First Nations Gain Powerful New Allies in Fight Against Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and Tankers

YDA Nation Logos Solidarity Accord aligns First Nations with supporters from across Canadian society ahead of a Joint Review Panel decision on the project. 

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, COAST SALISH TERRITORY – (December 5, 2013) – The Yinka Dene Alliance (YDA) has welcomed a new signatory to the Save the Fraser Declaration and has also launched a new Solidarity Accord, backed by some of Canada and BC’s most powerful unions, as well as a host of local leaders from tourism businesses, municipal government, health and conservation organizations.

The Save the Fraser Declaration is an indigenous law banning tar sands pipelines and tankers from crossing BC, signed by representatives of over 130 First Nations.

Chief Archie Patrick of the Stellat’en First Nation signed the declaration, just moments before the launch of the new Solidarity Accord by Unifor, the BC Teachers’ Federation, the BC Wilderness Tourism Association, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the David Suzuki Foundation among others.

The Stellat’en First Nation is one of many First Nations along the proposed pipeline route that Enbridge has been trying to woo for years.

“First Nations opposition to Enbridge’s project just keeps growing,” said Chief Martin Louie of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation. “Never before have we been joined by such a vast range of supporters from across Canadian society. This gives the alliance greater strength for the fight ahead and shows the magnitude and power of public opposition to this pipeline that is proposed to cross over our territories.”

Through the Solidarity Accord, non-First Nations organizations and individuals pledge to stand with First Nations in upholding the Save the Fraser Declaration and stopping the Enbridge project, with a new website launching at www.holdthewall.ca.

“The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project is simply too risky a proposal for our industry to support,” said Jim DeHart, President of the BC Wilderness Tourism Association. “An oil spill would affect the major rivers or coastline of BC and threaten the entire provincial tourism industry. That’s why we’re signing this accord today.”

“Unifor is proud to stand in solidarity with First Nations as they resist the Enbridge Northern Gateway project,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Area Director for BC. “It’s time for a new vision for Canada’s energy industry –one that addresses the reality of aboriginal title and rights, respects our social and environmental commitments, and generates lasting wealth for all who live here.”

The Save the Fraser Solidarity Accord may be found online at: http://savethefraser.ca/SolidarityAccord-nov2013.pdf

Contact Information:

Chief Martin Louie Nadleh Whut'en First Nation 250-570-7759

Geraldine Thomas Flurer Coordinator Yinka Dene Alliance 250-570-1482

Olympic Medal Designer Creates Necklace to Champion Equality For Women’s Soccer in Canada

Corrine-Hunt-wwwcm-pendantFans and supporters of women’s soccer in Canada will soon have an opportunity to show their support for the “beautiful game” and equality in Canadian soccer, by wearing a new necklace created by Olympic Medal designer, Corrine Hunt, and jeweler, Sandra Bars. The necklace was created as a fundraiser for Why the Women’s World Cup Matters (WWWCM), a non-profit organization dedicated to creating positive changes for girls and women on and off the field using the Women’s World Cup as a catalyst.

“I support this campaign because soccer is good for everybody and equality and soccer is even better,” said Hunt.

Titled, Kiwkw, the silver necklace features an eagle and an equal sign on one side, and a World Cup soccer ball on the other. “All is fair in the air” is the artist’s motto for the piece. There will also be a limited edition in gold.

Necklaces are available for purchase online: wwcmatters.com

Proceeds from the necklace will help support initiatives including a First Nations Girls Soccer program, a World Cup Leadership program in schools, and a documentary exploring the role of soccer in changing the lives of women from all walks of life, around the world.

“It’s an honour to have an artist like Corrine Hunt create such a powerful symbol for our social equity campaign,” said former hall of fame national soccer team member, Carrie Serwetnyk, founder of Why the Women’s World Cup Matters. “Both Corinne and Sandra have loved playing soccer and they worked together to create this exquisite necklace to encourage empowerment for girls and women in our country and beyond.”

The necklace will be formally unveiled as part of a post-Canada/Mexico game party fundraiser featuring speakers including Former BC Sports Minister Olga Illich, First Nations leader Carla George, and Vancouver City Councillor Adriane Carr. Vancouver Whitecaps official national anthem singer Marie Hui will headline the music with her band Groove n’ Tonic.

Tickets to the event, which includes food, bands, silent auction, raffles and prizes, are available at http://www.wwcmatters.com

Event Details:

Post-Canada/Mexico Game Party Fundraiser Hosted by Why the Women’s World Cup Matters Sunday, November 24 @ 3pm Shark Club, 180 Georgia Street (Cambie)

Contact Information:

Carrie Serwetnyk Founder, Why the Women’s World Cup Matters carrie@wwcmatters.com 604-551-7006 wwcmatters.com

Coastal First Nations honoured as winners in the 3rd Annual 2013 PR World Awards for oil spill awareness campaign

praward VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (November 6, 2013)The Coastal First Nations have earned a prestigious PR World Award for Cause-Related Campaign of the Year, for their oil spill awareness television ad campaign, The Sound of Silence, produced with Andrew Frank Communications. The campaign is a reminder to British Columbians of the threats oil tankers pose to BC’s coastal waters, wildlife and communities.

Described by the Globe and Mail as a "crafty public relations move," and a "victory" in the public relations war against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, the ad features the music of Paul Simon, and has been featured on CBC’s The National, Global TV, CTV, CityTV, Vancouver Sun, The Province, Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen, Edmonton Journal, Metro, 24 Hours, News 1130, CKNW and many other media outlets.

The coveted annual PR World Awards program encompasses the world’s best in public relations and marketing campaigns, from every major industry in the world. More than 50 judges from a broad spectrum of industry voices from around the world participated, and their average scores determined the 2013 PR World Awards winners.

About the PR World Awards                               

The PR World Awards are an annual industry and peer recognition program honouring the best of PR and corporate communications in every major industry from large to small and new start-ups in North America, Europe, Middle-East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin-America. The annual 2013 PR World Awards are part of the Silicon Valley United States worldwide recognition programs. The SUVS Awards consist of nine world award programs in which companies can participate every year, each held at a different date and location. Learn more about the PR World Awards.

Media Advisory - First Nations To Discuss Enbridge Pipeline Grievances With UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya

25-08-2011anaya Yinka Dene Alliance (YDA) will host a media briefing in downtown Vancouver, immediately following their meeting with UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - October 9, 2013) - Attention News Editors: Media are invited to a short briefing and Q&A session with Chief Fred Sam of Nak’azdli First Nation and Geraldine Thomas-Flurer, Yinka Dene Alliance Coordinator, immediately following their Thursday morning meeting with UN Special Rapporteur, James Anaya.

The purpose of the briefing is to give a run-down of discussions with Mr. Anaya, and to discuss next steps for the Yinka Dene Alliance for enforcing their own laws if BC and Canada continue to fail to do the right thing on Northern Gateway.

Who: Chief Fred Sam, Nak’azdli First Nation (a member nation of the YDA) Geraldine Thomas-Flurer, Yinka Dene Alliance Coordinator Jessica Clogg and Gavin Smith, West Coast Environmental Law

When: Thursday, October 10, 2013 from 12:15 – 12:45pm (sandwiches and coffee provided)

Where: Multipurpose Room #1, Creekside Community Centre, 1 Athletes Way, Vancouver

Contact Information:

Geraldine Thomas-Flurer Yinka Dene Alliance Coordinator 250-570-1482

First Nations “Go Undercover” To Ask World’s Largest Oil Tanker Companies Who’s Responsible for Spill Clean-Up Costs in Canada

Opinion from Canada’s top maritime lawyer and oil pollution liability expert contradicts Harper government’s claim that taxpayers would not be “on the hook.” VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – The President of the Canadian Maritime Law Association, John O’Connor, says the Canadian government would be responsible for any cleanup costs that exceed $1.4 billion in the event of a “huge” oil spill, directly contradicting claims by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver that any cleanup bill would be the responsibility of vessel operators and not Canadian taxpayers.

The opinion from O’Connor, which was sent to one of the world’s largest oil tanker companies, was obtained by the Coastal First Nations through an undercover investigation into oil tanker ownership, liability and insurance practices, and has been made into a new television ad, released on the same day Minister Oliver is in BC to meet with First Nations leaders.

“The federal government is lying to Canadians when it says taxpayers will not be responsible for oil spill cleanup costs,” says Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations. “As it turns out, the oil tanker companies and Canada’s top maritime lawyer and oil pollution liability expert, know this claim is false.”

The Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon incidents have cost as much as $7 billion and $40 billion respectively, and Simon Fraser University Professor, Dr. Thomas Gunton, has estimated an Exxon-size spill in BC could cost as much as $22.7 billion.

Posing as a pipeline research company, the Coastal First Nations approached six of the world’s top Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) oil tanker companies with questions about insurance and liability. VLCC’s are the type of oil tankers the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline would bring into BC’s coastal waters.

Through a series of emails and phone calls, the group discovered the following:

1)   Many public and privately owned VLCC tanker companies are unaware of plans to export diluted bitumen to Canada’s west coast, raising questions as to whether Enbridge has been in conversation with the operators of VLCC’s to determine operational information for marine navigation plans.

2)   Several tanker companies asked for material and safety data sheets for diluted oil sands bitumen, suggesting they were unfamiliar with the product and its handling and transportation requirements.

3)   Each oil tanker is owned by a limited-liability company that shields the names of its shareholders and directors. These companies are often registered in Panama, Liberia or the Marshall Islands, and are intended to protect their owners from liability in the event of a maritime incident.

The Coastal First Nations are also releasing a short web video, exposing these “flag of convenience” ships and the threat they pose to taxpayers and BC’s coastal waters:

“Our research shows that it would be next to impossible to recover additional oil spill cleanup costs from oil tanker companies,” says Sterritt. “It’s time the Conservative government came clean with Canadians about the true cost of an oil spill in BC’s coastal waters, and the truth is the cost is too high.”

Contact Information:

Art Sterritt Executive Director Coastal First Nations Office: 604-696-9889 Cell: 604-868-9110


Coastal First Nations Re-Write Enbridge’s Latest Northern Gateway Pipeline Ad Campaign

Leaked copy of “Open to better” TV ad campaign suggests Enbridge brand has lost credibility with British Columbians. VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – (October 1, 2013) - The Coastal First Nations have released a leaked copy of Enbridge’s latest ad campaign for the Northern Gateway Pipeline, titled “Open to better,” and they have produced their own ad, inspired by the leaked Enbridge ad scripts:

The ad materials, which were provided by Greenpeace, show the company’s strategic shift away from using the Enbridge name, in favour of Executive Vice President Janet Holder - the new “face” of the pipeline.

The scripts for three television ads, titled, “Better by Nature,” “Janet and the Orca” and “Her Home,” which are scheduled to begin running October 7, never mention the company by name, instead repeating the campaign’s tagline, “open to better.” In fact the word “better” appears 14 times in the script for one of the commercials.

“This ad campaign shows just how far Enbridge has fallen in terms of public credibility in BC,” says Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations. “To not even mention their own name seems desperate and I don’t think Ms. Holder will do any better. ‘Open to better’? British Columbians know better.”

Inspired by one of the leaked scripts, “Janet and the Orca,” the Coastal First Nations have produced their own ad, titled, “Koda and the Orca.” It’s about a five-year old First Nations girl who actually has a relationship with whales, and whose family depends on a clean ocean for food.

“It’s ironic that Enbridge’s own ad campaign has provided one of the most powerful stories we could ever tell about why their pipeline and oil tanker project is bad for British Columbia,” says Sterritt. “This campaign is Enbridge’s last kick at the can, and right now, it’s not getting off to a very good start.”

The campaign leak comes at a time when the Federal government is in British Columbia, trying to woo First Nations leaders into supporting projects like the Northern Gateway pipeline. Stephen Harper is expected to make a final decision on the pipeline in December.

Copies of the ad materials are available for reporters.

Contact Information:

Coastal First Nations Art Sterritt Executive Director Cell: 604-868-9110 Office: 604-696-9889

First Nations Accuse BC Government of Violating International Law by Issuing Enbridge Permits; Call on United Nations Special Rapporteur to Investigate

VANDERHOOF, BRITISH COLUMBIA and YINKA DENE TERRITORIES, BRITISH COLUMBIA – (September 30, 2013) – The Yinka Dene Alliance (YDA) is accusing the BC government of violating international law by issuing permits to Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines for drilling and tree removal in their territories, despite their opposition and the lack of consultation on the proposed pipeline. The YDA, whose members' territories make up 25% of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline route, made the accusations in a 15-page submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, who will be making an official visit to Canada from October 7 to 15, 2013.

Mr. Anaya, who was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, will be inquiring into the human rights situation of Indigenous peoples in Canada and will present his findings and recommendations to the Canadian government and the UN Human Rights Council.

“It’s a sad day in BC when Aboriginal leaders are forced to go to the United Nations to have their constitutionally-protected title and rights upheld,” says Chief Martin Louie, Nadleh Whut’en First Nation. “Premier Clark needs to make a decision: Either she supports the Northern Gateway pipeline, or she supports First Nations. It’s a decision that will strongly affect future resource development in Northern BC, including LNG.”

The YDA has repeatedly called for government-to-government meetings with Premier Clark about the proposed pipeline, calling her government’s position on Northern Gateway a litmus test for her new relationship with First Nations.

“Premier Clark told us she would arrange a meeting to discuss these issues,” says Chief Fred Sam, Nak’azdli First Nation. “We are still waiting for that meeting, and in the meantime her government has granted permits for Enbridge to drill and cut down trees in our territory. That decision shows a lack of respect for our people and our laws.”

Nak’azdli elder Lillian Sam expressed a frustration with BC that many people in her community are feeling: “One day I hope the government will listen to us, to our rights”.

The YDA spearheaded the Save the Fraser Declaration, which bans Northern Gateway and similar tar sands projects from the Fraser River watershed as a matter of Indigenous law and has been signed by representatives of more than 160 First Nations.  The YDA has begun work to enforce the ban on the ground, placing public notices in local newspapers and erecting No Trespassing signs in their territories to warn Enbridge and its contractors against trespassing, promising to prosecute violators based on Indigenous law.

In the face of the BC government’s disregard for the Indigenous law ban on Northern Gateway, the YDA has expanded its enforcement actions into the international arena with its submission to the UN Special Rapporteur.

View a copy of the YDA’s UN Special Rapporteur submission here: http://yinkadene.ca/images/uploads/Submission_to_UN_Special_Rapporteur_on_the_Rights_of_Indigenous_Peoples.pdf

Contact Information:

Chief Martin Louie Nadleh Whut'en First Nation 250-570-7759

Geraldine Thomas Flurer Coordinator, Yinka Dene Alliance 250-570-1482 yinkadenealliance@gmail.com

Coastal First Nations Launch Oil Spill Ad Campaign to Counter Harper Government’s Pipeline Public Relations Offensive

Re-vamped Simon & Garfunkel "Sound of Silence" commercial singles out Stephen Harper for upcoming decision on oil tanker traffic in BC’s coastal waters. VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – (September 23, 2013) - The Coastal First Nations launched an oil spill ad campaign today, featuring graphic oil spill imagery, and singling out Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the key federal government decision-maker on whether or not oil tankers will ply BC's pristine coastal waters.

The campaign starts on the same day First Nations leaders are scheduled to meet with federal government officials in Vancouver.

“British Columbians have been very clear in their opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and oil tankers in our coastal waters,” said Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations. “All eyes are now on Mr. Harper. We hope that he will respect the wishes of British Columbians and say no to the proposed project. “

The ad, which features Exxon Valdez Captain Joseph Hazelwood’s radio call to the Coast Guard, accompanied by The Sound of Silence, by Simon & Garfunkel, is a new version of an ad that went viral last March, provoking Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, to claim that a similar spill could never happen in Canada.

The new version includes an iconic photo of a First Nations woman crying after witnessing the devastation of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Ad Facts:

  • A major oil spill could cost Canadian taxpayers $21.4 billion
  • Job losses could total 4,379 person-years of employment
  • 80% of British Columbians oppose oil tanker traffic in BC’s coastal waters

The ad concludes with a simple message: “British Columbians have spoken. Will Stephen Harper listen?”

"The Coastal First Nations have banned oil tankers from our traditional territories in the Great Bear Rainforest, and we have invested more than $300 million dollars over the past decade to establish a sustainable economy on the coast,” said Sterritt. "If Stephen Harper approves the Northern Gateway pipeline, an oil spill could wipeout all of our hard work and silence our communities.”

The month-long ad campaign is running on Global BC. BC is a key electoral battleground, and pipelines and oil tankers are likely to be a campaign issue in the next federal election.

Contact Information:

Art Sterritt Executive Director, Coastal First Nations 604-868-9110