canada’s East Coast.

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“This is sacred—this Indian land. And it is sacred not just for First Nations, it is sacred for everybody. We are all here, we all share this. We all share in the responsibility.

“Keep using your voices. Keep standing strong.”

Audrey Siegel, Musqueam leader

Hundreds of protestors are gathering to rally against Kinder Morgan’s controversial pipeline survey work on Burnaby Mountain, despite a court injunction and $5.5 million lawsuit. This isn’t just about land exploitation. It’s about intimidation tactics, oil money and undemocratic government. More than anything, it’s about the power of the people to defend our land and our future.

We will not be divided. We will not be defeated.

Photos by Jackie Dives

Daryl Hannah arrested for protesting proposed Canadian oilsands pipeline
Actress Daryl Hannah, famous for her movie roles in Splash and Wall Street, was among dozens of anti-oilsands activists arrested Tuesday at the White House in ongoing “sit in” protests against TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

“Stop the Keystone pipeline,” Hannah shouted as she was being handcuffed by SWAT team officers. “No to the Keystone pipeline.” (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Justin Trudeau approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline which will run from Canadian oil sands to the Pacific Ocean. The pipeline, which will put Tsleil Waututh First Nations tribal land at risk of oil spills and contamination, undermines every false promise made by Justin Trudeau to put the environment and the safety of FN people first. Trudeau is literally just a liar who has done nothing but break his most important promises to Canadians and further marginalize already marginalized people

'This Is My Act of Love': Climate Activists Shut Down All US-Canada Tar Sands Pipelines
Coordinated show of resistance executed in solidarity with those fighting against Dakota Access pipeline

Five activists shut down all the tar sands pipelines crossing the Canada-U.S. border Tuesday morning, in a bold, coordinated show of climate resistance amid the ongoing fight against the Dakota Access pipeline.

The activists employed manual safety valves to shut down Enbridge’s line 4 and 67 in Leonard, Minnesota; TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota; Spectra Energy’s Express pipeline in Coal Banks Landing, Montana; and Kinder-Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline in Anacortes, Washington.

The activists, who planned the action to coincide with the International Days of Prayer and Action With Standing Rock, expressed feeling “duty bound to halt the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels…in the absence of any political leadership” to address the withering goal of keeping global temperature increase beneath the 2°C climate threshold.

“I have signed hundreds of petitions, testified at dozens of hearings, met with most of my political representatives at every level, to very little avail,” said 64-year-old mother Annette Klapstein of Bainbridge Island, Washington, who was arrested just before publication. “I have come to believe that our current economic and political system is a death sentence to life on earth, and that I must do everything in my power to replace these systems with cooperative, just, equitable and love-centered ways of living together. This is my act of love.”

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It’s Getting Hot in Here: Mother Nature Lays the Climate Cards on the Table

Another brilliant climate-themed cartoon from The Los Angeles Times’ David Horsey. Check out more of his work here.


To uncover the truth, it’s often best to land “on the ground.” But sometimes obstacles—physical or bureaucratic or even mental—obscure our view. Then, it’s sometimes better to take to the sky and get perspective.

Photographer Alex MacLean has been doing just that—snapping photos from the air—for nearly 40 years. His photos reveal the overlooked scale of American car culture. They peek over the fences of military bases. They connect the dots between digging coal and generating electricity.

Alex will ride the skies above Alberta’s oil sands for a week beginning April 4th. We know the ground beneath Alberta’s boreal forest—saturated with an estimated 150 billion barrels of oil—rivals all other troves of oil apart from those of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. We know Alberta’s rich deposits underlie a territory of 54,000 square miles, as large as Iowa. But we can barely comprehend numbers this big.

Alex will help us. He’ll show us waste ponds nearly the size of Manhattan and dump trucks that could swallow a McMansion whole.  

We’ll report from the ground as well. We’ll talk to regulators, mining companies, the miners themselves and many others. Stay tuned.

Images by Alex MacLean with text by Dan Grossman.

Follow Dan and Alex reporting from Alberta @GrossmanMedia.

Alberta’s sands are the world’s third largest oil reserve and one of Earth’s largest industrial projects. The Big Picture: Alberta’s Oil Sands shows the preliminary photos and writing. 

To learn more and help support the work, visit Tar Sands Truth Indiegogo Campaign.

Grossman's TED Book Deep Water is available to download.

Bill Nye 'the Science Guy' visits tar sands, calls it 'extraordinary exploitation' of environment

American science educator Bill Nye “the Science Guy” is in northern Alberta filming a climate change documentary.

Nye visited the tar sands and after taking an aerial tour of the mining areas told APTN National News it was a “depressive” sight to see.

“Producing all this oil that’s producing all this carbon dioxide, that’s not good from a global stand point,” said Nye.

“And from an environmental point of view locally, it’s astonishing and overwhelming.”

He went on to say that it’s difficult to describe witnessing the scale of industrial activity that is taking place and that he was “amazed” at the size of production happening in the tar sands, and the damage it is causing.

“Furthermore consider all the toxins that are being used to move the fluid around and then they put in these enormous ponds, or lakes, or encampments,” he said. “It’s very much out of nature’s natural state.”

Nye visited the community of Fort McKay First Nation Monday. Fort McKay is encamped by tar sands activity and has suffered the consequences of environmental damages over the many decades since the tar sands were discovered in their traditional territories.

He said after learning of the community’s history and relationship with industry he thinks Fort McKay still has a battle ahead of them.

“I think anybody would say that First Nations have rights that have been abridged or catastrophically curtailed,” said Nye.

However, he added that Indigenous people can have an impact on climate change if their treaties are held up to law.

While in Fort McMurray, Nye noticed the local news headlines regarding the province’s grim financial situation and rising unemployment. The new Alberta NDP government provided its first fiscal update today revealing a deficit of almost $6 billion and growing.

He called it the “boom and bust of oil.”

Nye said hope for the environment may lie in the upcoming Canadian federal election and said “everybody is talking about the very strong possibility” that the Harper government will be voted out.

If that were to happen, new leaders with different views and values regarding the environment would be helpful to address the climate change issue, he said.

“Everybody says they feel like the tipping point’s been reached. Everyone we speak with, where enough is enough kind of thing. But then you have people that are in denial of climate change, who justify all of this extraordinary exploitation to the environment,” he said. “It’s amazing the scale of it, is just very hard to believe and very troubling.”

Nye is one of a growing number of celebrity big names that have visited the Alberta oil sands in recent years others have included actor Leonardo DiCaprio, singer/songwriter Neil Young and South African social rights activist Desmond Tutu.

Nye is working on his freelance film titled Bill Nye’s Global Meltdown. He was joined by National Geographic filming a separate feature.

Bill Nye Talks About Canadian Oil and the Certainty of Climate Change

Yesterday, Bill Nye touched down in Toronto to attend the International Astronautical Congress, an annual gathering where space enthusiasts (where, as Nye says, the nerd factor is “turned up to 11”) share research papers. Since his mega-hit show, Nye has taken the reigns of the Planetary Society, an organization founded by Carl Sagan in the 1980s that focuses on science advocacy, research, and outreach.

As the CEO of the Planetary Society, Bill Nye is clearly using his powers as a celebrity scientist for good. During a keynote speech at the University of Toronto last night, he discussed a project the Planetary Society was developing to conquer the possibility of an asteroid hitting Earth. Their solution? Laser bees. These “bees” are tiny robots that surround an offending asteroid and by using mirrors, “focus sunlight onto a spot on the asteroid” that can “gently move it.”

Anyhow, I caught up with Bill Nye before his speech to chat about Canada, the tar sands, and the Harper government’s muzzling of scientists. 

Bill Nye: I’m hip with VICE, I’m down with the VICE.
VICE: Oh awesome, that’s good to hear. Let’s jump right into it then… Climate change has been immensely politicized. How do you respond to outside influences, like industry and government, that try and control the message of the scientific community?
The government in Canada is currently being influenced by the fossil fuel industry. [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper is a controversial guy in the science community because [of] the policies, especially in western Canada, with regard to the production—that’s the verb they use, “producing,” but you’re taking old earth and burning it. [The production] of tar sands, oil shale… is there tar shale? Is there sand goo? Whatever.

I used to work in the oil field, albeit much farther south, in Texas and New Mexico. Oil is noxious, but it’s not that noxious as stuff to spill on the ground. However, when you start taking this tar sand and oil shale, where you’re you’re strip mining many, many tons of earth to get to this stuff, and then you have to burn a lot of it to make it soupy enough to pump. The environmental impact is huge!  And there was some trouble with some train cars, and some explosions.

A town exploded.
Yeah. This is all stuff that could be controlled, but part of it, at least for me as an engineer, is that the extraction methods in that part of the world are so aggressive, it’s so hard to get this stuff to [a point where it’s] useful. The bad news, writ large, is that we’ll never run out of fossil fuels. There’s so much stuff, so much coal, so much tar sand oil shale everywhere around the world that we’ll never use it up. But we will use up the really easy to burn gasoline, easy to burn diesel fuel.


Canada has the world’s third-largest oil reserve, and it’s worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Nearly all of that crude is contained in Alberta’s oil sands. Getting the oil from underground and into your car requires an extraordinary mining effort that has significant effects on the environment and is expensive.

In a world concerned about climate change and in which oil prices have plummeted, the oil sands industry faces an uncertain future.

Environmental activists have celebrated a few victories recently. Last month, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have transported oil sands crude from land-locked Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast, giving producers access to the world market.

Another victory for environmentalists came when Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced that her government will limit carbon emissions from the oil sands business at 100 million tons a year. That could put a damper on the industry’s projected growth and prevent Alberta from taking full advantage of its huge oil reserve. That is, unless companies can figure out how to develop the resource and prevent carbon pollution. Shell believes it has a solution.

In November, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden was among dignitaries who turned a big, yellow ceremonial valve to mark the opening of the Quest carbon capture and storage project.

It captures about one-third of the carbon dioxide emissions from Shell’s oil sands upgrader plant. Then the company injects that CO2 deep underground so it stays out of the atmosphere.

Between Cheap Gas And Carbon Caps, Oil Sands Face Uncertain Fate

GIF: Annette Elizabeth Allen and Alyson Hurt/NPR

Dear Fellow Canadians,

I feel like it is not brought up enough, especially by our government, that the Native Americans in our country are being treated extremely poorly. 

Firstly, “Indigenous women are going missing and being murdered at a much higher rate than other women in Canada—a rate so high it constitutes nothing less than a national human rights crisis” This is a quote from the Amnesty International site, there have over 1,500 Aboriginal women missing in Canada, the number is estimated because a lot of cases have gone undocumented, so this number could be higher, these women are going missing purely because of their race.

This site can keep you updated on this subject 

Secondly, there is a economic crisis in Iqaluit, the people who inhabit this area are dealing with starvation due to the food cost crisis. They have to pay nearly 11 dollars for a bag of milk and 27 dollars for a jug of orange juice. 

Multiple news networks have covered this but I have yet to see our government speak out.

Thirdly, The oil sands in Alberta have been causing a 30% growth in cancer in aboriginal people, due to the pollution to their fish.

Again, I haven’t seen Stephan Harper talk about the cancer rate increase 

The Native Americans in our country face a great deal of racism, we as a country need to start treating the original founders of Canada with respect. WE stole THEIR land and now we make it unsafe for them to live on it. 

Seeking SciNote, Biology: The Impact of Using Oil Sands


What are some detrimental effects of the exploiting oil sands (such as those in Alberta, Canada) on the environment? 

Asked by Anonymous.

Oil sands have definitely been a hot button topic as of late, and for good reason. Oil sands, also known as tar sands, are a mixture of clay, sand, water, and bitumen, a very viscous black oil. The oil sands can be processed to extract the bitumen, and therefore areas containing these oil sands are in high demand as fuel sources. While tar sands are found in many places worldwide, including in the US, the largest deposits in the world are found in Canada (Alberta), Venezuela, and various countries in the Middle East.

It is estimated that it takes about two tons of tar sands to produce one barrel of oil, and roughly 75% of the bitumen can be recovered from sand. However, this process can be very intensive and requires an extensive amount of resources. Both mining and processing of oil sands generate a variety of environmental worries, such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions from the energy required to process them, disturbance of mined land, impacts on wildlife through habitat loss, and pollution of waterways and air.

There is also concern for the large amount of water required for tar sands processing. Currently, extraction and processing of oil sands require several barrels of water to produce a single barrel of oil, though some of the water can be recycled. Public health concerns include levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in air and water, which can be quite toxic to humans, and the presence of heavy metal compounds, such as cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, and zinc (1). These are what are referred to as priority pollutants, which are a set of regulated chemicals as defined in this case by the government of Alberta, Canada.

Bioaccumulation and biomagnification also present major issues that result from the release of heavy metal compounds into the environment. These happen when chemicals accumulate in the tissue of organisms through respiration, ingestion, or direct contact with contaminated water or sediment, over time leading to high levels of things like mercury in organisms at the top of the food chain due to their high consumption of lower-level species. As demonstrated in the image below, the neurotoxin methylmercury (MeHg) can build up in the foods that humans eat, meaning that the pollution from the oil sands presents a problem for wildlife and humans alike (2).

[Methylmercury traveling up the food web, http://tn.gov/health/article/mercury]    
When the aforementioned compounds are released into the environment during oil sand processing, there is no natural process prepared to remove them all from the food chain before they can be consumed. This is why efforts to make these processes cleaner and safer for the environment are so important.

Read more here:

  1. Kelly, E.N., D.W. Schindler, P.V. Hodson, J.W. Short, R. Radmanovich, and C.C. Nielsen (2010). Oil sands development contributes elements toxic at low concentrations to the Athabasca River and its tributaries.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(37), 16178-16183.
  2. Kirk, J.L., D.C.G. Muir, A. Gleason, X. Wang, G. Lawson, R.A. Frank, I. Lehnherr, and F. Wrona (2014). Atmospheric deposition of mercury and methylmercury to landscapes and waterbodies of the Athabasca oil sands region. Environmental Science & Technology 48(13), 7374-7383.
  3. The Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel: Environmental and Health Impacts of Canada’s Oil Sands Industry 
  4. Alberta Energy: Fast Facts on Oil Sands 

Answered by Rachel R, Expert Leader, and John M, Expert

Edited by James H., Editor

100 Indigenous Nations in US and Canada Join Forces in Opposition of Pipeline Expansion
Standing Rock's Sioux Tribe, the Union of BC Chiefs, and many more Indigenous leaders signed a treaty to prevent expansion of the tar sands.

Across North America, more than 100 Indigenous leaders have signed a treaty against Alberta’s tar sands, effectively putting those who want to build oil sands pipelines—including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—on notice.

By signing the treaty, Indigenous nations agree to help other nations when they face a fight against a major tar sands pipeline.

The expansion of the tar sands “can only happen” if new pipelines are approved, the treaty states. The treaty’s signatories are therefore against the following pipelines that would carry oil sands products to North America’s coasts: Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Alberta Clipper pipelines, TransCanada’s Energy East and Keystone XL pipelines, and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, “any of which, if allowed, would lead to a major expansion of the Tar Sands.”

Trudeau is under pressure from petroleum advocates and Canada’s Conservative opposition to approve a major pipeline that would carry Alberta oil to international markets—something he has repeatedly said he is in favour of doing, as long as it’s done in a “responsible” way that includes First Nation consultation. But that pressure comes at the same time that a groundswell of Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island (the Indigenous name for North America) are rising up against pipeline projects, using both legal challenges and encampments on traditional territory, as seen at Standing Rock, to assert their land rights and delay pipeline construction.

At the treaty signing in Vancouver, the line of chiefs in regalia waiting to add their names “filled an entire room,” according to the National Observer. Leaders were invited to sign in Vancouver, where part of the Trans Mountain pipeline would be built, and Montreal, which sits along the proposed Energy East route. Treaty signatories included Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Chiefs, Standing Rock’s Sioux Tribe, and Grand Chief Serge Simon of Kanesatake, who has stridently opposed Energy East, and who represents a reserve that famously stood up to the RCMP during the 1990 Oka land crisis.

“We are going to stick together and we’re going to protect each other right across the country,” Simon told reporters Thursday, according to the Canadian Press. Simon added that the pipeline resistance would aim to be peaceful.

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