We express our solidarity with the injunction motion launched by the Aroland and Ginoogaming First Nations against pipeline “integrity digs” in Treaty 9 territory in northwest Ontario. This precedent-setting motion against TransCanada Pipelines, Canada and the National Energy Board (NEB) aims to put an end to the continued infringement of aboriginal and treaty rights experienced for over fifty years, a goal we whole-heartedly support.
The physical work that these First Nations are seeking to stop – at least until the duty to consult and accommodate their constitutionally-protected rights is met – is called “integrity digs.” TransCanada intends to bring in heavy equipment and dig up a lot of land and expose the buried pipeline in a 30 km stretch that runs through their traditional territories. This is the same pipeline that TransCanada, through its affiliate Energy East, is applying to convert from natural gas, to carry dilbit (crude oil) from the Alberta oil sands.
All First Nations with Treaty Rights along the Energy East pipeline route are affected by this case. All Indigenous communities in Canada will be affected by the outcome of this case.
TransCanada is trying to push ahead with this intrusive work before the duty to consult and accommodate is met. The integrity digs work will likely cause impacts on aboriginal and Treaty 9 rights to harvest and to protect burial grounds and other cultural heritage sites and values. They will cause impacts to the First Nations’ culture, sacred relationship to the land that is at the core of their identity as indigenous communities, and on their ability to continue to survive with the land.
Canadian law should require the First Nations’ consent before such activity can proceed, in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The injunction hearing is slated to be heard on January 25 at the Ontario Superior Court, in Toronto. Please consider attending the injunction hearing to show support for the case and share this information widely.