Join in the discussion!
We welcome your input...
Editor's Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of RAVEN, but only of the comment writer. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please note all comments are viewed by a moderator before posting.
Hunkering down - we've got work to do!Summer is usually a time for a slower pace, but in the world of defending our planet there's no pause in activity. Here at RAVEN, the need to keep our projects out front and centre is more crucial than ever. This is partly because of the recent failure of the Rio Earth Summit - though we sent emissaries on our behalf to share news of our work (it was not in our budget to go) - the end result of the gathering in Brazil was deeply disappointing. George Monbiot summarized Rio saying:
When you combine that with the passing of Bill C-38 last week by Royal Assent, it is clear that in Canada the courts remain the best chance we have to protect the rights of First Nations, and thereby protect our land from rampant industrial development that is incompatible with those rights - and possibly long-term human survival. In fact, Monbiot wrote in a column dated July 2, 2012:The efforts of governments are concentrated not on defending the living Earth from destruction, but on defending the machine that is destroying it. Whenever consumer capitalism becomes snarled up by its own contradictions, governments scramble to mend the machine, to ensure – though it consumes the conditions that sustain our lives – that it runs faster than ever before.
The thought that it might be the wrong machine, pursuing the wrong task, cannot even be voiced in mainstream politics. The machine greatly enriches the economic elite, while insulating the political elite from the mass movements it might otherwise confront.
There is enough oil in the ground to deepfry the lot of us, and no obvious means by which we might prevail upon governments and industry to leave it in the ground. Twenty years of efforts to prevent climate breakdown through moral persuasion have failed, with the collapse of the multilateral process at Rio de Janeiro last month. The world's most powerful nation is once again becoming an oil state, and if the political transformation of its northern neighbour is anything to go by, the results will not be pretty.
So, we are hunkering down through the dog days of summer to help Beaver Lake Cree Nation (BLCN) and the Tsilhqot'in Nation as they tough it out through the paperwork and processes of proving their rights are being infringed. This to us IS a way forward - and a way that can provide measurable results.
Last week, the lawyers for BLCN met in court with the legal teams from Canada and Alberta at a case management meeting. This was a meeting called for by Madam Justice Browne following her definitive ruling in March 2012 that the band will be allowed its day in court to prove that the cumulative impact of all the oil sands permits handed out (some 19,000) will infringe on their Constitutionally guaranteed rights to hunt, trap and fish on their traditional lands. (In case you missed the ruling, it means this remains an important case which will ultimately have a significant bearing on tar sands developments as well as developments in areas where cumulative effects have become a major issue.)
The upshot of the meeting was another win for BLCN. Madam Justice Browne squelched efforts to delay again and ordered Canada and Alberta to file their Statements of Defence by August 15th - something the band has been waiting for four years to see. This will nudge the case closer to the trial for which we continue to fundraise. We can't say this often enough: A declaration by the Supreme Court of Canada that the cumulative impact of the permits is unconstitutional means those permits are illegal, and thereby worthless. It will mean industry must actually stop what it is doing and work with the band to ensure the land, water and all living creatures are sustained in a healthy, permanent way.
On our other front, the Tsilqhot'in National Government and Xeni Gwet'in First Nation are deep into the second round of a federal environmental review to protect their sacred lake (Teztan Biny) and the surrounding pristine land and watershed area. And whilst this is underway, they received a court judgment that serves to strengthen their case. While they did not get the title declaration they hoped for, the Tsilhqot'in did see their rights firmed up substantially and in a way that will make it incredibly hard to push the mine through (from our lay perspective).
The Honourable Mr. Justice Groberman wrote in his judgment:
He went on to say: In considering Aboriginal title and Aboriginal rights, the Court must take into account Aboriginal perspective as well as that of the common law. The connection of the Tsilhqot’in Nation to its traditional territory has both spiritual and temporal aspects that are difficult to convey in the dry words of a judgment. This deep connection must, however, remain foremost in the Court’s mind in considering issues of Aboriginal title and Aboriginal rights. I am not convinced that the relationship of the Tsilhqot’in people to the land requires recognition of title on a territorial basis; it does, however, require the Court to affirm the existence of Aboriginal rights that respect the Tsilhqot’in perspective on its own culture and values. The recognition of such rights will serve to prevent incompatible uses of the land. [emphasis added]
 Aboriginal rights of various sorts protect cultural security and safeguard the ability of First Nations to continue to engage in traditional lifestyles.
And Justice Groberman then points out:
But the review process must proceed, so we are busy raising funds for that as well. Thanks to some very generous donors and foundations, included Donner Canadian Foundation and Fitzhenry Family Foundation, we raised the money needed for a crucial hydrogeology study. Once the Taseko Mines Ltd.'s environmental impact statement (EIS) is public - it will be clearer what other studies will be needed. And there will be funds required to help the Tsilhqot'in attend the hearings - as that is a costly venture moving an entire community from the remote area of Nemiah to the city of Williams Lake. In saying this, I recognize that very little logging actually took place in the Claim Area. As a result of the litigation, most activities were stopped. I do not think this fact precludes a finding that the Aboriginal rights of the Tsilhqot’in were infringed. The plaintiff did not have to wait until the traditional territory of the Tsilhqot’in was negatively impacted before seeking a declaration. The very acts of planning and authorizing logging infringed the Aboriginal rights of the Tsilhqot’in, since the planning and authorization were incompatible with those rights. [emphasis added]
So back to our original thought - as days get warm and the impetus to spend long hours inside diminishes - we are fueled by the tasks before us.
We might find a beautiful spot outdoors to take the laptops - like this bench at Hollyhock - but there's no time to waste. And if you have some time on your hands, we would welcome your help too!
Posted by Susan Smitten Tuesday Jul 03, 2012 11:26
Categories: Beaver Lake Cree, Climate Change, Environment , Fish Lake, RAVEN General, Teztan Biny | Tags: Aboriginal, Beaver Lake Cree, British Columbia, climate justice, court, donors, environment, First Nations, fund-raising, indigenous, lakes, mining, oil sands, Prosperity, tar sands, Taseko, Tsilhqot'in, water, Xeni Gwet'in
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010