Canada First Nations versus TAR SANDS industry              human rights & treaty rights                  
 My TAR SANDS home-page HERE
The Alberta tar sands industry severely impacts on Canada's indigenous 'First Nations' in many ways, and violates both their treaty rights and basic human rights. The proposed 3 times expansion of production - with Shell's new projects being examples, will increase these impacts. In response the First Nations are trying to get court hearings to defend their treaty rights against the tar sands industry and the Alberta and Canada Conservative governments (who are very pro extractive industries), but are continually rebuffed before they can get the proper hearings they should by rights get.

Also the First Nations in British Columbia are fighting against the proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline and associated tanker route from Alberta Eastwards to the Pacific Ocean (for the China market). The pipeline route transgresses their land and rivers (and would inevitably leak and pollute these), and the tanker route threatens pollution of important marine resources.

North America's First nations are also campaigning and rallying under the recent Idle No More banner (hashtag: #idlenomore).

The UK Tar Sands Network posts updates on these battles - and their useful 'Tar Sands and Indigenous Rights' briefing pdf can be downloaded from   Also read their 'Get the (S)Hell out of the Tar Sands'

The web-page here collates links to some relevant articles. Others are distributed over the news-blog on my tar sands home-page &/or on my tar sands links page.

But first a paragraph of background info:
This green section is copied from my Tar Sands home page:
The most important impacts of the Tar Sands oil industry come under 3 main headings: 1. Ecocide (a crime under proposed international law): due to the extensive loss and damage to habitat, wildlife and environment, including extensive pollution; 2. Huge carbon footprint, from both high emissions and loss of carbon sinks; 3. Re social justice: the flouting of legal treaty rights of the indigenous peoples, also of their basic human rights for freedom from ill-health and death from industrial causes (e.g. pollution-induced cancers).
Of course: impacts under heading 1. strongly impact on 3.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation, privides an excellent 22april15 update here from her first hand experience:
'Awaiting justice Indigenous resistance in the tar sands of Canada'  in openDemocracy.

Jennifer Huseman (working with e.g. Damien Short) has researched in depth especially on impact 3 and has written several papers on this big topic, e.g.:
‘A slow industrial genocide’  tar sands and the indigenous peoples of northern Alberta   Jennifer Huseman & Damien Short - The International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 16, No. 1, January 2012, 216–237 - here uploaded to
Extreme Energy as Genocidal Method  Tar Sands and the Indigenous Peoples of Northern Alberta   Jennifer Huseman & Damien Short - Extreme Energy Initiative research paper - here uploaded to
Throwing petrol on a fire  the human and environmental cost of tar sands production   Jennifer Huseman & Damien Short 2011 CAB Commonwealth Advisory Bureau - here uploaded to

NB: see EEI - Extreme Energy Initiative   'A unique academic forum that concentrates specifically on the effects of unconventional fossil fuel extraction on society and the environment' Website: - Includes tar sands and fracking etc. London-based. - Extreme Energy Initiative of Human Rights Consortium (linked to University of London). Dr. Damien Short is the Director of the Human Rights Consortium and Senior Lecturer in Human Rights at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies - and his work e.g. with Jennifer Huseman includes Alberta tar sands. E.g.:
Paper by Jennifer Huseman and Damien Short: 'Extreme Energy As Genocidal Method: Tar Sands and the Indigenous Peoples of Northern Alberta' -  Extreme Energy Initiative

Also we are lucky to have here in North-West England a research student at Lancaster University Law School - John Pearson - who is writing a PhD thesis on human Rights law of the indigenous peoples affected by the tar sandsindustry in Alberta, Canada.  I look forward to reading his work when it becomes available and will link to it here.

Please sign this Government e-petition '
Britain to be complicit no more with tar sands': - created by Steve Rushton
Article by Steve Rushton associated with this petition: feb2013

Article refs with links:                     Jump to
More recent news

International Journal of Human Rights Special Issue  Corporate Power & Human Rights   School of Advanced Study, University of London

Extreme Energy As Genocidal Method  Tar Sands and the Indigenous Peoples of Northern Alberta   Extreme Energy Initiative 5mar13

No Tar Sands   UK Tar Sands Network    Get the (S)Hell out of the Tar Sands

(2) HumanRightsUniLondon (HRC_News) on Twitter


Chiefs Declare Keystone XL Consultation Meeting Invalid, Walk Out on State Department Officials - 17may13

c.1may13 Good news: (see UKTSN tweet today)

** Indigenous rights are the best defence against Canada's resource rush - First Nations people – and the decision of Canadians to stand alongside them – will determine the fate of the planet   Martin Lukacs 26apr13

[25-Mar-13] Council of Canadians and CEP join Nishiyuu walkers in solidarity today, Budget attempts to extinguish Aboriginal land and title to ease oil expansion  " ... the recent federal budget contains continued efforts to extinguish Aboriginal land and title, which is among the key issues that sparked Idle No More and the Journey of Nishiyuu in the first place. Because it is protected under Section 35 of the Constitution, Aboriginal land & title is a key obstacle to oil, gas and mining companies keen on relentless expansion at the expense of Indigenous peoples, workers rights, and the environment."

'Heavy is the Head That Wears the Crown: Tar Sands Expansion May Violate Crown's Legal Obligation to First Nations' Carol Linnitt, 11sep12 in DeSmogBlog via T by PlatformLondon RT John Pearson
ACFN 'Today the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) will argue in the Alberta Court of Appeal that Shell Canada’s proposed Jackpine Mine expansion is in violation of their Constitutional rights and represents a failure on behalf of the federal government to uphold their legal duty to consult (DTC).'

'Throwing petrol on a fire: the human and environmental cost of tar sands production' by Jennifer Huseman and Damien Short - Nov2011 - for CAB Commonwealth Advisory Bureau - Institute of Commonwealth Studies
"In this opinion piece, independent researcher Jennifer Huseman and Senior Lecturer in Human Rights in the Institute
of Commonwealth Studies, Dr Damien Short, examine Canada’s tar sands oil industry and its effect on indigenous
communities. They describe how the industry ‘externalities’ of environmental degradation and pollution are seriously
affecting the health of indigenous communities and threatening their physical and cultural survival. Furthermore..."

'The Beaver Lake Cree Nation's legal challenges' - pdf by Co-op - under heading "Stop toxic fuels expansion now"
"... the ancestors of the Beaver Lake Cree signed Treaty 6 with representatives of the Queen in 1876"

'Alberta Tar Sands Illegal under Treaty 8, First Nations Charge' by Kristin Moe — YES! Magazine 17oct12
"In 1899, First Nations in northern Alberta signed a treaty with Queen Victoria that enshrined their right to practice traditional lifeways. Today, it’s the basis for a legal challenge to Shell Oil’s mining of tar sands." Shows map of ?1900.

David Suzuki: ‘Does Nature Belong in Canada's Charter?’ 16jan13 D.S. writes:“Getting the right to a healthy environment enshrined in Canada's Constitution won't be easy. We're headed in the opposite direction, with environmental protections and laws being rolled back or gutted, mostly in the name of keeping us tied to a resource-extraction economy [such as tar sands]. And despite our country's abundant water, many people, especially in First Nations communities, don't have access to clean drinking water.” []= my addition - taking from text elsewhere in the article.

Indigenous chief  Canada trying to muscle EU on tar sands 18mar13  EurActiv  - Bill Erasmus is regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations and the national chief of the Dene, a Canadian indigenous group. He spoke by phone from Germany to EurActiv’s Marc Hall. This interview was edited into a shorter form.

But you as indigenous peoples have rights over that land…

The other point is that as indigenous peoples we are nations, in a country called Canada, and we have agreements with the Crown, with the British crown. I have a copy, for example, of treaty number 11 which happened in June of 1921 and this treaty is between our people, the Dene, and King George V. The agreement that we have with the Crown supersedes the authority that the federal government in Canada has or the provincial government. And we took these treaties to court.

The other treaty that we’re a part of, which is right where the tar sands are, is treaty number eight. We proved in court that these are peace and friendship instruments. They are international instruments. They perpetuate the right that we’ve always had. In other words, as people that were never conquered or never defeated in war, the resource belongs to us. So the oil actually belongs to our people.

I live approximately 800-900 miles north of where it’s extracted and so we’re downstream. I’m a member of the Yellow Knife Dene, which is the tribe that I’m a part of, but the toxins and the destruction that I talked about occur all the way down the Mackenzie valley and into the Beaufort Sea and then going into the circumpolar world. So this is a global issue, that global waters are being polluted. So this is an international issue that Canada needs to address. So we bring this to the world.


Nick Clegg: 'Human rights: we won't be silent - Britain must not step back from its historical commitment to human rights for the sake of commercial expediency'  Nick Clegg   Comment is free   The Guardian 15apr13
"Today the Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes its 2012 Human Rights and Democracy report. It is the yearly indicator of the UK's commitment to raising human rights standards and stamping out abuses wherever they occur – from Syria to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia to the DRC."     - But will Clegg be silent for commercial expediency over plight of Canada First nations re Tar Sands industry?

Justin Trudeau wins Leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada - he's apparently against the Northern Gateway pipeline but for the CNOOC deal (which seems somewhat contradictory to me). In his acceptance speech he referred to the long walk showing that First Nations will be 'Idle No More':
VIDEO  Justin Trudeau’s acceptance speech -  Justin Trudeau "Watch Justin’s speech at the  2013 LPC Leadership Announcement in Ottawa on April 14 2013."
11:25 "We've met aboriginal leaders from all across the country, from Kamloops to Whapmagoostui, with the courage to walk 16 hundred kilometres through the teeth of a Canadian winter to make the point that they will be 'Idle No more'."  [Whapmagoostui in Northern Quebec is location where The Journey from #Nishiyuu started]
"A handful of politicians were in attendance to greet the group, including Green Party leader Elizabeth May and NDP leader Tom Mulcair. Charlie Angus, the NDP MPwhose blog about the deplorable conditions in the Cree community of Attawapiskatwent viral, was also in attendance."
Nishiyuu  A movement of Cree youth who voted with their feet - The Globe and Mail - 25mar13
[25-Mar-13] Council of Canadians and CEP join Nishiyuu walkers in solidarity today 25mar13
'The Journey of Nishiyuu'
'Supreme Court of Canada denies Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Appeal on Jackpine Mine Expansion'  - 11apr13

Complicit No More in Tar Sands Steve Rushton feb13

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More recent news

Highlighting human and environmental cost of Canada's energy policy with Healing Walk through oil sands   The Vancouver Observer 6jul13
Canada's tar sands project becomes focus of 'healing walk' by activists   Environment 1jul13

** Deadly Quebec Oil Train Disaster and Athabasca River Spill On Same Day as Tar Sands Healing Walk   DeSmogBlog 6jul13

Happy Canada Day  Learning about Treaties in tar sands territory   The Vancouver Observer  1jul13 Emma Pullman

Lubicon Lake Nation Files Aggressive 700 Million Dollar Lawsuit Against Canada 10jun13 via Gwen Harrison RT

Athabasca Chipewyan spokeswoman [Eriel Deranger] calls tar sands expansion policies  cultural genocide    The Vancouver Observer 7jun13

*** Indigenous communities put the heat on Shell!   
No Tar Sands   UK Tar Sands Network 22may13 Shell AGM

*** The Beaver Lake Cree Judgment  The Most Important Tar Sands Case You’ve Never Heard Of   DeSmog Canada 24may13