Canada’s Water Protectors: Chippewas of the Thames

Chippewas of the Thames marched at last years People’s Climate March in Waterloo ~ November 29th, 2016

If you can donate to only one thing this year, I hope you’ll make that a donation to the Chippewas of the Thames.

Supreme Court Grants Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Challenge to Line 9: Community Hopeful of Meaningful Consultation with the Crown

MUNCEY, March 10, 2016 – the Supreme Court of Canada has granted the Chippewas of the Thames leave to appeal a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal relating to an Application before the National Energy Board to repurpose the Line 9 Pipeline.

At issue is whether the Crown exercised its duty to meaningfully consult and accommodate the Chippewas on a project that may potentially impact their Aboriginal and Treaty rights. The Chippewas are challenging the Crown’s paternalistic policies based on denial and extinguishment of rights. Relying on s. 35 of the Constitution and previous Supreme Court rulings, the First Nation continues to urge negotiation and reconciliation.

Chief of the Chippewas of the Thames, Leslee White-Eye welcomed the decision, saying, “Our community is pleased by this forward step but the path before us is still long as we continue to seek protection of our Aboriginal and Treaty rights. We need to bring home that we are not acting alone in the action, nor that it is for our sole benefit but an attempt to seek protection of our water – these energy developments are one of many across the nation impacting our rights”.

According to Chief White-Eye, “Our members were very distressed by the Federal Court of Appeal’s dismissal of the appeal when they failed to acknowledge our Aboriginal and Treaty rights.  The Court did not consider previous decisions, which establish the Crown’s duty to meaningfully consult with and accommodate us on projects that may potentially impact those rights, such as Line 9.”

The Crown’s failure to consult has stalled negotiations, prevented Chippewas of the Thames from benefiting from their collective rights and has impeded economic development for all stakeholders. It has also undermined the Nation’s development as a government. Still, Chief White-Eye remains optimistic by stating that “a positive final decision from the Supreme Court will hopefully pave the way for reconciliation with the Crown.”

Supreme Court Grants Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Challenge to Line 9: Community Hopeful of Meaningful Consultation with the Crown

Myneengun Henry of Chippewas of the Thames
Myneengun Henry of Chippewas of the Thames discusses the issues after the 2016 People’s Climate March

The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada this month for an appeal hearing on the change to the pipeline which travels through Chippewas land, a change which members — along with critics and environmentalists — warn could lead to an environmental catastrophe.

The reversal has been greenlighted by the National Energy Board, but, the Chippewas aruge, without the Crown first fulfilling its constitutional duty to consult the First Nation.

While the appeal takes place at the Supreme Court, supporters are organizing a “fill-the-Hill” demonstration in Ottawa that aims to get attention on Parliament Hill down the street.

“The immediate plan now is to bring attention to the Supreme Court,” said Chippewas of the Thames Chief Leslee White-Eye.

“If there is an opportunity to unify physically in support of water, future generations and a long-term plan, we can convey those messages and show that solidarity on the outside,” said White-Eye.

“We want to work together. We want to be working with all Canadians on . . . in terms of water protection and the fossil fuel industry and nation-to-nation relationships with First Nations in Canada.

“The decision is going to have considerable impacts either way. I’m calling on Canadians — all of us, as folks that are living in Canada, to reflect at their dinner tables about their make-up. This really does matter. . . How we raise our children to value water.”

—  Chippewas of the Thames is headed to Canada’s highest court to fight the Line 9 oil-flow reversal

People's Climate March
People’s Climate March

Chippewas of the Thames  are appealing the National Energy Board’s approval of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline to the Supreme Court.

This project will carry tar sands diluted bitumen through southern Ontario and east for export.

Donate to the Chippewas Line 9 opposition GoFundMe campaign here.

Attend the Supreme Court Rally in Ottawa!

There’s a Kitchener GoFundMe Campaign to help people get to Ottawa

On November 30th, on unceded Algonquin territory in Ottawa, Clyde River Inuit and the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation are heading to the Supreme Court to uphold the legal right of Indigenous People to be consulted on energy projects that will impact their communities. A win at the court could be a watershed for the future of Indigenous rights and environmental justice.

Bus Tickets: Supreme Court Rally – Clyde River and Chippewas of the Thames

For those wishing to attend (and/or help others attend) the Supreme Court Rally:

If you are unable to attend the court support rally, you can show support by signing this petition:

Demand the NEB respect Indigenous Rights! Sign to support Chippewas of the Thames First Nation!

The Chippewas of the Thames need to raise additional funds.  Please donate if you can:

Further reading:
The Star: The Chippewas of the Thames protest pipeline
Supreme Court of Canada Docket Page  
Chippewas of the Thames Factum for the Line 9 case before the Supreme Court of Canada:


Image Credits

Photos by Laurel L. Russwurm released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.  You’ll find more photos in my Flickr album.

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