ICA & Frontline Community Members Respond to Alberta’s Continued Investment in Extractive Industries
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2020, Edmonton, AB, amiskwacîwâskahikan | ᐊᒥᐢᑲᐧᒋᐋᐧᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ | Papaschase Cree First Nation & Treaty Six Territory | Métis Nation Regional Zone 4 - Last week, the government of Alberta made a series of alarming and contradicting announcements. On March 31 it was announced over 20,000 people working in education would lose their jobs so the province could save $128 Mil to alleviate COVID19 costs. This was quickly followed by an announcement to invest up to $7.5 Bil into TC Energy Corporation's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline making a mockery of the money saved by laying off educators. The week ended with an announcement to suspend environmental reporting requirements under the Water Act, the Public Lands Act and the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
Indigenous Climate Action (ICA) deems these announcements made by the Alberta Government as fiscal mismanagement and demonstrate the continued disregard of long-standing environmental, human and Indigenous rights abuses in the province. This is echoed by organizations like 350.org, and public opinion leaders like Naomi Klien who have emphasized how the global pandemic is lending to the price of oil plummeting to an all-time low making fossil fuel economies non-viable. This reality was demonstrated in February when Teck Resources pulled its application for the Frontier Mine and moved investment to solar energy, and now the countless companies that are delaying projects and laying off employees.
“I’m not surprised by this government,” comments Mike Mercredi, a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation residing in the downstream community of Fort Chipewyan.
“Jason Kenny has repeatedly indicated that he does not value the health of our communities and continues to ignore signs from the global economy that fossil fuel projects do not align with future plans for prosperity. We are in a global pandemic and rather than responding with investments that support critical infrastructure for Indigenous communities and small businesses, they’re trying to capitalize on a crisis. They are clearly trying to further their agenda to expand toxic tar sands infrastructure, regardless of the futility of the effort and with a complete disregard for Indigenous rights and sovereignty. Imagine what could be done if the money invested in the KXL was invested in a transition in the province? This government is failing our future generations,” concluded Mercredi.
“If the Alberta government does not have the capability to manage regulations, policies, and legislation that ensures the health and safety of communities and upholds and respects our inherent Indigneous and treaty rights, perhaps they should be put under third party management,” comments Jesse Cardinal, Executive Director of Keepers of the Water and member of the Kikino Metis Settlement.
“Environmental protections have been put in place to protect everyone in this province. Furthermore, a lack of environmental protection also equates a failure to protect the inherent Indigenous and treaty rights of our communities. Our rights are synonymous to access to healthy ecosystems, healthy food, clean water, and clean air,” concluded Cardinal.
Eriel Deranger, ICA Executive Director further commented, “It’s irrational to invest in projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, that much like the TMX pipeline, is heavily contested by Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities along its proposed route. These antiquated energy and economic projects impede the sovereignty and self-determination of communities at the source, along the pipelines and refineries, and push the planet into further climate chaos.”
“Now is the time for a fundamental shift away from these dirty extractive economic models. The current pandemic has highlighted a dire need for more investment in food, housing, education, health and financial equity for all, not more dirty energy projects. The acts of the Alberta government over the last week demonstrate a lack of leadership and understanding of what it takes to ensure a just climate future for all,” Deranger concluded.
Lindsey Bacigal, Director of Communications
Indigenous Climate Action is the only Indigenous-led climate justice organization in Canada.
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