Idle No More & Defenders of the Land stand in solidarity with Chippewas of the Thames First Nation in their legal challenge against Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline project.
Last April, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation (COTTFN) filed with the Federal Court of Appeal to challenge the National Energy Board (NEB) approval of Line 9, saying that the federal Crown provided no consultation with COTTFN on the project, as is their right. Line 9 crosses through Chippewas of the Thames’ traditional and treaty territory, including the Thames River which provides a source of drinking water to the First Nation.
Line 9 crosses every major tributary that flows into Lake Ontario. A spill from Line 9 could threaten the drinking water of over 10 million people and devastate rivers with bitumen that cannot be cleaned up.
Despite the COTTFN court challenge and requests from several municipalities to conduct an environmental assessment, the NEB approved Enbridge’s request to reverse the flow of the line, increase its capacity, and use it to transport diluted bitumen and fracked oil. Bitumen has proved to be detrimental to public health and the environment as evidenced by the Michigan Kalamazoo River spill in 2010 and numerous other spills across North America. The serious toll of fracking on health and the environment is also increasingly coming to light as more fracked oil and contaminated wastewater spill.
Line 9 would also contribute to the expansion of the tar sands by providing another export route. The tar sands emit massive amounts of CO2 and are creating a toxic sacrifice zone in much of Alberta. Several communities near the tar sands, including Fort Chipewyan, have reported cancer clusters and massive ecological changes threatening wildlife populations and traditional food systems.
The NEB’s approval of Line 9 is a violation of COTTFN’s treaty rights, which are affirmed in Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. The Line 9 approval is also a direct violation of internationally recognized Indigenous rights, which include the right of free, prior, and informed consent, as stated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
For these reasons, we support Chippewas of the Thames First Nation in their legal challenge to Line 9 and urge the court to hold the NEB accountable to its treaty responsibilities as a body of the Canadian government.