Line 5 jeopardizes the Great Lakes, Canada needs to re-examine its support

ANISHINABEK TERRITORY (May 2, 2023) — The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) has recommended that Canada and the United States decommission the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline. In the Final Report of its annual session, issued last week, the UNPFII recognized that Line 5 “jeopardize[s] the Great Lakes” and “presents a real and credible threat to the treaty-protected fishing rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Canada.” It called on Canada to reexamine its support for the pipeline, and for the pipeline to be shut down.

“The Anishinabek are the people of the Great Lakes and never before has there been such a unified call for action for both the United States and Canada to abandon failing fossil fuel infrastructure to protect our land and water,” states Bay Mills Indian Community Ogimaakwe (President) Whitney Gravelle.

Members of a mixed coalition of Anishinaabe leaders and environmental advocates attended the forum to advocate for highlighting Line 5 as an Indigenous and Human Rights concern.

“Line 5 carries some of the dirtiest crude oil through the largest surface freshwater system on the planet, trespassing on Indigenous Peoples’ territories and threatening widespread ecological harm. It’s 20 years past its 50-year lifespan, and it’s time to shut it down,” states Michelle Woodhouse, Water Program Manager at Environmental Defence Canada.

Tribal and First Nations look forward to further discussions with both Canada and the United States on this important issue and call for a collaborative effort to address the concerns raised in the report.

“Our decision to address the United Nations Permanent Forum on this matter reflects the Anishinabek Nation’s unwavering commitment to ensuring Canada upholds its international obligations as a member of the global community,” states Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe.

The Anishinabek Nation and Bay Mills Indian Community believe that protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the environment should be a top priority for both governments. The Permanent Forum’s recommendations serve as an important reminder of the need to work together to protect our planet and ensure a sustainable future for all.

The advocacy at the Forum follows a submission focused on Line 5 by representatives of 51 Tribal and First Nations to the U.N. Human Rights Council for Canada’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR).  The submission highlights how Canada’s support for Line 5 violates its human rights obligations and calls on Canada to reverse course and respect and protect the human rights of affected First Nations.