Amid years of authorized efforts by Canada to pause litigation in opposition to its controversial Line 5 oil pipeline that runs for miles underneath Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac, a coalition of 51 tribal and First Nations has submitted a report back to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) detailing why Canada ought to be made to desert these efforts and hearken to enter from Indigenous communities affected by Line 5.
“In failing to correctly regulate Enbridge’s Line 5 operations, Canada violates its obligation to guard human rights,” the Tuesday letter reads. “Extra egregiously, Canada’s energetic interventions to guard Line 5, over our expressed opposition as affected Indigenous communities, and thru decision-making processes that exclude us, promote and allow threats to human rights.”
The report was submitted in relation to the fourth Common Periodic Evaluation (UPC) of Canada, which acts as a mechanism of the HRC to enhance human rights conditions in nations by listening to periodic scrutiny from different U.N. member states. The 2023 UPR session will happen in mid-November.
The Line 5 oil pipeline, owned and operated by Canadian firm Enbridge, runs 645 miles from the tip of Northwest Wisconsin, into Michigan’s Higher Peninsula, underneath the Straits of Mackinac and down by Michigan’s Decrease Peninsula earlier than exiting into Canada close to Detroit.
Indigenous communities, whose treaty lands and waters could be compromised within the case of a Line 5 spill within the Straits, have been publicly against Enbridge’s operations for a few years.
“Canada’s help for Line 5 is a part of its sample of favoring the fossil gasoline trade over Indigenous rights. We name on the Canadian Authorities to desert its present posture within the Line 5 litigation in U.S. courts, respect and defend the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and prioritize the pursuit of a sustainable future,” the report reads.
An Enbridge spokesperson didn’t instantly return a request for remark.
The submission was signed 10 of Michigan’s 12 federally acknowledged tribes: Bay Mills Indian Group, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians, Hannahville Indian Group, Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians of Michigan (Gun Lake Tribe), Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
All Indigenous communities in Michigan publicly oppose Line 5.
“The rights of Indigenous folks, of my folks, are rights that ought to be revered by all sovereigns each home and overseas,” mentioned Whitney Gravelle, president of the Bay Mills Indian Group. “Canada’s help of Line 5 is a catastrophe within the making for the complete Nice Lakes area as a result of an oil spill will poison our fish, hurt our sacred websites, contaminate our ingesting water — and finally destroy our Indigenous lifestyle
The letter was additionally submitted by the Unhealthy River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians and Crimson Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, each of that are rooted in northern Wisconsin; and the Anishinabek Nation, a First Nations group that represents 39 member First Nations in modern-day Ontario, Canada.
“The Straits of Mackinac are central to the Anishinaabe creation story, which makes this location sacred from each a cultural and historic perspective within the formation of the Anishinaabe folks,” mentioned Chairperson Austin Lowes of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
The Heart for Worldwide Environmental Regulation, EarthRights Worldwide, Environmental Defence Canada and the Georgetown College Regulation Heart Environmental Regulation and Justice Clinic moreover signed on to the letter.
“Canada can not depend on the Pipeline Treaty to flout these human rights obligations,” the letter reads, referring to a 1977 pipeline-related treaty between Canada and the US that Canadian officers say holds the facility to pause Michigan’s litigation in opposition to Enbridge.
Michigan Legal professional Normal Dana Nessel has been preventing in court docket to decommission Line 5 since 2019. In the course of the time during which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer additionally opened up a lawsuit in opposition to Enbridge, which she finally dropped after it was moved to federal court docket in opposition to her needs, the Canadian authorities submitted a flurry of letters to the federal choose asking that the Line 5 go well with be paused whereas treaty talks between the 2 nations proceed.
There have been no updates on the negotiations since they have been mentioned to have begun in mid-2021, and President Joe Biden has not taken a public stance on Line 5.
Within the Tuesday letter to the U.N. council, the Indigenous communities urge Canada to:
- Withdraw its invocation of the 1977 pipeline treaty and its positions in U.S. litigation opposing decommissioning Line 5.
- Make sure that affected Indigenous Nations are invited to take part in discussions concerning Line 5’s future, together with any negotiations underneath the Pipeline Treaty, as long as they proceed.
- Interpret all worldwide treaties, together with the Pipeline Treaty, persistently with Canada’s human rights obligations.
- Guarantee affected Indigenous Peoples’ FPIC (free, prior and knowledgeable
- consent) earlier than offering help for extractive sector tasks, and withdraw help from tasks that should not have affected Indigenous Peoples’ FPIC.
- Make sure that firms underneath Canadian jurisdiction don’t trigger or contribute to foreseeable threats to human rights.