Canadian government ignores call from Indigenous land defenders, presses Biden to support Keystone XL pipeline

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo by NBC News.

Update: On January 20, US President Joe Biden revoked the permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be speaking with President Biden on January 22. On this call we ask the Prime Minister to accept the KXL decision, uphold free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), and support Indigenous land defenders now asking for President Biden act on the Line 3 pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

On January 19, Indigenous Climate Action tweeted: “News came today that the incoming Biden administration is planning to cancel the #KeystoneXL tar sands pipeline on its first day in office. @JustinTrudeau it’s time for you and your government to take a similar step for Indigenous land rights and the fight for climate justice.”

And yet Bloomberg reports: “Canadian Energy Minister Seamus O’Regan said the federal government continues to support Keystone XL and will make the case for the project to the Biden administration.”

Reuters adds: “Trudeau’s government has previously urged the president-elect not to halt construction.” The CBC notes that Trudeau raised this issue in his first telephone conversation with the president-elect on November 9, 2020.

The day before the call, then-Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said protecting Keystone XL is a top priority for the Canadian government.

Canadian ambassador to the US, Kirsten Hillman, is also making the case for Biden to allow construction of the pipeline to continue.

Construction of Keystone XL in Canada was approved by the National Energy Board in March 2010. The pipeline route runs for 529 kilometres in Canada through Alberta (Treaty 6 territory) and Saskatchewan (Treaty 4) where it would cross the border at Montana, then proceed through South Dakota and Nebraska.

The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) has highlighted: “For over a decade, Indigenous nations and communities have continuously denied consent to the KXL pipeline from crossing their territories, citing environmental concerns, the desecration of sacred sites, treaty rights violations, and the risks of sexual violence connected with man camps.”

Faith Spotted Eagle, a Yankton Sioux Elder, has noted: “We are worried about man camps that are coming to our territory. We have seen our women suffer. One out of three women in our nation have been sexually assaulted by non-native people.”

Now the IEN along with numerous others have stated that an executive action the Biden Administration can take on Day One is: “Reject all federal permits for fossil fuel and other climate-damaging infrastructure, including, but not limited to, the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, Line 3, and Mountain Valley Pipelines.”

PBI-Canada calls on the Canadian government to listen to Indigenous land defenders, respect the right to free, prior and informed consent, and further recognize the human rights catastrophe of climate change that KXL would hasten.

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