First Nation "Days of action" campaign begins

by September 29, 2008
 

Centered on ushering in "a new era of first nations relations with the Crown," the "days of action" campaign is now officially underway.

On Sunday, "protesters representing Treaty 4 First Nations brought traffic on Highway 1 east of Regina to a crawl and barricaded the road leading into a pipeline construction compound," reports the Saskatchewan News Network. Lasting for about half an hour, the protesters moved and set up a camp at the intersection leading into the Waschuk Pipeline site, just west of White City.

"We're going to be 24/7 occupation here and we will remain as such until we believe we have some commitments," stated Treaty 4 spokesperson Edmund Bellegarde. "We will take as long as is necessary to get the proper parties to the table, being the federal and provincial governments and the industry players."

"We're hoping to keep the lines of communication open with all of the government agencies and law enforcement officials. We want to make sure that we're peaceful, peaceful in our actions and our activities, and we want to insure that that is kept throughout the whole process here," Bellegarde continued.

Following Sunday's action, there was another demonstration today, about 100 km east of Saskatoon. Led by Red Pheasant First Nation Chief Sheldon Wuttunee, roughly 60 Indigenous people marched through Kerrobert to protest the ongoing construction of the 1,590-kilometre oil pipeline known as "the Alberta Clipper." Construction is currently taking place near Red Pheasant reserve on Treaty 6 territory.

"We want to put out a message that we've had enough, that we're going to stand together as Indian people to make sure we get our fair share of the resources that come from our traditional lands," said Wuttunee, who led the group through Kerrobert to the headquarters Enbridge Inc., the company behind "the clipper."

Following the march, "Wuttunee and several of his band members, along with supporters from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) and First Nation bands in Manitoba, Alberta and B.C. as well as across Saskatchewan, [set up a second camp -- this one] adjacent to the pipeline path just south of Luseland," reports the Star Phoenix. "Four teepees have been erected, including one directly on top of the pipeline path."

The days to come

The campaign has so far taken shape in Saskatchewan, but in the days and weeks to come, we will likely see more protests and roadblocks -- across Canada.

Afterall, this is bigger than a pipeline project, or a few "bad apples" that couldn't care less, as Bellegarde further pointed out on Sunday. "It's [also about] the government's honour and duty through the Supreme Court of Canada rulings in the last two decades. The issue is duty to consult and we feel that we haven't had the proper consultation in a meaningful way as the courts say is the law in this country." [It's also about the need for first nations consent, an issue the courts and the governments and the companies are afraid to touch.]

"We're not anti-development. We understand that there are issues and sometimes this is the type of action that it takes to bring the attention and bring the governments to the table and if it means that some of the work is interrupted in the short term, we feel it's necessary for the long-term issues to be addressed."

"We feel as treaty people that our ties to the land, our treaties, all of the projects, all of the exploration, all of the activities that are going on in our treaty territories and our traditional lands, we are being left by the wayside."

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