No Pipeline Expansion: Indigenous Sovereignty, Missing and Murdered Women, and Climate Emergency

Please send this letter to PM Justin Trudeau and the House of Commons Committees on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Environmental and Sustainable Development, and Justice and Human Rights, and Status of Women. The addresses are all listed below. Feel free to copy and paste the letter, whole or in part, and share with other. Resist!

Dear Trudeau Government,

I am writing to urge you to act in accordance with your claim to seek reconciliation with Indigenous nations as well as your declaration of a climate emergency. Your failure to do so could cost you this election and leave both Canada and the state of environmental emergency in far more risk. These two issues are not separate. Your recent approval of the pipeline expansion has direct implications for both environmental disaster as well as Canada’s genocide toward Indigenous women and girls. Both are critical for Indigenous sovereignty which you claim to respect.

In the CBC Analysis article, “What does it mean to call Canada’s treatment of Indigenous women a ‘genocide’?” Justin Trudeau is quoted as having acknowledged that there is systemic neglect of issues that has led to decades long astronomical rates long missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. He rightly agreed that this is genocide. The statement was an important act of truth telling. With claims that this government supports Truth and Reconciliations between Canada and Indigenous nations, we must begin with naming what is happening in order to take action for meaningful change.

Later the same month, the House of Commons declared a Climate emergency. Again, this is a critical acknowledgement that we are living on the brink of a “tipping point” where the eco systems that support civilization could be damaged beyond repair.  In both counts, the acknowledgement of genocide and environmental emergency must be followed by action or they risk becoming hollow acts of hypocracy.

These issues are not separate. Indigenous nations across the continent have taken a strong stand against pipleline expansion as part of cultural commitment to not destroying the waterways and eco systems upon which our lives depend. Pipeline expansions have also been demonstrated to put Indigenous women and girls at an increased risk.

In the May article from Indigenous Environmental Network, “Native Leaders Bring Attention to Impact of Fossil Fuel Industry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” journalists outline the connection between XL Pipeline and increased numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. They clearly state how rural underserved community experience an influx of settler male workers near reservations. The camps that house workers do not root them to larger community with a sense of responsibility and accountability. The  journalists describe the case in North Dakota where:

A surge in rates of violent crime and aggravated assault have correlated with the Bakken ‘oil boom’ and the subsequent arrival of thousands of new workers to the region. The state had at least 125 cases of missing Native women, though numbers are likely much higher because data is not officially collected.

A comparable in study from the “Lake Babine and Nak’azdli nations, in BC, Canada, found that such camps are associated with increased rates of sexual assault and violence against Indigenous women.” Knowing that Canada has been committing genocide against indigenous women and girls with claiming to promote reconciliation is a state of dissonance that must be corrected.

This pipeline expansion does not respect the lives of Indigenous women and girls that are put at additional risk by the encampments they bring to their communities. The expansion does not respect reconciliation as it encroaches on Indigenous land without the consent of the nationw whose land you are trespassing upon. Finally, it is not in keeping with your acknowledgement of a state of emergency. For life on earth to continue forward we much urgently develop sustainable practices. An expansion of the pipeline does the opposite. For the sake of all communities, we demand that you overturn the decision.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

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