Indigenous Response to Leaked CAPP Memo: our Rights are Not up for Discussion
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, April 17, 2020, Edmonton, AB, amiskwacîwâskahikan | ᐊᒥᐢᑲᐧᒋᐋᐧᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ | Papaschase Cree First Nation & Treaty Six Territory | Métis Nation Regional Zone 4 - Today environmental groups, provincial and federal ministers responded to the contents of a leaked memo from Canada’s largest oil and gas lobby group, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). The memo outlines more than 30 requests to suspend environmental regulations, laws and policies due to the economic and public health crisis. One of the most alarming requests includes a delay for the implementation of federal legislation on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a law that would further ensure the protection of Indigenous rights and support the protection of local ecosystems.
Indigenous Climate Action (ICA) and other Indigenous organizations across the country are alarmed by the requests of CAPP and their lack of forewarning of this memo. UNDRIP serves as an important tool not only for Indigenous communities but in the global challenge to find solutions to the current climate and economic crisis. Indigenous models of land stewardship, economics and way of life provide critical blueprints for planetary survival and are informing new standards of environmental policies the world over.
“When ICA was informed about this memo yesterday, we reached out to some key Indigenous communities and organizations to find out if they were aware of the lobby efforts of CAPP or a leaked memo,” explains Eriel Deranger, Executive Director with Indigenous Climate Action. “We were taken aback to find out that they were not. It is alarming to know that we are the last to know about activities that could have dire consequences not only to our health and safety but the survival of our inherent and treaty rights. This isn’t new to us and it's time these deliberate strategies meant to undermine Indigenous Peoples' land rights are called out.”
The CAPP memo articulates some disturbing requests to delay introduction of legislation in support of UNDRIP and strategic assessment of climate change, claiming that COVID19 would make it impossible to continue with consultation and “To ensure alignment with the do no harm principle...” on these increasingly important issues.
“CAPP’s requests to the Federal government undermine the rights of our communities, which is completely outside of their jurisdiction. Our rights are not something to be negotiated by oil and gas lobbyists,” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC). “For decades our communities have been tirelessly working to ensure that our lands and ecosystems are protected by advocating for stronger policies, monitoring and reporting that ensure our cultural survival. We should have been made aware of these efforts by CAPP immediately, not after the fact.”
“The fact that CAPP is requesting a delay in legislating UNDRIP indicates the strength of our rights. In many parts of the country, and the world, Indigenous Peoples are leading the way in advocating for and securing environmental protection, not because we are environmentalists, but because we, as a people, are tied to the land, the water, and the air. Our rights are tied to every policy and no decisions should be made on our behalf,” stated Clayton Thomas-Muller, Indigenous Rights Advocate and member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation.
“As long as oil and gas development is proceeding during the pandemic, so too should work on the law and policy that Indigenous communities can use to engage or respond to resource development. CAPP's campaign to delay Indigenous rights legislation on the basis of consultation challenges is hypocritical,” said Hayden King, Executive Director, Yellowhead Institute.
In addition to UNDRIP, the requests outlined in CAPP’s memo would further impact migratory birds, the testing of pollution from stacks or inspections of activities that could cause harm to fisheries in bodies of water. Many of these impacts are felt most deeply by Indigenous communities who have been leading environmental and climate policy reform. Yet, reporting on this has lacked an Indigenous voice. The omission of our voices, experiences and our rights as individuals and as a collective demonstrates how we are continually undervalued.
“Our communities in the Arctic are experiencing life and death consequences of climate change. Our way of life has been under attack since colonization. We have seen our lands ripped up for oil and gas that is now contributing to out of control climate change putting our communities on the verge of extinction,” stated Bryanna Brown, Inuk Labrador Land Protector.
Further, Rosalie LaBillois, co-chair of the AFN Youth Council and member of Eel River Bar First Nation, stated, “As an Indigneous youth, UNDRIP is vital for our future, it not only ensures that we are a part of framing what climate solutions look like but what our entire economic systems will look like. Pandemic or not, our rights are not up for dirty oil and gas companies to determine. If you want to do no harm, then maybe you should listen when our communities say no and let us determine what we need. Governments need to stop pandering to oil and gas at the expense of our rights and our future.”
The demand for oil has dropped and it has become clear that continued extraction and construction of oil and gas pipelines are non-essential. The best way to keep our communities safe is for the extractive industry to halt their business, like every other non-essential service in the world right now.
If anyone is looking for ways to support Indigenous communities right now, here are a few ideas:
reach out to your local Indigenous community to see if they are in need of any donations;
check out ICA’s list of frontline organizations serving Indigenous communities that are in need of funds right now; and
During this time of uncertainty and fear, our communities should have the space to focus on our safety and wellbeing, not being made to work against the oil and gas lobby as they attempt to once again trample on our rights.
Media Contact: Lindsey Bacigal, Director of Communications firstname.lastname@example.org Indigenous Climate Action is the only Indigenous-led climate justice organization in Canada. # # #