August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

First Nations to Shell: Tar Sands Devastating for Boreal Forest

Canadian First Nations and Investors draw line in the tar sands with Shell at Annual General Meeting
Press statement
Photo: Ben Powless, Mohawk, Copenhangen

Today, Shell executives will face questions from investors, environmental groups and Canadian First Nations representatives over its involvement in the tar sands at its annual general meeting.

FairPensions, a responsible investment charity, has coordinated a special resolution that shareholders will debate calling on Shell to report on the financial, environmental and human rights risks of tar sands, which make up a third of the company’s global resources. The Indigenous Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth Europe have sponsored representatives from the Lubicon Cree First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation, Duncan Lake First Nation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation to be in attendance at the AGM to bring forward questions and concerns about the devastating impacts of tar sands development on Indigenous territory in Northern Alberta.

Many investors have welcomed disclosures made on current tar sands operations, but the company has not provided reassurance about the profitability and risk management of planned ‘in-situ’ projects, which have higher production costs and greenhouse gas emissions. In-situ production is required for the majority of Shell’s vast undeveloped tar sand resources.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner and member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation attending the AGM stated, "While open pit mines are visually horrifying, the In Situ method of extraction is far more carbon-intensive, water-intensive, and energy-intensive. In Situ completely fragments the boreal forest in Canada, which is the largest terrestrial carbon sinks in the world.” Melina goes on to state, “Local communities are continually bearing the brunt of the detrimental effects of Shell's tar sands projects whether it be from toxic emissions and water contamination to the complete fragmenting and decimation of the boreal forest - tar sands development is completely altering our homelands and destroying the very foundation of who we are as Indigenous peoples."

George Poitras, former Chief of the Mikisew Cree Nation situated 250km downstream of major tar sands development has serious concerns about the unrestricted development. “Our people have inhabited Canada’s Athabasca region for thousands of years. In a short 40 years we have seen unfathomable environmental degradation coinciding with the onset of tar sands development. We have seen the waters of the Athabasca River polluted by heavy trace metals with cancer-causing carcinogens which according to prominent scientists are up to five times worse than what is being reported. Our waters and our lands are all intrinsically linked to our ability to survive, are all intrinsically linked to our ability to pass on our cultural and traditional ways of our lives. When you remove the land and pollute our waterways you are in effect causing the extinction of my people’s way of life, you are in effect causing cultural genocide of my people.”

Shell currently has three major operations in the area and has preliminary plans to expand. Many First Nation communities have responded with interventions in the environmental impact assessment and regulatory process. First Nations litigations have been launched to further delay or stop Shell’s illegal encroachment into their traditional territories.

Contacts for media enquiries/interviews:
In Europe: Contact Eriel Deranger, Rainforest Action Network, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
European Cell: +4407916945255 Email:
In North America: Contact Clayton Thomas-Muller Indigenous Environmental Network
Cell 613 789 5653 Email:
Notes for Editors
The resolution and supporting statement are available at:; Shell’s response to the resolution is available at:; An investor briefing on the resolution is available at:; Shell has 20 billion barrels of tar sands resource among 66 billion barrels of oil equivalent globally.;
The Indigenous Environmental Network is a North American based Environmental and Justice organization whose mission is to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth from toxic contamination and corporate exploitation.;

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Clayton Thomas-Muller
Indigenous Environmental Network
Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign
294 Guigues Ave.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1N 9H8
Home Office: 613 789 5653
Cell: 218 760 6632;
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As always, thank you Brenda, I am grateful for your dedicated reporting.

I would like to share with fellow readers this adjacent related news as well...

'World's biggest' forest protection deal for Canada
Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 17:33 UK
By Richard Black Environment correspondent, BBC News

Please go to the link to read the article. Here's an excerpt:
"Timber companies and environment groups have unveiled an agreement aimed at protecting two-thirds of Canada's vast forests from unsustainable logging.

Over 72 million hectares are included in what will become the world's largest commercial forest conservation deal.

Logging will be totally banned on some of the land, in the hope of sustaining endangered caribou populations. "

I do not yet know how these two events intersect, but I felt it does well to point it out in tandem.

Blessings and peace,
Rick / TwoHawks