Buffalo River Dene Nation NGO




Statement to UN




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October 15, 2006

Native Communities our "Third World"

It's shameful that the United Nations - not the federal government - will be the group highlighting the neglect of native treaty rights in Hobbema next month, says the dean of native studies at the University of Alberta.

Ellen Bielawski says a century of ignorance has made aboriginal communities Canada's "Third World embarrassment."

"(Canada) skims along on its international reputation as a peacekeeper, a place of good social programs and all that, yet we have this great black hole that we are ignoring.

"It shouldn't take a UN visit, but the failure of our government to honour treaty rights for things like land and resources is an embarrassing bit of our history." more>>

September 30, 2006

Canada has opposed the United Nations Draft Declaration of Indigenous Rights

On June 29, 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a Draft Declaration of Indigenous Rights. The Declaration affirms the right of self-determination of Indigenous Peoples, including the right to traditional territory and resources, and the right of Indigenous Peoples to oversee their own education in their own languages. It was passed by a vote of 30-2–- Russia joining Canada in opposition to the Declaration. more>>

August 26, 2006

De Beers Canada and North Slave Metis Alliance sign impact benefit agreement for Snap Lake

The North Slave Metis Alliance and De Beers Canada Inc. are pleased to announce that they have signed an Impact Benefit Agreement for the Snap Lake Project in the Northwest Territories.

This agreement formalizes the NSMA's participation in the Snap Lake Mine through the establishment of business contracts, training and employment opportunities, scholarships and financial benefits. more>>


August 8, 2006

Whose Forests?

The stage is set for corporations to make a grab for control of Crown forests. According to the Supreme Court of Canada, Crown lands are held in trust by the federal and provincial governments for the benefit of all people, including those not yet born. Yet vast areas of Crown forest in Canada are managed by a handful of companies, according to a report written by the Global Forest Watch. The 2000 report, entitled Canada's Forests At A Crossroads, states that "These corporations - because of the revenues and jobs they control - are in a position to significantly influence provincial forest policies." Public demand for more sustainable forestry and the growing momentum behind First Nations land claims are threatening the forest industry's ability to clear-cut at will. Corporations argue that in order to secure investments, they will need certainty of future timber supplies, and they are looking to government policies for a guarantee. more>> 

August 5, 2006

Ottawa Ready to Kick-start NWT Gas Hunt

The hunt for natural gas could resume in the Fort Liard area of the Northwest Territories as the federal government prepares to open land for exploration for the first time in a decade.

It is a significant shift and comes after a long struggle by Chief Harry Deneron of the Acho Dene Koe Band in Fort Liard, who fought anti-development sentiment led by Herb Norwegian, grand chief of the Dehcho First Nations, of which Liard is a part.

“For Harry, he's got much bigger things in mind than just this rights issuance,” said Shane Parrish, a consultant who is Mr. Deneron's closest adviser.

The process to issue exploration rights will begin this month, Mr. Parrish said, with two parcels expected to be awarded in January. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada said final approval from Minister Jim Prentice is required but a decision is expected later this month. more>> 

August 4, 2006

BRDN UN Emissary, Adelard Blackman Speaks at United Nations WGIP

Excerpt: It is no coincidence that the Canadian government so adamantly opposes the adoption of the Draft Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They believe that it will present a threat because of the power that will give to Indigenous Peoples, especially in the area of free, prior and informed consent as it applies to lands, territories and resources. However, they should realize that the Declaration simply recognizes the rights that we have always had as Indigenous Peoples, many of which were also recognized and affirmed, albeit in a different form, in the Treaties agreed to by the Indigenous Nations. These are only some of the reasons why the Canadian government opposes our rights as enunciated in the Declaration. more>>

August 4, 2006

First Nations Discuss National Plan to Protect Treaty Rights

Hundreds of aboriginal people converged on a historic site north of Winnipeg on Monday for a week-long event aimed at ensuring that the treaty rights of Canada's First Nations are honoured.

Lower Fort Garry, North America's oldest intact stone fur trading post, is the site of the National Treaties 1-11 Gathering, where native leaders and elders will discuss the original spirit and intent and the modern enforcement of Canada's numbered treaties, which were signed more than a century ago.

Dennis Whitebird, treaty relations commissioner for Manitoba, said it's possible a new treaty protection office will be the end result of the meetings. more>>


July 25, 2006

Aboriginal Rights Stuck in the Past, Critic Says

When Guy Michaud talks about his role as Louis Riel in a re-enactment of one of Canada's most famous trials, he's engulfed by a sense of deja vu.

He believes governments have made little progress in recognizing the rights of First Nations people since Riel was hung for treason more than a century ago.

"Some would say that we're still stuck in 1885," said Michaud.

He points to modern-day conflicts between governments and natives that include the tense native occupation near Caledonia, Ont., earlier this year and the tragic standoff at Ipperwash in 1995 during which native protester Dudley George was shot and killed by police. Both standoffs had their roots in treaties that were signed hundreds of years ago and subsequent controversial land sales. more>>

July 24, 2006

Energy Genocide, Backlash Yield New Peoples' Movement in the Americas

The longtime exploitation of indigenous peoples' land and water resources in the Americas by governments and corporations has resulted in ''energy genocide'' for indigenous peoples; now, this energy genocide is unleashing an environmental movement, with Native people taking on governments and holding corporations accountable, according to the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Tom Goldtooth, executive director of IEN, said the seizure of land, mineral and water rights, particularly in Central and South America, has resulted in the rape, torture and murder of indigenous peoples.

Goldtooth said globalization, pushed by countries like the United States, has allowed U.S. corporations to come into the territories of indigenous communities of Central and South America in need of minerals, oil, gas, water, trees and the medicinal knowledge of indigenous peoples.

''This market-based system has created privatization of land and competition of natural resources, causing our indigenous brothers and sisters of the Latin American countries to organize and resist. Indigenous peoples are mobilizing against mining companies in Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru and Panama. more>>

July 18, 2006

Notes from the Assembly of First Nations Convention


UN Declaration

Fontaine asked all native leaders to join in the fight to convince the Canadian government to agree on the United Nations Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada and Russian were the only two of 30 voting states who opposed the statement that recognizes the rights of native peoples around the globe. more>>

July 10, 2006

"Livelihood Rights" put Modern Spin on
Ancient Treaties

Alberta has not heard the last of an emerging aboriginal claim, made at northern pipeline hearings in High Level, to an enlarged native role in resource industries.

Enter "livelihood rights," a doctrine developed to give practical modern meaning to century-old Indian treaties.

Resistance by the Dene Tha' in the High Level region against the Alberta leg in the $7.5-billion Mackenzie gas project is only the first attempt at using the new approach to try changing a development, said Jim Webb, a policy adviser to northern native communities.

Livelihood rights are cornerstones of 1980s and '90s aboriginal treaties in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Arctic "comprehensive land claims settlements" are built on native resource ownership, development partnerships, endowment funds or revenue shares for acquiring business assets and roles in supervising resource projects through regional regulatory agencies. more>>

July 6, 2006

Northern Aboriginal Group Says Line on Map has Denied Pipeline Benefits

A northern aboriginal group told a review panel for a proposed $7.5-billion pipeline Wednesday that it has been denied any benefits from the project and influence over its construction - simply because of a line on a map they never drew.

Chief James Ahnassay of the Dene Tha looks at the federal millions given aboriginals in the Northwest Territories and the access and benefits agreements they've signed with the natural gas project's proponents. He wonders when his people just across the Alberta boundary - and just as likely to be affected - will get their share. more>>

July 4, 2006

UN is Misleading Indigenous Peoples, Claims Teton Sioux Nation Council

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was passed by the new United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday, June 29, 2006, but not all Indigenous nations are happy.

"The Declaration that was passed by the UN Human Rights Council is not the Sub commission text that was supported by the Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council," stated Charmaine White Face, Spokesperson.  "Many of the original working Articles were changed by the Chairperson, or totally deleted," she adds.

The Working Group Chairperson, Luis Chavez, (Peru) submitted his own version of a Declaration which he always called the Chairman's text. In December, 2004, six Indigenous representatives conducted a hunger strike-prayer fast in the meeting room at the UN to insure that the original Sub commission text would be sent to the Human Rights Commission as there was no consensus on the Chair's text. As of Feb. 2006, there was still no consensus. It is unusual that this so-called Declaration was passed by the Human Rights Council since the Chairs' recommendations did not have the consensus of the Working Group. Unfortunately it is misleading the whole world and will give false hope to the very peoples it is to be helping, the Indigenous peoples of the world.

June 27, 2006

Liberals Give Conservatives a Failing Grade
On National Aboriginal Day

Liberal Opposition Critics and Members of Parliament today gave Stephen Harper’s Conservative government a failing grade in their first report card on Aboriginal policy.

"Whether it’s their policy on education, water, housing, economic opportunities or health care, the Conservatives receive a failing grade," said Anita Neville, Indian and Northern Affairs Critic. "It is crucial that the Kelowna Accord be honored with its full funding commitment, so that its abandonment not be added to the list of injustices committed to Canada’s Aboriginal people."

Liberal Members agree the government’s rejection of the Kelowna Accord, signed last year between federal and provincial governments as well as the leaders of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, was the key failure of the Harper government. more>>

June 21, 2006

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Urges Adoption of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Excerpt: "I would like to appeal to all the members of the Council to please support the resolution co-sponsored, as of now by 17 governments,  calling for the adoption of this Declaration. This will be a historic action which will clearly send out the message that the Human Rights Council is serious in its commitment to bring justice to indigenous peoples who have been most marginalized and whose basic human rights have been violated since colonization up to the present. I am appealing specifically to the member-states from Asia and Africa, where the biggest number of indigenous peoples are found, to give their full support for the adoption of this Declaration."

Click here to download the written statement.
Click here to view the UN Human Rights Council webcast.

June 19, 2006

Canada Wants Delay to Key
Aboriginal UN Treaty

Canada said on Monday it wanted the United Nations to delay a vote on a key draft treaty enshrining the rights of indigenous peoples, a document which has already taken 20 years to put together.

Political opponents accused Canada's Conservative government of trying to sabotage the treaty, which is supposed to be adopted soon by the U.N's new Human Rights Council in Geneva.

But Ottawa, which said the treaty could wreck talks on granting its native Indians control of land and resources, said it wanted two more years of discussions. more>>

June 22, 2006

Aboriginal Day: Bringing People Together

The sky was overcast and the forecast called for rain, but the temperature was just right as hundreds of people gathered around the stage at Heritage Park for Aboriginal Day ceremonies Wednesday.

Across Canada, many were celebrating the 10th Anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, with everything from aboriginal dancers and drummers to teepee villages and cleansing ceremonies.
The unique and traditional heritage of Aboriginal peoples was commemorated for the second year in a row in Fort McMurray.
Throughout the half-day program activities focused on gathering to share traditions such as dance, music and food.

In one teepee, the Dene Community Youth Association from Janvier showed traditional craft making.

“I am a culture lady, I’ve been doing this with my mom since I was 11-years-old,” said Lena Herman, a volunteer with the non-profit association that teaches children how to sew items like barretts and change purses. more>>

June 15, 2006

Northgate Minerals and Tse Keh Nay - 3 Nations - Sign Cooperation Agreement

Northgate Minerals Corporation and the Tse Keh Nay (3 Nations) are pleased to announce that they have signed a Cooperation Agreement related to the operation of Northgate's existing Kemess South mine in Northern British Columbia.

In the Agreement, the Tse Keh Nay (3 Nations) consisting of the Takla, Tsay Keh Dene and Kwadacha First Nations have agreed to formally respect the rights and interests of Northgate's wholly owned subsidiary Kemess Mines Ltd. to operate the Kemess South Mine within the traditional territories of the Tse Keh Nay. In exchange for this recognition, Kemess Mines Ltd. has agreed to respect the Tse Keh Nay's rights in the area and to provide funding to the Tse Keh Nay in the amount of Cdn$1,000,000 per year over the remaining Kemess South mine life. The funding will be used to benefit the Tse Keh Nay member communities.

As part of the Agreement, Northgate and the Tse Keh Nay (3 Nations) have agreed to meet twice per year during the term of the Agreement to discuss issues of mutual interest related to Northgate's ongoing activities at the Kemess South mine. more>>

June 13, 2006

Caledonia Talks Back On

Talks aimed at resolving an aboriginal land standoff will go ahead after Six Nations protesters dismantled contentious barricades near Hamilton in a move heralded by Ontario's premier as a positive step.

Protesters worked overnight to remove a barricade of tires and tangled metal that blocked a highway bypass in Caledonia, Ont., and another on a railway line, less than 24 hours after Premier Dalton McGuinty suspended talks with Six Nations leaders because of recent violence.

“Given this progress, I see no reason right now why talks will not continue this Thursday as scheduled,” Mr. McGuinty told the provincial legislature.

The “good influence” First Nations leaders exercised in having the barrier removed set the stage for further negotiations that “will go a long way to get the community's social and economic life back to normal,” Mr. McGuinty said.

The Six Nations protesters began their occupation of the Caledonia, Ont., housing development on Feb. 28, claiming the land was stolen from them more than 200 years ago. more>>

June 9, 2006

Canada tables offer to end Mac conflict; Prentice positive, Deh Cho hesitant

Without meeting the Deh Cho demand for shared ownership and jurisdiction over the entire settlement area, the offer is seen by the government as giving the Deh Cho a substantial role in resource development and land conservation.

A June 20 meeting is scheduled for Yellowknife, when federal negotiators will provide further information on the proposals.

The Deh Cho, whose land covers the lower 40 percent of the Mackenzie pipeline right of way, have insisted on a land agreement and taxation rights before any pipeline construction, several times starting and threatening legal action to achieve their objectives.

Prentice rated the offer as “fair.” Deh Cho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian said the proposal is “lowball” and “way out in left field,” while conceding there are elements that could lead to a resumption of talks with the Canadian government. more>>

June 8, 2006

Aboriginals Upset with Northern
Housing Payments

Peter Liske, a chief with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, said he and fellow northern chiefs are unhappy that the money will be spent by the N.W.T. government instead of directly through aboriginal groups.

In southern Canada, Ottawa pledged to spend $450 million to improve conditions on reserves, including housing, and another $300 to provinces to spend exclusively for aboriginal housing off-reserve.

It also pledged $300 million to the three northern territories, but made no stipulation on who should receive that housing.

“We have a crisis in the N.W.T, but all the money is not being earmarked to the First Nations … like what it was intended for, and now they’re putting money all over the place,” Liske said. “Sixty-two units is going to the city of Yellowknife (where 80 per cent of the population is not aboriginal) and why? more>>

June 6, 2006

BRDN Launches Website

The Buffalo River Dene Nation launched its first website to provide online information to the world regarding its current struggle with the Canadian government. The website is dedicated to raising awareness of the current contentious legal situation over land rights with the government of Canada. The Buffalo River Dene Nation is in danger of losing access to their traditional territories and needs the support of people interested in indigenous issues, human rights, and international law. more>>

June 2, 2006

Shell Looks to Turn Sand
into Oil

Although oil sands is seen as the big new thing in the oil industry, it is in fact very old. Local aboriginal people used the bitumen for waterproofing canoes 300 years ago.

A man called Alfred von Hammerstein first drilled for oil near Fort McMurray in 1906 and although the potential of the oil sands was discovered soon after that, attempts to commercialise it did not get going until the 1960s. Now it is believed that the total invested by a variety of companies in oil sands in Canada has been $23bn, with a further $7bn more planned to be spent by 2012.

But the local aboriginals have not gone away. The Fort McKay First Nation, the closest indigenous community to the Muskeg River Mine, has been fighting to assert its rights under land treaty settlements. Shell has just agreed with the First Nation to facilitate its entry into the oil sands business through an option to acquire and work with Shell on Lease 90 at Athabasca.

Chief Boucher, head of the First Nation people made up of Cree and Dene people who have traditionally fished and hunted on the Athabasca river, accepts that this type of mining took its toll on the land and the local way of life. But he too is willing to stake a bet on oil sands: "Development is occurring and ... this is our opportunity to participate fully and build a long-term economic vision for Fort McKay." more>>

May 31, 2006

Canada Pays Environmentally
for U.S. Oil Thirst

Huge mines here turning tarry sand into cash for Canada and oil for the United States are taking an unexpectedly high environmental toll, sucking water from rivers and natural gas from wells and producing large amounts of gases linked to global warming.

The digging -- into an area the size of Maryland and Virginia combined -- has proliferated at gold-rush speed, spurred by high oil prices, new technology and an unquenched U.S. thirst for the fuel. The expansion has presented ecological problems that experts thought they would have decades to resolve.

"The river used to be blue. Now it's brown. Nobody can fish or drink from it. The air is bad. This has all happened so fast," said Elsie Fabian, 63, an elder in a native Indian community along the Athabasca River, a wide, meandering waterway once plied by fur traders. "It's terrible. We're surrounded by the mines." more>>


May 22, 2006

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: Statement by UNPO Member Buffalo River Dene Nation

UNPO Member Representative Adelard Blackman took the opportunity to convey a clear and frank message on the situation of the Buffalo River Dene Nation and the violations committed against this indigenous community. more>>

April 13th, 2005

Indigenous Peoples Oppose National Geographic & IBM Genetic Research Project That Seeks Indigenous Peoples' DNA

The Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism (IPCB) is alarmed at the launching of new global genetic research project that will focus on the collection of Indigenous peoples DNA. The National Geographic Society and the IBM Corporation announced the launch of the Genographic Project today that purports to “help people better understand their ancient history.” The project, funded by the Waitt Family Foundation, expects to collect 100,000 DNA samples from Indigenous peoples around the world. The taking of samples will be coordinated by ten worldwide regional research centers. With centers in Australia, Brazil, North America and Southeast Asia, Sub-Sahara and South Africa, this project is certain to affect many Indigenous peoples around the world. more>>

February 2, 2005

Buffalo River Dene Nation: Indian-American Seeking Redress of Treaty Violations

A group of grassroots organizers from around the world spent last week at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, sharpening their skills and making connections with academic experts, Harvard students, and other grassroots leaders.

The Bridge Builders 2005 conference attracted participants with a wide variety of backgrounds, including two fighting AIDS in Ukraine and Uganda and an activist for indigenous housekeepers and domestic workers in Bolivia.

Other participants are fighting to preserve indigenous culture in Ecuador, running a micro-finance bank in India, battling for basic health and economic rights in Nicaragua, and seeking rights for the Buffalo River Dene Nation in Canada. more>>

November 29, 2004

Hunger Strike by Indigenous Peoples' Representatives at the United Nations

Today, November 29th, 2004, at 11am, we, Indigenous Peoples' delegates, declare a hunger strike and spiritual fast inside the United Nations Palais des Nations in Geneva, during this 3rd week of the 10th session of the Intersessional Working Group on the United Nations Draft Declaration for the Rights on Indigenous Peoples. more>>