Indigenous leaders from the U.S. and Canada gathered in Calgary on Wednesday to sign a declaration of opposition against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
The leaders say their coalition represents thousands of First Nations people in opposition to the TransCanada project and wanted to be in the company’s hometown to express their concern.
“We’ve been waiting for this — for a long time — for our nations to come together and it’s an honour to witness that,” said Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson from B.C.
The ceremony included leaders of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Canada, which includes Indigenous people in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as the Great Sioux Nation in the U.S.
Opposition to expansion of oilsands
The 16-page declaration highlights their treaty rights and their opposition to the proposed $8-billion pipeline, which would move Canadian crude south to Nebraska, where the pipeline would connect with an existing Keystone pipeline network that would take the oil to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.
The document also included opposition to the expansion of Alberta’s oilsands.
“We don’t oppose development and we don’t oppose other exploration opportunities for various tribes at their discretion,” said Piikani Nation Chief Stan Grier of the Blackfoot Confederacy.
“But rather what we are saying here, with this declaration… is there needs to free, prior and informed consent when it relates to Indian country.”
Casey Camp-Horine, who travelled from Oklahoma to take part in the ceremony at the Glenbow Musuem, is an elder and council woman with the Ponca Tribe.
“I’m amazed and thrilled that this day has come,” she said.
“It is our turn to use the voices that the colonizers understand to say our mother the earth has withstood all that she should ever withstand on our behalf.”
TransCanada, which has both a Native American Relations Policy and an Aboriginal Relations Policy, maintains…