Statement from Indigenous Climate Action on Revival of Keystone XL Pipeline
Today President Trump announced the revival of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a move welcomed by the Prime Minister Trudeau and Natural Resource Minister Jim Carr who were both “very pleased” with the announcement. The actions of both governments are a direct assault on the rights of Indigenous peoples, our waterways and the safe guarding of the ecosystems critical for climate stabilization and Indigenous cultural survival. The KXL pipeline would traverse through and near countless Indigenous communities who’s voices and rights have been systematically excluded from the process.
We must not allow Prime Minister Trudeau’s parroting of Trump’s climate and Indigenous rights denialism. The actions of Trudeau and Trump are taking us away from meeting commitments laid out in the Paris Agreement - to achieve the 1.5 degree climate threshold that includes the recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples as describe within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. President Trump, and Prime Minister Trudeau’s complicit actions, today are clear indicators they have no regard for their obligations to address climate change or the recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples.
We can’t ignore the fact that the tar sands oil that will flow through the KXL pipeline is being extracted from lands and territories of Indigenous peoples who have been forced into economic hostage scenarios - putting communities in positions that forces them to chose between fighting for their cultural survival or putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. Tar sands extraction continues to lead to the cumulative contamination and destruction of critical waterways, hunting, fishing, trapping, gathering and sacred sites of numerous Indigenous communities, while simultaneously being the largest single emitter of emissions in the country. Many Indigenous communities within the extraction zones now have lower life expectancies, higher rates of cancer and auto-immune diseases and restricted access to traditional territories once guaranteed to them through treaty. No one should ever be forced to choose between feeding their children or protecting their culture and rights. Yet, we have allowed this to become a norm in Canada and the US.
While our focus is currently turned toward a single target, a tar sands pipeline, we should not lose sight of the larger structural issues that have allowed for this project, and many others like it including the Dakota Access Pipeline, to exist. Everyday, governments railroad extractive projects through Indigenous lands and territories that threaten their lands, waterways and cultural survival. The processes in which they are reviewed and approved actively suppresses Indigenous voice, rights and the direct correlation between environmental preservation and Indigenous right to self-determination.
In recent years we have seen the resurgence of Indigenous peoples in the political sphere yet we remain excluded from some of the most critical decisions over the protection and preservation of our climate, our territories and ultimately our culture. The revival of the KXL pipeline is a clear and present representation of this and sends a message that Indigenous peoples rights and survival are merely economic causalities in the race to exploit dirty fossil fuels there serve corporate and government greed while exacerbating climate change.
It is imperative that we come together with communities on both sides of the border to address the systemic issues that have allowed the Keystone XL and countless other extractive and destructive projects to continually be approved without the full recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples and that contribute the climate crisis we are currently faced with. We must work toward stopping these projects at the source.
The protection and preservation of Indigenous rights and culture is becoming an undeniably critical component of developing climate solutions that will help humanity achieve solutions to the crisis we are all locked in together. Therefore, full recognition and implementation of the rights of Indigenous peoples will be critical to us achieving true climate justice.