Grand Chief Serge ‘Otsi’ Simon on NEB Review of Energy East Pipeline

In response to this NEB email of last week, please find below a message from the Grand Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake addressed to all of the Indigenous intervenors in this NEB Energy East process.


She:kon Nation leaders and representatives,

I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to you after receiving this communication from the NEB last week. I do not agree with the NEB on much, but I do agree with the NEB that Indigenous Nations have to talk and work together on this file – so I decided to follow up on their suggestion.

This latest communication from the NEB is just one more example of how flawed this whole Energy East process is. We’ve known for a long time now that this process lacks legitimacy: how can the NEB credibly analyze the pros and cons of the project when it has refused to consider maybe the biggest danger associated with the project – the way it will lead to a major expansion of Alberta Tar Sands production. Such expanded production will only increase the suffering of Indigenous communities living near or downstream of the Tar Sands projects and will put us all at risk by contributing massively to climate change. On top of it, we know full well that at the end of their rigged process, the NEB will end up recommending to Canada to authorize the project – before Canada even begins to consults us.

But even though the NEB will ignore our rights and sovereignty, in this latest NEB communication, we find out that they want to pay lip service to our traditions and cultures by having us record and send them “our stories, lessons and knowledge”! But just in case we got the wrong impression and thought that they actually cared about what we had to say, they make clear in their communication that they don’t want to hear our “opinions about the Project” or “whether or not to approve the Project”.

Let me be clear: I, like many of you, am not against development if it will make life better for my people. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow a project like Energy East to jeopardize their future. If we can’t say no to this nightmare of a project, a project that puts all of us at risk, whether from a toxic oil spill or from catastrophic climate change, when will we be able to draw the line?

We certainly cannot rely on the federal government or provincial governments to stand up to such madness. Last week, while the forests of the West were burning (which will happen more and more as the planet keeps warming) and while Alberta experienced one of the biggest oil pipeline spills in Canadian history, the provincial premiers were busy agreeing to a so-called “National Energy Strategy” aimed at facilitating pipeline projects.

It’s worth noting as well that this 5 million litre (!) tar sands spill in Alberta last week was caused by a breach in a brand new double hulled pipeline. And it’s worth underlining that the famous “failsafe” spill detection system we hear so much about failed to discover the spill. As with most pipelines spills, someone walking by found it:

So I’ll participate in their rigged little NEB process, but with my eyes wide open and in the hopes of building an alliance with all of you to stop this project. Please find attached then a document that will hopefully aid in the building of such an alliance – a proposed Indigenous Treaty against Tar Sands expansion and all its pipelines, trains and tankers.

And for more info on all the above issues, free from government or industry bias, see the fact sheets at the following address:

Nia:wen kó:wa.

Grand Chief Serge ‘Otsi’ Simon

Mohawk Council of Kanesatake


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