Stephen Harper kicked off his eighth annual tour of so-called “Northern Canada” this past Sunday, August 18 to promote the extractive industry as a solution to “northern problems”. Harper arrived in the Yukon amidst a scandal over the use of temporary foreign workers to fill jobs in mining and tourism, this only weeks after 100 local miners lost their jobs.
To build support for the mining sector amongst Onkwehon:we, Harper announced on Monday, August 19 a $5.6 million grant that aims to train “aboriginals” from the Northwest Territories and
Kitikmoet region of Nunavut. Harper reported that the Yukon alone will require 1700 new mining workers by 2022. The Yukon grant announcement came one week after Harper promised nearly $6 million to the Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance to train Onkwehon:we for jobs in the region.
Amidst all the rhetoric of job creation, Harper couldn’t resist making some colonialist appeals in
his remarks, as he said “The North is Canada’s call to greatness. As Conservatives, we believe this with a passion. We always have. From Sir John A. Macdonald, who brought the North into Canada, to John Diefenbaker, the first prime minister to come north himself.” Lac Seul First Nation extends collaboration with Goldcorp as hundreds of millions extracted from landObishikokaang (Lac Seul First Nation) signed a new collaboration agreement with Goldcorp this past week, which reportedly includes new training, employment, contracting and investment opportunities. The Treaty #3 reserve consists of the three communities of Kejick Bay, Whitefish Bay and Frenchman’s Head located just northwest of Sioux Lookout.
The Red Lake gold mine is Goldcorp’s most lucrative. The company removed 507,000 ounces of gold from the Anishinaabe lands in 2012 alone – a quantity that would fetch over $720 million at
today’s gold rates. With 3500 band members, that extraction rate equals $206,000 of revenue for
Goldcorp for each band member.
The Vancouver-based gold company was ranked Canada’s 16th most profitable corporation in 2013, clearing $1.75 billion CAD in profits last year alone. With 18 mining operations in seven countries throughout ‘the Americas,’ the company boasts assets of more than $20 billion.
New tar sands project in northern Alberta would threaten few remaining bison
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) community was set to present on the potential impact of Vancouver-based Teck Resources’ proposed tar sands project for north of Fort McMurray before the Alberta Energy Regulator on Tuesday, August 20, 2013. The mine would produce 277,000 barrels of bitumen a day. In 2011, Alberta exported oil at a rate of 1.3 million barrels per day to the U.S, a rate that the Canadian and Albertan governments hope to double by 2021. As of January 2013, there were already 127 oil sands projects operating in Alberta.
The ACFN is arguing that Teck’s exploration would disrupt an area of land that is vital to the survival of the Ronald Lake bison – one of the only bison herds remaining that is disease-free and can be used as a food source. In a 2012 report Níh boghodi , the Athapaskan Chipewyan community put forward a report with proposals for the restoration of the caribou and bison populations.
Tahltan Nation blockades proposed open-pit mine in northwest B.C.
Approximately thirty members of the Tahltan nation began a blockade at the site of Fortune Minerals’ Arctos Anthracite Project in northern B.C after posting notice to the company of a 24-hour eviction notice in the night of Wednesday, August 14. The project would remove most of Mount Klappan and replace it with a 4,000 hectare open-pit mine, as well threatening to irreparably damage the sacred headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Spatsizi rivers and destroy traditional hunting grounds. The project would operate for 25 years, and consist of a new rail line to Prince Rupert to ship three millions tonnes of anthracite coal to Asia each year.
The blockade was organized by the Klabona Keepers, “people of the Stikine and Tahltan ancestry” who have been resisting since 2005 when they launched their first series of blockades against Fortune Minerals. They were also part of a movement to evict Royal Dutch Shell from in 2007. The Declaration of the Klabona Keepers on their website reads, “To those who come without respect, we must warn you: you will find us relentless and fierce in defending the Tl’abāne [Klappan] Sacred Headwaters. To those in our own nation who would sell out our interests for monetary gain; you must desist in these ways, and honour the ancient path. You cannot create the façade of traditional governance while you have secret meetings with those who propose to destroy us.”
The Tahltan Central Council did not take part in the action, but a June 2013 statement announced the Council’s opposition to B.C. Liberal government’s fast-tracking of the environmental review process. Council President Annita McPhee said in the June 2013 statement: “The Klappan is sacred to the
Tahltan people. Our people practice our hunting, fishing, and traditional cultural activities there. It’s why we’re fighting so hard to protect it.”
Thunderchild First Nation blockaders receive restraining order by Saskatoon Court for resisting detonations.
A Saskatoon Court issued a temporary restraining to the Thunderchild First Nation against protesters occupying a ceremonial site because they oppose seismic exploration in the area, which has already consisted of setting off 150 underground explosives as a method to determine if oil deposits are present.
The August 16 decision prohibits the blockaders from preventing Tonare Energy from detonating the remaining 27 dynamite charges.
The community is located 100 km north of Battleford, Saskatchewan. The matter returns to court next Friday
by Steve da Silva
ONKWEHÓN:WE / ORIGINAL PEOPLES – WEEK IN REVIEW (August 12-19, 2013)