What is First Nations Place in Pipeline Construction?

by andrewsd on October 12, 2016 - 9:45am

Conflicts between Canadian indigenous peoples, government and oil companies are increasing. Oil companies are looking to construct new pipelines to bring Alberta tar sands to other parts of the world but to do so they must interfere with indigenous peoples’ traditional territory.

What Perry Bellagarde, Assembly of First Nations Chief, brings to notion is that pipelines construction like Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline in British-Colombia should not start without the consent of the First Nations. He also warns government and oil companies that if projects are approved that they will be met with strong opposition and direct action.

            This comes after the new liberal government changed Canada’s objector status on the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) recognizing First Nation’s consent. Prior to the signing of UNDRIP the federal government only had the “duty to consult and accommodate” First Nations people.

             After reading UNDRIP it is my understanding that First Nations group can’t “veto” any project on their traditional territory. But they can argue that they are disturbing other rights outlined in UNDRIP like article 8.1 “Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.” The principle of “vetoing” a project leaves politicians uneasy and was the reason why the previous Harper government was an objector of UNDRIP.

Before the liberal signed onto UNDRIP the government only had a “duty to consult and accommodate” First Nations. Government would only have to tell First Nations that a project is going to go through on their traditional lands. The First Nations people have felt powerless because there is not much they can do to protect their lands. Therefore, consult and consent is significantly different.

Mr. Bellagarde says that First Nations support development but only if it is done responsibly. Instead of just being brought off with benefits by the government and companies, First Nations want to be an equal player on the developments frontier.  I agree with Perry Bellagarde and hope that the government and oil companies respect UNDRIP and First Nation communities. I would never support the destruction of a community or environment for cooperate greed especially my own community. The First Nations and oil companies exhibit value conflict. The oil companies value the lands for the money potential and the First Nations value their land for the environment and because it allows them to practice their culture.

I believe this “free, prior and informed consent” should be a practice within all communities not only First Nation communities. But more importantly, First Nations can exercise “self-determination” as outlined in UNDRIP article 4 “Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.”

In the context of pipeline construction and other large projects, I believe that First Nations should be equal partners to the oil companies, just as equal as the governing body oil companies must answer to. Oil companies should not have to get “consent” only from the government but also from First Nation communities. Companies must prove that their project will be environmentally safe and will not the damage the First Nations right to practice their culture.

 

 

References

Perry Bellegarde asserts importance of indigenous consent for pipelines. (2016). The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 5 October 2016, from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-a...

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. (2016). United Nations. Retrieved 5 October 2016, from http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf

Free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) | Forest Peoples Programme. (2016). Forestpeoples.org. Retrieved 5 October 2016, from http://www.forestpeoples.org/guiding-principles/free-prior-and-informed-...

Comments

It is unfair that First Nations were not given much power in deciding whether or not to approve pipeline construction. I am glad that the Liberal government has finally agreed to be part of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as it has provided First Nations people with more legislation to protect themselves and their land. The fact that First Nations communities still do not have much of a say on what happens to their lands is disappointing. I agree, First Nations should have as much right as the government in deciding whether the construction of an oil pipeline is allowed. The land is not just up for taking, it belongs to them and it should take more than the agreement of the government to take it from them.

There is obvious value conflict in this scenario as you said, but I believe there is also behavioural conflict. This conflict can be seen by the lack of communication between the oil extraction company and First Nations communities affected by the construction of the pipeline. It can also be seen by the lack of trust, likely resulting from conflicts that occurred from previous resource management decisions and legislature regarding their lands.

I chose to comment on your blog because the tittle captured my attention. I love to keep updated with environmental issues and can specially relate because my grandmother is aboriginal. She also lives in an area of BC (Kitimat) where plans for a pipeline have been circulating couple of years now. With that being said, not only was your tittle very descriptive, but it also made me wonder what your stance on the issue was, I just had to read more!

I am glad to read that you would never stand by a company who would bring destruction to a community just for profit and economic gain. I think that people often forget the way that they would react if pipelines were to be built around their community and children, and often jump to conclusions that aboriginal communities are just trying to be difficult. You also mentioned that aboriginals want nothing more but to be equal players with regard to the development in their community, and you could not have been more right. I also really enjoyed that you are sharing and bringing light to this issue and examining the conflict with the material we have been learning in class.

My Question for you is: Do you think other conflicts exist between first nations and oil companies other than just a value conflict? Why/ why not

Great Post! I believe you have the right idea but may lack some important information. First Nations must be consulted about development that occurs on their land which is stated in the Canadian legislation referred to as the 'duty to consult'. The issue with the duty to consult is that it does not mean consent. Development on First Nations land is allowed to go ahead so long as they have discussed the possible repercussions with the First Nations. The duty to consult diminishes First Nations rights because they simply make negotiations. These negotiations allows the oil companies to develop on their land in exchange for some protection of the environment in certain areas of their reservation. Finally, I completely agree with you, the UNDRIP must be utilized for environmental protection on First Nations reservations. If the environmental damage from the construction of a pipeline was felt in the areas that use the oil the most I believe there would a stronger voice against the extraction of oil. The issue with pipeline construction is that the people who benefit do not reap the consequences.

Great Post! I believe you have the right idea but may lack some important information. First Nations must be consulted about development that occurs on their land which is stated in the Canadian legislation referred to as the 'duty to consult'. The issue with the duty to consult is that it does not mean consent. Development on First Nations land is allowed to go ahead so long as they have discussed the possible repercussions with the First Nations. The duty to consult diminishes First Nations rights because they simply make negotiations. These negotiations allows the oil companies to develop on their land in exchange for some protection of the environment in certain areas of their reservation. Finally, I completely agree with you, the UNDRIP must be utilized for environmental protection on First Nations reservations. If the environmental damage from the construction of a pipeline was felt in the areas that use the oil the most I believe there would a stronger voice against the extraction of oil. The issue with pipeline construction is that the people who benefit do not reap the consequences.

Great well written article, I am glad to see that first nation people in Canada are starting to gain the rights and freedoms that they deserve, although it is not quite where it should be. Before the current Liberal government decided to agree to the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), Aboriginals and their land were being exploited for the use of natural resource extraction. This exploitation seems to fit into the belief of how Prime minister Harper was known for embracing the staples trap that Canada has been famously known for. I am glad that the First Nations people will now have more of a say and opinion when it comes to construction on their land that could be damaging to their culture and environment. The rising popularity of the Alberta Tar Sands are a great example of Native people suffer from resource extraction and have their rightfully owned property polluted. If they can prove that the pipelines will break parts of the UNDRIP, it will be a monumental move for Canada and maintaining its pristine landscapes.

I completely agree with this blog, far too long have companies taken advantage of these native communities and exploited their land for the companies' own use. It has to be recognized that the land around these communities have much purpose before a mine, pit, or other industrial project occupies it. When consulting with the first nations, both sides should evenly weigh out what a mining project could bring to them, good or bad. Natives can benefit financially from these projects which can lead to a healthy growth of the community. Weighing out costs and benefits in this manner is much more professional than ignoring the rights of the First Nations. This will cause for more stable agreements and stronger relationships between industrial companies and natives.

I really agree with your arguments that you presented in your blog. I think it was a strong post and was a nice read. Aboriginal rights is a huge interest of mine. I think Canada which prides it self in upholding human rights worldwide and promoting democracy, needs to apply that domestically with in its practices with First Nations communities. The Justin Trudeau government seems to be making a lot of promises to uplift First Nations throughout Canada, which finally ACTUALLY recognizes how inadequately First Nations rights are upheld in Canada. Your blog proves it and brings up one of the sectors that I believe needs a reformation to adhere to sustainable and ethic resource management. I completely agree that aboriginal consultation should be given just as much weight as resource extraction companies when planning and make decisions. I do want Canada to be able to make a stand in the world's economy, but I don't want that stand to be made on the backs of others. I think the only way to improve your great blog, would be to draw upon opposing views of why resource management projects continue despite protests to really strengthen your arguments against.

Thank you for picking such a relevant and under-exposed issue, I think it is important that topics such as indigenous participation are brought to the forefront of as many discussions as possible. I also appreciate how your post clarified requirements and outlines within the UNDRIP because often, those documents can be hard to get through and although it was concise, you made your explanation very clear.

I have a question for you in regards to your mention of our new Prime Ministers. Many people viewed the former Prime minister’s relationship with the Aboriginal population of Canada as damaged and dismissive, due to the fact that he and his predecessors did not recognize treaties and initiatives such as the UNDRIP. Since being voted into office, Justin Trudeau has made it publicly known that repairing and renewing that relationship is imperative, however, approving the Northwest LNG Project British Columbia tells a very different story. Not only does it go against his initial commitments to environmental initiatives, but it also overrides the commitment he promised first nations representatives when asking them to speak out all to blatantly ignore them and construct one of largest GHG emission projects country wide.

I agree whole heartedly that aboriginal communities should be considered when it comes to pipeline projects, and in many other aspects, I'm just not sold on how we can hold our government and the oil industry to that type of promise, and where it is that they will find a middle ground? I find that beyond the cognitive and value conflict, there is so much interest conflict. Between the federal government and economic success, between the levels of government over the degradation of resources and economic productivity, and finally between the first nations and the govt+oil company. Each side is lobbying their case because they truly believe that this is a dangerous process or a process worth while, so if we go with your suggestion of - companies proving that their project will be environmentally safe and will not the damage the First Nations right to practice their culture – how do we decide whose case is more worth while? Both the EPA and First Nation Communities of the area have spoken out against the LNG Project in BC but still we are seeing this project pass evaluations steps by our current government.

So I pose the following questions: does signing onto initiatives such as the UNDRIP really alter the way in which parliament engages with first nation communities? Societally, is there a way to police your idea that First Nation communities’ values and inputs are prioritized similar to MNC'S and government experts? If the population voted in favor of Trudeau's initial policies and there truly has been a change in societal taste towards aboriginal relationships, how is it that we can repair this relationship and hold our gov't accountable?

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/politics/sunday-scrum-trudeau-s-pipeline-pol...

The battle between First Nations and the Canadian government is also seen in the United States. It is another chapter in the struggle that Native Americans have faced in the past few centuries. While these disputes are firstly about physical land that is being fought over, these disputes are about something more. The big picture of these disputes are the reparations for the mistreatment of natives over the years. It is a human rights struggle as much as it is a property one.

I'm glad this issue was brought up. The same issue is happening in North Dakota. They are trying to put a pipeline through Native land. The pipeline was originally supposed to go through a town but was vetoed because they feared it would pollute the water there. It now has the potential to pollute not only the Native's water but the entire Mississippi River, and they still intend to go through with it.

Thank you for bringing up this issue. As a student from the US, I cant say that this effects me all that much but I still am very interested in whats going on in the world. That being said, the US is now having a similar problem (similar to a certain extent that is). We have an oil company that wants to place a pipeline through indigenous people's sacred territory, but the oil company does not seem to care much at all. And its not just the indigenous people's territory they want to take either. I agree that its wrong, and I think that no matter where its happening or who its happening to (even if its far away from us) we should stand up to companies that will do things like this.

Your title is definitely the reason why I came to read your post. This is because we in the United States are also dealing with issues with the creation of a oil pipeline effecting a group of indigenous people in North Dakota. Well, that oil company really doesn't care what the indigenous say or think. It has been a highly populated and protested area, with celebrities even joining in on the protesting. In my opinion, it is wrong to go into the land of indigenous peoples and mess with it. We all need to stand up to these companies doing this.
Do you think that these instances can be resolved at all or are the companies invading the land of indigenous peoples just going to go ahead with their plans to build pipelines? My assumption is that the companies will continue with their plans, but you never know. I don't see why they can't find a different place to do it, honestly.