Idle No More protest in UK to target Canadian tar sands

Photo of activists in Oxford from the UK Tar Sands Network

The Idle No More movement is going international: today, it staged a blockade of the busiest border crossing in North America. Tomorrow, it will pair up with activists and a prominent business to protest and presenting a petition to the Canadian High Commission in London, across the pond. 

Below, a press release from the UK Tar Sands Network:

Tomorrow,  Clayton Thomas-Muller - a prominent figure in the indigenous-led ‘Idle No More’ movement currently sweeping Canada - will present a petition to the Canadian government at its High Commission in London. Clayton, from the Mathais Colomb Cree First Nation in Manitoba, will be joined by British and Canadian supporters in a protest organised by the UK Tar Sands Network and Lush Cosmetics.

The Idle No More movement has seen mass protests, road and rail blockades and uprisings across Canada in recent weeks, and continues to grow. Inspirational Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence remains on hunger strike after more than a month, determined to keep fasting until she is able to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston. She wants to discuss the ways in which First Nations’ treaties are being undermined by a series of Bills pushed through by the Canadian government, which aim to make it easier for industries, such as those operating in the controversial tar sands, to extract natural resources from Indigenous lands. On Friday, Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation whose health and traditional livelihoods are being devastated by pollution from the tar sands industry upstream, vowed to blockade the main highway to the tar sands if their demands for a reassertion of Indigenous rights over those of industry are not met.

Today’s solidarity protest in London follows a protest in Oxford last Saturday and will hand in a petition to Prime Minister Harper signed by Oxford residents, calling on his government to ‘stop putting the interests of the tar sands industry and other environmentally destructive companies above the rights of its First Nations’, to uphold the Treaties originally signed by First Nations and the British Crown, and to set aside any legislation that undermines them.

Clayton Thomas-Muller, from the Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, said: 

“The complete gutting of all environmental approval, regulatory and enforcement mechanisms in Canada, through the passing of a series of Bills by the Harper government, mean that the reassertion of Aboriginal & Treaty rights are the last best hope to protect both First Nations’ & Canadians’ water, air and soil from being poisoned forever by big oil and mining corporations. We have a responsibility to stand up and fight against this threat, not just for us but for all those across the earth who are feeling the effects of climate change and water insecurity.”


Jess Worth, from the UK Tar Sands Network, said: 

“We are standing in solidarity today with Indigenous peoples in Canada who are seeing their right to a healthy life in a clean environment on their traditional territories auctioned off to the highest corporate bidder. As the Canadian tar sands industry seeks to squeeze every last drop of ever-more-polluting oil out of a planet that can no longer take it, we all have an interest in the success of the Idle No More movement which seeks to uphold First Nations’ rights and protect Mother Earth.”

James Atherton from Lush Cosmetics, said: 

"It is greatly important to support and encourage movements like Idle No More, which acknowledge human rights and environmental issues as interlinked. For too long, the voices of Indigenous people around the world have been suppressed by colonial, domineering mindsets that live on in political and industrial systems. The Idle No More movement calls for change which is well overdue, and we support the revolution that is needed to create this positive change."

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