On November 30, 2016, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation (COTTFN) will have its hearing with the Supreme Court of Canada. COTTFN’s case against Enbridge will challenge the approval by the National Energy Board to allow Enbridge Inc. to flow tar sands oil through its Line 9 pipeline, on the grounds that the Constitutional “duty to consult” was not followed. This pipeline runs between Sarnia and Montreal through over a dozen First Nations territories and numerous waterways that provide drinking water to millions of people in the most highly populated corridor in Canada. A victory by COTTFN will be a victory indigenous sovereignty and for all of us, and our support for COTTFN is essential.
Support has been asked for the COTTFN legal fund since over $400,000 is required. Please donate as follows:
• Send Bank Order: BMO Chippewas of the Thames Account: #2915 1998348 001
• Direct Money Transfer to: BMO Account 2915 1998348 001
• Mail Cheque or Money Order:
Chippewas of the Thames First Nation (marked “legal fund”),
320 Chippewa Road, Muncey, ON N0L 1Y0.
The following are excerpts from a presentation given by Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Councillor and Elder, Myeengun Henry, at a presentation in Toronto, with fellow panellist Crystal Sinclair, on October 12, 2016.
How did COTTFN become involved in fighting Line 9?
We first heard about Line 9 after it had been built in 1976, while we were still part of residential schools and not thinking about pipelines. So we had no knowledge or commitment then. Years passed and we were aware of the pipeline, but it was doing light crude oil, and was not high on our agenda. Then a few years ago we started looking at our environmental position and how to participate in reviews. Then the NEB called for intervenors in the Line 9 reversal and we found out about tar sands oil, that it was dangerous for our land and water and should be kept in the ground. We calculated how much wealth went through our territory since 1976. The municipalities (along Line 9) were collecting taxes from Enbridge, but we were not, so we lost billions of dollars and there was no Enbridge acknowledgement of this. So we took a rights-based approach. Our Elders talked about our responsibility for the land and water and this brought our community together, and all agreed to not allow tar sands oil through our territory. So we did a land use study and saw we could no longer pick our traditional medicines because of pollution to the Thames River. So we decided to intervene with the NEB process to stop Line 9, a pipeline like we saw in Marshall, Michigan (Kalamazoo) where the water is still unusable. In the meantime, COTTFN has divested from all oil. We want to build 300 solar panels and be a role model. This is a fight by a big corporation and the government supports it.
What does “consultation” mean to Enbridge?
We had discussions with Enbridge, who wanted to tell us how safe Line 9 would be. So Enbridge called neighbouring First Nations together and we asked, “where are the Enbridge leaders?” because all our First Nations leaders were there. Then we kicked out their technical people and asked for President Al Monaco. We were invited six times to Calgary. We explained the concept of the Two Row Wampum and gave them a wampum belt. In return, they gave me a ring, made from the metal used to build the Enbridge pipeline in Michigan. Enbridge never agreed to give us the dollars owed to us historically.
What comes next?
We need to educate the public especially face to face because we are getting no media coverage. November 30th is the hearing so it’s urgent and we need to get more people involved. We sent a delegation to Standing Rock, which is getting more attention. But because Line 9 already exists, it gets less attention.
Come to Ottawa on November 30, where our hearing will happen along with Clyde River’s.
Go to the web page chippewassolidarity.org.