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Journalist Jenny Uechi and First Nations Activist Amanda Lickers discuss the May 10 day of action

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ANTON WORONCZUK, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore. And joining us now for another edition of our Canada panel are our two guests.

Jenny Uechi is the managing editor and senior reporter of The Vancouver Observer.

And also with us is Amanda Lickers, who belongs to the Turtle Clan of the Onondawaga Haudenosaunee. She is a curator for the reclaimed Turtle Island and focuses on resistance to pipelines, tar sands, and fracking in her territories.

Thank you both for joining us.



WORONCZUK: So, earlier this week the White House released the national climate assessment, and it deals with how climate change is currently affecting the United States. And, Jenny, I’m wondering if there have been any interesting responses by Canadian politicians to this report, considering how close Canada is to the United States.

UECHI: The response hasn’t been as large as one would expect. You can, though, say that there is a big protest happening tomorrow with regard to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, which is also connected to the climate change. And there will be, actually, a lot of local public officials there speaking out, not only about the pipeline, but also about its impact on climate change.

WORONCZUK: And, Amanda, are you getting the same sense, the same silence of politicians in Canada on this issue?

LICKERS: Yeah, absolutely. I think the interest is to not scare away investors from the tar sands, because if the United States takes a stance that puts financial risk around the tar sands as a resource-extractive industry, then that’s not something that’s in the Canadian national interest. And so, as a result, it’s not a shock to me that there isn’t a lot of buzz being created around this in the Canadian mainstream media.

But I think that these types of messages are really important in the context of Indian country and in the context of those of us who are actually working towards trying to shut down these industries that are polluting our environments, polluting our people, polluting our communities, and also have these catastrophic global impacts.

WORONCZUK: And, Jenny, let’s talk about a story that was reported in the Vancouver Observer this week regarding a legal case brought against Canada’s National Energy Board. Can you talk about that? I think it involves Kinder Morgan, the pipeline expansion.

UECHI: Yes. So the /ətsɔːjoʊtuθ/ Nation, which is a nation of the Burrard Inlet land, has filed a lawsuit, a legal challenge against the National Energy Board, the NEB, for the hearings over the Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion, which it has said does not adequately consult, it does not adequately consult the public or the First Nations. A lot of the process has changed, in terms of the hearings, since the hearings that involve the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. I think that the NEB is starting to see a lot of pushback with regard to those.

WORONCZUK: And, Amanda, what kind of issues have First Nations communities typically had with the NEB?

LICKERS: Well, I mean, first of all, there is no complication in the context of colonial occupation. And so one of the major issues is that the National Energy Board isn’t capable of doing third-party consultation, which is actually outlined in the Canadian Constitution as part of the due process in order to move forward on projects that impact indigenous territories or, like, what are designated indigenous territories, such as Crown land or a reservation system.

Another part of the piece is that despite the fact that band councils participate, which are–band councils are created by the Indian Act, and they’re actually a neocolonial form of government. And some of us nations still have our traditional governance systems, which have never been consulted and never been contacted by either the National Energy Board or any corporation or the Canadian government.

But even though that band councils are participating in this process and saying, we haven’t been consulted on our own terms, that corporations such as Enbridge are saying, oh, we made a few phone calls, that equals consultation, and that the NEB is hearing this unanimous no, this unanimous and echoed no, we do not want this project, we have not been consulted, they still move forward. And I think it’s in the Canadian interest. You know?

And so it really goes back that issue of there is no consultation under colonial occupation. And we understand that resource extraction is part of the settler colonial project. It doesn’t really matter who the stakeholders are. What really matters is the bottom line.

WORONCZUK: And so let’s also talk about the day of action that’s due to take place tomorrow on May 10. It’s called the Defend Our Climate, Defend Our Communities. Jenny, what are we expecting to see in British Columbia?

UECHI: In British Columbia, we’re hearing that it could be the largest rally, the largest anti-pipeline rally yet in B.C. And a lot of people who are on the West Coast here remember that in November last year, there was a massive rally against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, in which thousands of people showed up–despite the cold weather, too–to show a clear message to the federal government that the people of B.C. broadly don’t want this project.

So tomorrow we’re expecting to see–well, I think that there will be a lot of public officials there. There’s going to be a number of speakers from different First Nations in the area who are going to be expressing opposition. And I think that the timing is crucial, because in the next couple of weeks the federal government is expected to announce its final decision, which a lot of people suspect will be yes. And when they do so, it will have seen an incredible, I think, groundswell of opposition coming from B.C., saying that in fact there is no social license for the project.

WORONCZUK: And, Amanda, are we expecting to see any actions planned by First Nations communities as well?

LICKERS: There will be some actions planned by First Nations communities. But I just want to highlight that this day of action was actually called majority by NGOs, big greens, and not-for-profits, and that I don’t think that they actually did a very good job of reaching the grassroots.

So I think it’s really important to understand that the people who are fenceline and frontline are the people who should be most empowered to carry actions forward. And often when we called days of action like this, like in solidarity with Elsie /bʊktʊk/, in the /ˈmɪgmə/ [Mi’kmaq (?)] Nation, when they’re fighting fracking, or with the Unist’ot’en Camp, who are occupying their traditional territories, reclaiming their traditional territories, and stopping pipelines, it comes from the ground up. And we see more effective direct actions that actually causes financial damage, which is one of our most important tools.

But in terms of First Nations actions that are going to be happening tomorrow, I think one of the most important pieces is actually in the so-called Chemical Valley, which is near Sarnia, Ontario. And the reservation community known as /ɔːmjənɔŋ/, which is an Anishinaabe community. They’re hosting a “Toxic Tour” of the Chemical Valley, which is 62 petrochemical refineries in a 20 mile radius. And this is where also Line 9 comes above ground, which is a tar sands pipeline. And so they’re going to be talking about a lot of the really key issues of what it means to be fence-line. They’re going to be talking about environmental justice, environmental racism, and the impact of resource extraction on human health and human bodies.

WORONCZUK: Okay. Jenny Uechi, managing editor of The Vancouver Observer, thank you so much for joining us.

UECHI: Thank you very much, Anton.

WORONCZUK: And Amanda Lickers, curator of Reclaim Turtle Island, thank you for joining us.

LICKERS: /ˈnjagoa/. Thank you very much.

WORONCZUK: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Amanda Lickers belongs to the Turtle Clan of the Onondowa'ga Haudenosaunee, and is a curator at Reclaim Turtle Island (@defendourlands). She spends her time fanning the flames of the Indigenous insurrection, supporting grassroots land defense and sovereignty struggles. Currently based in Tiotiah:ke ("Montreal"), occupied Kanien'keha:ka ("Mohawk") territory, she organizes against land exploitation projects that threaten the health of her territories, like Line 9 and Energy East. Amanda recently released her first short film, co-produced with titled Kahsatstenhsera, on Indigenous resistance to tar sands pipelines in NE Turtle Island. #stopthebeast