Bill McKibben, of 350.org fame, has written a cogent analysis of the current Idle No More movement. And his conclusion is one that we have been espousing for the past three years.
But there’s a stumbling block they hadn’t counted on, and that was the resurgent power of the Aboriginal Nations. Some Canadian tribes have signed treaties with the Crown, and others haven’t, but none have ceded their lands, and all of them feel their inherent rights are endangered by Harper’s power grab. They are, legally and morally, all that stand in the way of Canada’s total exploitation of its vast energy and mineral resources, including the tar sands, the world’s second largest pool of carbon. NASA’s James Hansen has explained that burning that bitumen on top of everything else we’re combusting will mean it’s “game over for the climate.” Which means, in turn, that Canada’s First Nations are in some sense standing guard over the planet. [emphasis added]
And luckily the sentiment is spreading south. Tribal Nations in the U.S., though sometimes with less legal power than their Canadian brethren, are equally effective organizers — later this month, for instance, an international gathering of indigenous peoples and a wide-ranging list of allies on the Yankton Sioux territory in South Dakota may help galvanize continued opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which would help wreck those tar sands by carrying the oil south (often across reservations) to the Gulf of Mexico. American leaders like Winona LaDuke of the White Earth Indian Reservation have joined in the fight with a vengeance, drawing the connections between local exploitation and global climate change.
Corporations and governments have often discounted the power of native communities — because they were poor and scattered in distant places, they could be ignored or bought off. But in fact their lands contain much of the continent’s hydrocarbon wealth — and, happily, much of its wind, solar and geo-thermal resources, as well. The choices that Native people make over the next few years will be crucial to the planet’s future — and #IdleNoMore is an awfully good sign that the people who have spent the longest in this place are now rising artfully and forcefully to its defense.
RAVEN’S support of the Beaver Lake Cree legal action – set to move forward in a big way on March 22, 2013 when it is expected the judge will set a trial date – is based on much of this. Our long range goal is to see this litigation through to a Supreme Court of Canada decision that the expansion of the tar sands developments infringes on the BLCN constitutionally-guaranteed treaty rights. The decision would render any activity illegal and unconstitutional.
This brave court battle goes to the heart of the need to protect First Nations traditional lands, culture and rights while protecting against further environmental destruction and devastation of habitat. By using the courts as a way to bring about substantive change, RAVEN hopes to leave a lasting legacy – befitting the underlying motive for the Idle No More movement and the native activists who steward our land despite the obstacles – a legacy that benefits all Canadians and ultimately everyone on this planet.
Posted by Admin Thursday Jan 10, 2013 10:33
Categories: Beaver Lake Cree, Climate Change, Environment | Tags: