This is a 2 Part interview with Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
(Treaty 8) about Idle No More
, Bill C-45 and FIPA. He discusses how the weakened environmental laws will affect Treaty 8 where the Chipewyan First Nation people reside, right next to the oilsands production area. He calls for unity among all Canadians and First Nations people, to become informed how these bills will change our way of life, and to fight for our rights together.
Chief Allan Adam was elected in 2007 as Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and now he is into his second term. Prior to being Chief, Allan was an ACFN councillor where he held the housing portfolio.
Allan Adam grew up in the community of Fort Chipewyan and is acutely aware of the environmental and social issues that this First Nation deals with.
Chief Adam is always lending a helping hand, listening to people and volunteering. He has a solid reputation as being one of the best MC’s in town.
GCV: What kind of effect will the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPA) have on First Nations communities in northern Alberta, specifically, for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations (Treaty 8), if it is passed in the next few days or weeks?
There are a lot of things being played out here. What Prime Minister Harper is doing is selling pieces of our land to foreign governments. How do you view China owning a piece of our land so they can do what they want with it? China has a poor environmental record. Will they own a piece of Canada and will they then be directing us in our own country?
GCV: How can FIPA be a good deal for the environment and the federal government if our natural resources are at risk and the Canadian government can be sued for huge amounts of money if the government did anything to limit their profits i.e. protecting the environment? Do you think this is why the environmental laws were weakened or deleted altogether? Did the federal government consult with First Nations about this?
The federal government never consulted with First Nations about the weakening of environmental laws. The Harper government gave the green light to foreign investors to come here to do what they want in terms of development. In more ways than one, Canada and the provinces across Canada, are selling our natural resources to foreign investors but they are not seeing any return.
When you look at any major city across Canada, you see the deficits that they are incurring in regards to maintaining delivery and services of water, etc…for the day to day necessities of life. The fact remains that any time they create a budget, there is an increase in the budget to satisfy the needs of the people but in the meantime, we are creating more of a deficit for Canada. When you create a deficit in the Federal Reserve Fund, it escalates. Why is it there is a deficit in the Federal Reserve and Canadians are suffering? We are getting duped. They always act to benefit the 1%.
GCV: Does the Omnibus Bill C-45 obliterate Treaty rights and prior agreements? Is there anything First Nations or Canadian environmental groups and social justice groups can do to override or rescind especially Bill C-45 or is it too late because it is now the law, since it was passed on December 14, 2012?
That’s why I say to the people of Canada in general and the First Nations people it is time to revolt against this federal government. This federal government will create laws that are going to affect the every day lives of ordinary citizens. People don’t know the extent to what is going on behind the scenes and how these changes in laws are going to affect Canadians. They think they are not going to be affected by them but they will be affected.
The people have to get informed about what is going on and how these bills will change our lives so therefore in my view, if the people were to revolt and say enough is enough and look at the whole landscape around us to ask, ‘Am I worth more than what I am getting from our great country?’ Is our country giving up our sovereignty for each Canadian citizen and First Nations people for corporate profit? Ask yourself, is this what I am really worth as a citizen of Canada?
The people have to shut down this country for a while. If we don’t target the natural resources in regards to what is going on, they will continue to manipulate our people. I am concerned as a Grandpa about what is going to be left behind for our children. Who is going to walk away with everything?
GCV: How will Bill C-45 and other proposed legislation affect not just First Nations communities but also the lands, water, and the rest of Canada?
In regards to these bills that have been passed, Canadians in general don’t understand what is happening. While the federal government is creating these laws, the provinces are creating other laws where you have to get permission to go out onto the land. For example, camping is going to be restricted everywhere and you have to get permission from the government to utilize the land. You have to submit the application to the provincial government 3 months before you even go camping. But people don’t realize this. They are so blindsided because they think it applies to the First Nations people but it applies to everyone.
The Public Lands Administration Regulation
(PLAR) law passed on August 25, 2011. Right now First Nations is challenging this law in court that will force everyone to get permission to use the land. The rights of Canadians and First Nations people are being violated and they don’t even know it yet. But I think we will win this case. The result will come out in July.
GCV: How will the recent passing of Bill C-45 affect all First Nations communities across Canada and what secondary rights and freedoms does it take away specifically from First Nations communities? Will western Canada be more affected than eastern Canada by Bill C-45 because of the oilsands expansion and water?
I think in more ways than one, they are trying to do away with the Water Protection Act because when it comes to water, it is a life giving resource that everyone needs to survive. Therefore by weakening the water protection act, it weakens our livelihood and protection as human beings. So the next time you turn on your water, or buy a bottle of water, think about where that water came from. Think about it. If that water is not protected, are you drinking safe good quality water?
Western Canada will be more affected but the fact remains, it will have a domino effect. If you think it is going to get worse here because of the oilsands, what about the fracking that is going to take place across Canada and North America? They drill way down to the hard core of the earth to get the natural gas and they use water to expand it and crack the crust of the earth. This can cause earthquakes. In fact, wherever fracking development is happening today, there are reports that there are tremors happening in those areas. The fracking has already started.
The people that are being put in positions of authority in industry or government are supposed to be the brightest and smartest people to make good decisions but they keep coming up with dumb ideas and laws offering us less protection that will affect ordinary citizens. So it tells you that the brightest people aren’t looking out for the well being of the ordinary citizens of Canada.
GCV: Doesn’t the passing of Bill C-45 give foreign investors the right to take our fresh water across Canada to do what they want with it for profit? In other words, is it more than just the transportation of oil that Canadians and First Nations should be concerned about since Bill C-45 could create an opportunity for foreign investors to buy and sell our fresh water resources in bulk?
It does create an avenue for corporations to own everything. This 1% that want to control the everyday lives of everyday people think that they own everything in this world because of their wealth and well being. I guarantee you that Mother Earth will not take this abuse without consequences. This is for certain. They want to own everything and sell it all.
When you look at gas, it’s about $1.29 per litre in comparison to water that is about $2.00 for a bottle of water and this is only about half a litre. Yes I do think they are going to sell our water in bulk. They want the water to make a profit from it and they know for a fact that water is going to be very profitable in the future.
If water is extracted in bulk, Canada’s weather patterns will shift dramatically and there is a possibility Canada will turn into a frozen wasteland. What they are doing in my view is totally wrong so all people have to unite and stand up for what is right. If you think you belong to the 1%, think again. When you approach them, they don’t want anything to do with you because you look up to them. That’s how they look down on you.
Mother Earth will revolt to take care of herself and there will come a point where she will not take this abuse any longer. Mother Earth is a living, breathing entity. If this abuse continues, then Mother Earth will deal with human beings as she sees fit to deal with them. The outcome will not be pleasant.
GCV: Has the federal or provincial government tried to negotiate with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations on anything related to environmental protection with respect to oilsands expansion in the past 3 months and if so, what was the result?
Nothing at all. They never tried to negotiate anything with respect to the environment or regulatory reform.
In conjunction with Alberta Health, we are doing our own community health study on the effects of the oilsands production on the community which includes land and water.
GCV: As the Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations, what are your goals for the people of Treaty 8 in the wake of this future battle that includes the disregard of your Indigenous rights and freedoms?
My ultimate goal is that we settle all our issues and happily live together ever after.
ACFN contact in Fort Chipewyan:
Communications Coordinator, Erial Deranger, 1-780-903-6598
PART 1 PART 2
Op-Ed: Canada-China corporate rights pact needs debate says Maude Barlow