Here is the intervention that was made at the United Nations by the
Athabasca Chipewyan and Mikisew Cree First Nations.
INTERVENTION TO THE SEVENTH SESSION ON THE UNITED NATIONS PERMANENT FORUM ON
Read at approximately 12:00 noon, Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Intervention on Agenda Item 5: Human rights: dialogue with the Special
Rapportuer on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of
indigenous peoples and other special rapporteurs.
Thank you Madame chair,
Madam Chair, I would like to bring international attention to the situation
of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca
Dene of northeastern Alberta, Canada.
The Mikisew and Athabasca Dene are signatory to Treaty #8 and live in what
has been characterized as the Canada's tar sands. These tar sands are an
industrial development that has been described as the largest industrial
project in the world or "the most destructive project on Earth."
The Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Dene who live directly in the path of twenty
oil companies are experiencing environmental justice issues of observed high
levels of leukemia, lymphomas, lupus and auto-immune disorders. In worse
cases they have observed very rare cancers. Cancers so rare that you would
find in only 1:100,000 and should not find in a community of 1,200 residents
which they share.
On a domestic level within Canada, the Mikisew Cree have requested a
moratorium on any new applications for tar sands development. A call for a
moratorium in February 2007 on any new approvals of tar sands expansion
applications in support of the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Dene has also been
adopted by resolution by the Alberta Chiefs' Summit comprising of all 43
Chiefs in the province. It has become increasingly apparent that the
government of Alberta and the federal government of Canada have no regard
for the indigenous rights of Fort Chipewyan! The Mikisew Cree and Athabasca
Dene seek support from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous
Issues for a call of a moratorium on any new approvals for tar sands
The Mikisew Cree and the Athabasca Dene have the most at stake with
continued approvals of tar sands projects It is because of this tar sands
development that Canada is not meeting its 'United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Changes' Kyoto Protocol commitments. Canada must
immediately meet its Kyoto Protocol commitments and halt all subsidies and
end all support of the tar sands.
We as a human race are in crisis, and the time to act is now! We no longer
can afford to "study" how we might adapt, or what sort of mitigation
measures "may" be implemented to address this crisis, we must act now, and
the fact is that the only real solution to address climate change is to
eliminate the world dependence on fossil fuels. Catastrophic climate change
will not abide unsustainable greed. There is an urgent need to implement a
just transition toward clean renewable energy and an energy efficient
economy, especially within our Indigenous territories.
Continued energy colonization within Indigenous homelands must cease now if
we are to survive as Indigenous Peoples, but more so as humanity. The
decisions that are made today by world leaders will effect the rights of the
unborn and this responsibility cannot be taken lightly.
These issues related to climate change and its link to the aggressive
expansion of fossil fuel development must have another level of review and
intervention that is beyond the national domestic level where our indigenous
rights are being trampled. These issues are human rights issues. Therefore
we make the following recommendation:
1) The Permanent Forum, through ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council]
call on the UN General Assembly to convene an emergency world session to
fully explore, with all branches of the UN, and relevant treaty bodies, in
particular UNCERD, the multiple impacts of climate change and its link to
fossil fuel development and the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, to
include the topics of, but not limited to social, economic, cultural,
environmental, health, food security, land and water rights, and treaty