ICA calls for rejection of Teck Frontier Mine in Treaty No. 8 territory
On Friday, November 22nd Indigenous Climate Action hosted a press conference in Amiskwacîwâskahikan, Edmonton on Treaty No. 6, with numerous local groups to call for the rejection of what would be the largest-ever open-pit tar sands mine: the Teck Frontier Mine.
Click here to watch the livestream and here from Eriel Deranger with Indigenous Climate Action, Batul Gulamhusein with Climate Justice Edmonton, Kyran Auger with Keepers of the Water, Bronwen Tucker with Oil Change International and Nigel Henri Robinson, Beaverhills Warriors speak to the many reasons why it is essential to reject the Teck Frontier Mine.
Starting off in a good way, Nigel Henri Robinson and Kyra Auger opened up the press event with a smudge, supporting the call to action to be grounded in a good way that honours our Mother Earth.
Frontier is the largest open pit oil sands mine ever proposed and, if built, would guarantee that Canada will not meet its climate commitments, while also representing a failure to uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
If built, Teck Resources Ltd’s Frontier Mine would be on Treaty 8 territory in an area with little to no industrial development — and home to one of the last existing, free-roaming, disease-free herds of wood bison. This area is also directly along the migration route for the only wild population of endangered whooping crane, in close proximity to many Indigenous settlements, and 30 km from the boundary of UNESCO World Heritage siteWood Buffalo National Park— an area valued and protected for its cultural and biodiversity.
The project is currently under joint federal-provincial review and Wilkinson is expected to make a decision to either approve or reject it by the end of February 2020. Over a dozen groups have authored a letter outlining their concerns to Minister Wilkinson citing the irreversible harm it will cause to the local economy and surrounding ecosystems and communities, including Indigenous communities in the Peace-Athabasca Delta.
“Local Indigenous peoples continue to assert existing tar sands projects are undermining their rights and nothing to date has reassured them that the massive impacts of the proposed Teck Frontier mine will be any different,” said Eriel Deranger, Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action. “This is Minister Wilkinson’s first opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to strong climate action and respect for Indigenous rights by rejecting the proposed Teck Frontier Mine.”
“Planning to mine further into critical ecosystems and lungs of the planet is not only a bad idea, it’s terrifying for any of us who want to breathe air, eat food and drink water,” comments Jesse Cardinal, Executive Director of Keepers of the Water. “The time to act is now, not after we’ve dug ourselves deeper into this crisis.”
Earlier this year, the Trudeau government declared a climate emergency and committed to curb carbon pollution. In less than a week, Minister Wilkinson will be representing Canada in the UN climate negotiations in Madrid, Spain. A report released this week by the UN Environment Programme showed that fossil fuel producers are on track to extract double the amount of fossil fuels that can be burned if warming is to stay under the Paris Agreement's limit of 1.5C.
“If approved the Teck Frontier Mine would directly compromise Canada’s ability to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement,” said Bronwen Tucker, an analyst with Oil Change International. “Instead of doubling down on a legacy of colonialism, we should be building a just transition that upholds Indigenous rights, protects workers, and gets us to a liveable future."
The network is still inviting other groups and individuals to add their names to the call to reject the Teck Frontier Mine.
The public and Indigenous groups can comment on potential environmental assessment conditions for the project until Nov. 24. Following this, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change is to consider comments received as well as the panel report in order to make an environmental assessment decision for the project.
This project’s life-cycle emissions would be equivalent to permanently adding about 10 million new cars on the road— equalling approximately 60 million tonnes of CO2 a year. Counting only emissions from production, this would still be about 830,000 new cars on the road.
The mine will irreparably 29,000 hectares of Boreal Forest, located 30 km from UNESCO World Heritage Site and only 17 km from an Indigenous reservation. The mine will also destroy critical habitat for major species at risk including the wood bison and whooping crane.
The mine is expected to produce 260,000 barrels of oil per day, exacerbating the glut of oil for export and unnecessarily creating the case for the TMX pipeline at a time when Canada needs to shift away from fossil fuels under its climate commitments."
Canada could instead invest in long-term green economy jobs, with one report estimating that more than 145,000 jobs could be created in Alberta over the next five years.