Anishinabek Nation leadership supports shut down of Line 5 pipeline

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE (May 6, 2021) – Anishinabek Nation leadership is disappointed with the federal government’s opposition to the closure of Line 5 in Michigan noting that this ignores the long-standing cross-border commitment to protect the Great Lakes via the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

“It is upsetting to see that the Government of Canada will pick and choose which treaties to uphold based on convenience and profit, rather than in good faith for the health, safety, and well-being of all inhabitants of these lands,” states Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare. “The Government of Canada is not upholding the treaties made with the First Nations but will uphold the 1977 treaty for Pipelines.

Michigan State Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered Enbridge to shut down the Calgary-based Enbridge’s Line 5 by May 12, 2021. Line 5 carries up to 540,000 barrels of crude oil and natural gas liquids across Michigan and under the Great Lakes every day. There are five Great Lakes: Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Erie. Together they comprise the largest body of freshwater making up more than 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater supply, and stretch 750 miles from east to west, bringing drinking water to approximately 40 million people and providing a home to over 4,000 species of plants and wildlife.

Line 5, built in 1953, is part of Enbridge’s mainline system, which carries fuel from the oil sands of Alberta to the Midwestern United States and Eastern Canada.  It runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario, for the refineries in those regions which make gas, propane, home-heating oils, and jet fuels.

In August 2020, four Tribes (Bay Mills Indian Community, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi) had been granted the right to participate on Enbridge’s Line 5 permitting process.

The Straits of Mackinac is Bay Mills Indian Community’s home and they have treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather.  Bay Mills is opposing the existing Line 5 pipeline and the tunnel construction project and is being represented by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and Earthjustice in the intervener status and legal proceedings.

Bay Mills continues to oppose the tunnel project and Line 5 concerns include:

  • Impact to Treaty Rights to hunt, fish and gather;
  • Impacts to the environment: ecosystems, fish and wildlife
  • Missing women and children – correlation of Enbridge contractors and the missing

“As First Nations people, we have direct responsibility to protect water and a deep spiritual connection with water. Should anything that’s being transported in these 67-year-old pipelines get into the Great Lakes, it would have devastating effects and irreparable consequences,” says Grand Council Chief Hare. “We stand in solidarity with our relatives on the other side of the Medicine Line who are working relentlessly to protect our Great Lakes. Those in positions of power who can put an end to this environmental threat need to step up and help us in our efforts to protect our water sources.”

The lack of cooperation on this matter violates several United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples including but not limited to:

Article 19: “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous People concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.” 

Article 29: Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources. States shall establish and implement assistance programmes for Indigenous peoples for such conservation and protection, without discrimination.”

Enbridge vows to continue operating the pipeline beyond the deadline set out by Governor Whitmer absent a court order.

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