London, November 30th, 2011
On the eve of the 17th UNFCCC, the world’s climate summit, the UK Tar Sands Network will serve papers to Shell UK executives on behalf of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN). ACFN plans to sue Shell for failure to meet contractual agreements made between Shell and the First Nations regarding existing tar sands projects within ACFN traditional territory and Canada’s pristine Athabasca, a UNESCO heritage site. Chief Allan Adam along with the entire council of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) will rally outside Shell Canada corporate headquarters in downtown Calgary later today and hold a press conference.
After years of agreements with Shell Oil, the Athabasca Chipewyan people have decided to risk everything by challenging Shell’s practices and filing suit. “We’re drawing the line, and taking a strong stand against Shell. ACFN wants no further developments until Shell is brought to justice and our broader concerns about the cumulative impacts in the region are addressed,” stated Chief Adam.
The agreements in question were meant to ensure Shell would provide a number of measures to lessen the impact of tar sands mines on ACFN. In addition to the lawsuit against Shell, ACFN also plans to oppose all future tar sands projects by Shell. “Tar sands have been widely recognized as the most destructive project on earth because of the serious impacts on treaty and aboriginal rights, ecological destruction and global green house gas emissions (GHG),” commented Suzanne Dhaliwal from the UK Tar Sands Network. “Shell is one of the largest players in the tar sands producing close to 20% of overall production and it needs to be held accountable for the mass destruction it is causing to communities and the environment.”
Shell Canada recently submitted proposals to expand its current tar sands operations which, if approved, would more then double their production. This would translate into further encroachment of open pit mines on ACFN traditional lands, and into the pristine wilderness of the Pierre River, a previously untouched area.
Chief Adam stated, “Shell has failed to meet past commitments and governments have done nothing to mitigate the issue. Current government monitoring is inadequate, and Shell cannot be trusted to monitor itself.” ACFN is rightfully concerned these projects will further impact the First Nation’s ability to exercise treaty rights in a meaningful way into the future. “We don’t want our community to become the next Niger Delta, where Shell’s unregulated actions have left communities devastated and resulted in the need for a 30-year clean-up estimated to cost $1 billion USD. The fate of our communities and our river is at stake and we are in the crosshairs of Shell’s plans to aggressively expand tar sands in our traditional territory. We ask the public to support ACFN’s efforts to stop Shell from permanently destroying our lands and community.”
An international coalition of Indigenous and environmental groups, including Keepers of the Athabasca, Greenpeace, Indigenous Environmental Network, Sierra Club Prairie, AWA, Pembina, Council of Canadians, International Indigenous Treaty Council, AFN Regional Office (NWT), Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Dene Nation, Platform, London Mining Network, UK Tar Sands Network and People & Planet endorsed today’s action echoing the call on Shell Oil Canada and Shell Oil International to halt any further tar sand extraction in the Athabasca region until proper environmental safeguards are put into place in accordance with the treaties between Canada and First Nations government.
***Photo Opportunity 11:00 am Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA***
Eriel Deranger (Canada) – 001 780-903-6598
Suzanne Dhaliwal (UK) – 07967758641
London, November 30th, 2011