Treaty Violations & Line 9

||| by Sâkihitowin Awâsis

The National Energy Board is not seeking free, prior, and informed consent from First Nations communities and Indigenous Peoples.  Although the project cuts across Haudenosaunee territory (the Haldimand land tract), federal officials have ignored the concerns raised by Haudenosaunee Confederacy in late 2011.  The Enbridge line 9 reversal application and review process already has violated the Nanfan treaty, the Two-Row Wampum, Friendship Wampum belt, the Great Peace of Montreal treaty, the Haldimand Proclamation, section 35 of the Constitution Act, and the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  In late 2011, the Oneida Nation of the Thames band council also submitted a statement to voice concerns, which seemingly have been ignored.

We are ALL treaty people! Honour the treaties!

Pictured above is the Silver Covenant Chain Wampum, one of the earliest agreements made between the Haudenosaunee and Settler nations. This belt accompanies the Two Row Wampum, and is based in the principle of mutual aid and respect. Depicted above is an Onkwehon:we (Indigenous) and non-Indigenous person holding a silver chain, in agreement that if there are difficulties or trouble we will pull on the chain to let the other know we need to help one another. The principles of this international treaty agreement have not been upheld by settlers.

For a lot of people colonization is not something of the past, but an ongoing destructive process that continues to degrade the self-government and diverse cultures of Indigenous Peoples today.

Although treaties involve principles of good relations between Indigenous Nations and Settler Nations, many treaties have been broken. When European governments were trying to create and legitimize their own settlements on the Americas, treaties were still signed by independent Indigenous Nations, who are not subjects of the British crown.

For instance, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of Six Nations was forced off of land that was promised to them by the Canadian government, yet are currently being denied compensation. This means that the government is failing to uphold the Two Row Wampum treaty, the basis of which is Peace, Respect, and Friendship.

Treaty making is the appropriate starting place for resolving conflict between Indigenous Nations and the settler state in ways that are peaceful and meaningful for both parties, in the spirit and intent of the original treaty-making.  

Further information –


Pipeline threats

The pipeline crosses multiple waterways, including the Grand River which flows through Six Nations territory, and the Thames river, through London, Ontario. The Great Lakes are downstream.

Line 9 was built in 1975. Corrosive tar sands and increased flow pressure would increase the risk of a disastrous breach. A similar Enbridge pipeline ruptured along the way to Sarnia in 2010, spoiling 40 kilometers of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.  Enbridge lists more than 600 pipeline spills between 1999 and 2008, as well, when this company’s pipelines released approximately 21 million litres of fossil fuels.

A fast-tracked review

Enbridge is being granted a fast-tracked review for their line 9 tar sands pipeline reversal through Ontario.

The official hearings are not legitimate or democratic for some of the following reasons:

  • The federal cabinet will try to overrule any review outcomes which they do not approve of.
  • Concerns about tar sands extraction are among numerous crucial topics that will be considered to be ‘irrelevant’ in this far-too-narrowly defined hearing.
  • This project violates treaties with indigenous peoples.  The pipeline reversal would flow across the Haldimand Land tract, without Six Nations consent.
  • Enbridge has not provided adequate notice of their plans, and very few Ontario residents are aware of this pipeline.
  • The web site for the official hearing is not accessible; it evidently was written for lawyers.  Yet, citizens generally are unable to hire lawyers to represent them in this review process.
  • Months were slashed from the timeline of this review, which originally was scheduled for the fall.  This fast-tracked review further undercuts the potential for democratic participation.

This project should not be approved without the free, prior, and informed consent of all peoples who may be impacted.

The tar sands industry is attempting to build as many pipelines as they can, and the National Energy Board seems to be helping them to do so.


Enbridge declines to pay for new studies on oil spill damage

|| “

The pipeline company responsible for the 2010 tar sands oil spill that fouled almost 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River is refusing to pay $800,000 to complete two new studies to assess the spill’s damage.

Trustees of the National Resource Damage Assessment, an effort to assess the damage caused by oil spills and other hazards, wants Enbridge to participate in the studies, which involve vegetation and recreational use in the area affected by the spill.

The group comprises state and federal agencies, such as the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as two tribal governments.

But Enbridge notified trustees in June and October that it was “declining to cooperate” because adequate data had already been collected.

Trustees disagree.”

view full article:

Enbridge “Open Houses” & Intervenors Announced

|| List of intervenors has been announced by the National Energy Board, which can be found in Letter A11-1 in the Regulatory Document and Procedural update.

NEB Procedural Update:

Upcoming “open houses” being hosted by Enbridge:

Thursday June 6, 2013

Thistletown Community Centre
925 Albion Road
Toronto, ON
5 – 7:30 p.m.

The Princess Banquet
3330 Pharmacy Avenue
Scarborough, ON
5 – 7:30 p.m.

Monday June 17, 2013

Quinte West Region
Gerry Masterson –
Thurlow Community Centre
516 Harmony Road
Corbyville, ON
5 – 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday June 18, 2013

Port Hope
Canton Community Hall
5323 County Road 10
Port Hope, ON
5 – 7:30 p.m.

Colborne Legion Hall
92 King Street East
Colborne, ON
5 – 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday June 19, 2013

Clarington Region
Clarington Beech Centre
26 Beech Ave.
Bowmanville, ON
5 – 7:30 p.m.

Whitby Curling Club
815 Brock St. N
Whitby, ON
5 – 7:30 p.m.

Thursday June 20, 2013

Croatian Parish Hall
2110 Trafalgar Road
Oakville, ON
5 – 7:30 p.m.

Flamborough Region
Rockton Agricultural Fair Grounds
812 Old Hwy 8
Rockton, ON
5 – 7:30 p.m.

more pipelines burst


|| “The National Wildlife Foundation’s Alexis Bonogofsky lives on the Yellowstone River and has a farm there. When the ExxonMobil oil pipeline below the Yellowstone River burst late Friday night leaking oil into the river and contaminating the local waterway, her farmland was contaminated with oil from the spill. Exxon officials told Alexis that she should not document the effects the spill has on her property and that she should stay from the oil “just to be safe.” They told her “off the record” that she should move her livestock away from the parts of the farm affected by the spill. “

view full article:

Line 9 threatens [K]anada on several levels

|| “MONTREAL — Environmentalists and concerned citizens are gearing up to fight the proposed reversal of the Line 9 pipeline between Sarnia and Montreal, which would allow Alberta oil producers to transport their product to refineries in Eastern Canada. The project goes before the National Energy Board next August. Despite its many Canadian and foreign backers (including all three main federal parties), the project has many things going against it.

It’s a sign of how regionalized the country has become that the tarsands have been developed as far as they have, because they are clearly not in the national interest. If the pipeline ends up conveying oil all the way east to Saint John, where tankers will then take it to the Gulf of Mexico for refining and export to Asia, it won’t improve the energy security of Canadians one bit, and those who live along the pipeline route will have put themselves at risk for nothing.”

view full article:

Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline fuels climate of suspicion in Quebec

|| “In many ways, Sainte-Justine-de-Newton is a typical Quebec village. A stone Catholic church anchors the main street, small businesses are scattered about and behind them, towards the nearby Ontario border, dairy farms speckle the landscape.

But in this town, population 973, its mayor, Patricia Domingos, is taking a stand against one of Canada’s biggest energy companies: Enbridge Inc.

Sainte-Justine is where Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline, a 762-mm-wide steel tube running underground from Sarnia, Ont. to Montreal, enters Quebec. Enbridge, Ms. Domingos claims, tried to win her community’s support for its current proposal to reverse the flow of that pipeline with a financial gift.

“The company tried to buy us,” she said in an interview, adding she has serious concerns about the pipeline’s ability to carry heavier crude at higher volumes under the proposal. “They wanted to hush us up. We didn’t take the money.”

view full article:

Enbridge Line 9 Pipeline: Environmentalists Criticize Onerous Comments Submission Process


“Residents of southern Ontario who want to comment on an Enbridge pipeline project will have to fill out a 10-page questionnaire that asks for a resume and references, environmental groups say.

With public hearings on Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline reversal coming this summer, Environmental Defence and Greenpeace Canada are warning residents they will have a tough time getting their word in edgewise, thanks to new regulations passed as part of the Tories’ 2012 omnibus budget.

Under the new rules, any Ontario resident who lives along the 639-km pipeline route who wants to send in a letter about their concerns must first apply to the [National Energy Board] for permission to send in a letter,” the groups said in a joint statement.”


view full article:




How to Fill Out the NEB Form —

|||[it is strongly encouraged that communities discuss alternative approaches to resistance in the event that the NEB interventions do not stop line 9]

1)      Get the form. You can find it online here: .  You can also find it by visiting the NEB website (, click on Major Applications and Projects, then Enbridge Pipelines Inc – Line 9B reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project.  Scroll down and in the Regulatory Documents section, click on Procedural Update No. 1. You’ll find the Application To Participate pdf there.  Note: You can’t fill out this form electronically (!!!).  However, I’ve attached a form that CAN be filled out electronically (thank you kindly to Sierra Club of Canada for creating this version – hope you don’t mind that I’m sharing it).  Scroll down to page 5 for the form itself.

2)      Fill out the form. Tips:

a.       You are either a directly affected participant or having relevant information or experience or both.  If you are:

                                                               i.      Directly affected: anyone who may want to tell the NEB that they are worried about oil spills from the pipeline and what it might do to the watershed (after all, millions of us get our water from Lake Ontario, which could be contaminated if the pipeline spills into the river.  Also, if you use any of the tributaries or areas the pipeline crosses recreationally, you might be considered directly affected and can write about that.

                                                             ii.      Having relevant information: this might be better for groups applying, who may have specialized local knowledge of an area, population, etc.  But if you have lived in an area for a long time, or have special knowledge of it, by all means, apply under this too!  Note that they request a resume or letter of reference (yes, I recognize how ridiculous it is).


3)      Submit the form. You can do this in several ways. You can fax it in (1-877-288-8803 – Attn Secretary of the Board), mail it:

Secretary of the Board
National Energy Board
444 Seventh Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta
T2P 0X8

If you mail it, note the Board requests 25 copies (!) but you can request to be excused from multiple filings. 

Or you can submit it electronically.  Again, shout out to our friends at Sierra Club of Canada who put together some instructions:

1. Go to the Board’s web site and click on Submit a Document from the menu
2. Click on the link Submit Documents Electronically
3. Complete the form as per the instructions on the screen (see Annex A). Steps include:
• Acknowledging a privacy statement
• Identifying yourself
• attaching PDF files. Note : ensure files are on an accessible drive when you make your submission. You
can add up to 50 files per submission. Each file cannot exceed 5 MB in size.
• identifying paper-only documents. Note : electronic placeholders will be generated so users are aware of
the complete contents of the submission. You can reference up to 50 paper documents. See Step 2B for
more information on mixed-media filings.
• Confirming your submission
4. An on-screen acknowledgement will appear. Note : this is NOT a receipt.
5. You should receive two e-mails at the address that you specified in the form within minutes of having
completed the on-line form acknowledging the receipt of your submission.
• The first e-mail provides key information about your submission such as the list of documents filed and a permanent hyperlink4 (URL) to your submission. Note : a receipt is generated and included as a part of your filing on the NEB web site.
• The second e-mail provides important instructions that you must follow to complete the e-filing process (see Annex C).
6. Follow the link to your submission and print the receipt (see Annex B) for use in Step 4.
Your electronic submission is now complete and immediately available in the Public Inbox. Proceed to Step 4.
Important : In the event that the repository is not operational, parties may submit electronically by filing a diskette or CDRom to the Board along with the Hard Copy. However in the event parties also contemplate effecting service of the document with a notification, parties will need to allow 2-3 days for the document to be posted to the NEB web site on their behalf before providing service in this manner (see Step 5).

                                Don’t forget that you have to mail in or fax one hard copy to the NEB if you submit electronically.


Confused/frustrated/angry yet?  Documents must be received by April 19th at noon Calgary time (if you file electronically, the paper version doesn’t have to be received on time but the filing must happen on time).

For those of you in the Toronto area, I’ll be holding a session next Tuesday on how to fill out the NEB form. 

 Toronto NEB Application Session:

Date: Tuesday April 16, 2013

Time: 5:30pm-7:00pm

Location: Regent Park Centre for Social Innovation (Meeting Room 2, 565 Dundas Street East, a few blocks east of Parliament Street). 

 Come on out on Tuesday April 16th, 2013, and fill out an Application to Participate form that will allow you to write a letter voicing your concerns about the project or present to the Board itself.  We’ll give clear instructions how and send in all the forms after the event. 

Line 9 West End Toronto Event, April 8th 2013

||| by Kristen Phoeniks

On Monday night, despite the cold and rain, over a hundred people showed up to the Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Community Centre in Toronto’s West End. The event was advertised as an opportunity to learn about the Line 9 tar sands pipeline, as well as Nishnaabeg (“Ojibway”) land defender Ron Plain’s legal battle with CN Rail in connection with Idle No More actions.

Judging by the large turnout of West End residents despite the dreary weather, both issues are of great concern to this community. The event began with a 13-minute video by Rachel Deutsch, titled “Line 9: The Tar Sands Come to Ontario”. This video (available at looks at this pipeline that has garnered a great deal of attention over the last year across Ontario and Quebec. The panel of speakers for the evening included Keith Stewart, Greenpeace’s Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, and a father living in Toronto’s West End. Following him was Ron Plain, a tireless activist and land defender from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, located near Sarnia in the heart of Ontario’s ‘Chemical Valley.’

The Line 9 pipeline—which runs from Sarnia, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec, passing through 115 communities along the way—is owned by Enbridge Inc., a company well-known for its controversial Northern Gateway pipeline proposal in northern British Columbia. Line 9 was built in 1975 and has been carrying imported conventional oil from Montreal to refineries in Sarnia. Now, Enbridge is proposing to reverse the flow to carry oil eastward, and increase the capacity from 240,000 barrels per day to 300,000. In addition, Enbridge would like to use the pipeline to carry heavy crude oil, including diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) from Alberta’s Tar Sands.

This proposal has provoked a groundswell of concern among many of the 9.1 million people who live within 50 kilometers of the pipeline. Opponents argue that moving tar sands oil—which is much more corrosive than conventional crude, and much harder to clean when spilled—through a 40-year-old pipeline poses a risk to human and environmental health that cannot be permitted. As well, Indigenous communities have not been meaningfully consulted by Enbridge or the Canadian government, despite the fact that the pipeline passes through 18 First Nations, and Canada’s own laws require consultation for activities which affect Indigenous peoples and their lands. Indigenous people, including those from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Six Nations, and the Oneida Nation of the Thames, have indicated grave concerns with the potential impacts of a Tar Sands pipeline passing through their lands, and are calling on allies to stand with them in opposition to Line 9.

Plain began his talk by telling the audience about dream-catchers. The myth that is told to sell dream-catchers, said Plain, is that they are meant to catch bad dreams. The reality is that traditionally the dream-catcher—which is made to look like a spider’s web—would be hung above a baby’s head to keep the bugs away, with beads and feathers to entertain the child. “The story that’s told is never the story that is,” Plain said. Plain then referenced Attawapiskat, a northern Indigenous community that made headlines last year because of a long-term housing crisis that had community members living in unheated tents and shacks through the winter. The media and government representatives quickly blamed the crisis on First Nations’ wasteful use of taxpayer money, despite the fact that money for First Nations services comes from the communities’ own money, held in trust by the government. “The story that’s told, is never the story that is.

In continuance of the Canadian government’s racist treatment of Indigenous communities, recent legislation—including the Omnibus Bills C-38 and C-45—has been geared towards dismantling environmental protection, changes in funding arrangements for First Nations, even as they shut out Indigenous people from participation in decision-making over activities taking place on their lands.

Aamjiwnaang, Plain’s home community, has already been hard-hit by industrial ‘development’ in and around their community. “I live in the most polluted place on Earth, according to National Geographic,” Ron Plain stated. The land, air and water has been polluted by petrochemical refineries to such a great extent that Aamjiwnaang suffers from soaring levels of cancer, respiratory illnesses, miscarriages, and a sex ratio of two girls born for every boy in his community.

Plain, who has been working to address this blatant environmental racism for decades, told the audience about the charges that have been laid against him in relation to a December blockade of CN rail lines. Plain was a spokesperson for the Idle No More blockade at the request of Aamjiwnaang youth. The Aamjiwnaang community was fed up with the federal government’s dismissal of Indigenous concerns over the impacts of the petrochemical industry on the health of their community, and took peaceful direct action to block CN trains from passing through their community. (more information on the blockade, and the details of Plain’s charges, can be found here:

Though the blockade eventually came down, and though many people were involved in the struggle to bring attention to the fact that the CN rail line illegally crosses through Aamjiwnaang’s territory, Ron Plain is the only person facing charges in relation to the blockade. He has been charged with contempt of court, and is facing two hundred thousand dollars in legal fees. Shockingly, Plain explained that because he has been charged with civil contempt (as opposed to criminal contempt), he also faces potentially indefinite jail time if he is convicted.

Plain’s personal case is linked to an ongoing attempt by the Canadian government to silence activists—especially Indigenous activists—fighting to protect their lands from resource extraction and ‘development.’  He warns listeners that these threats are an attempt to set an example to other activists about the risks of resistance to the colonial government and billion-dollar corporations. “If they can do this to Ron,” he says, “they can do it to you.”

If CN Rail can convict Ron Plain for blocking their transport routes, who’s to say that Enbridge won’t try to do the same against activists opposing Line 9? The massive costs associated with this legal battle indicates that “they’re making justice unaffordable,” and Plain and his supporters have been fundraising intensively in an attempt to win this battle. “I’m Turtle Clan,” Plain said. “When turtles are flipped on their backs, they will die there before asking for help. But I’m here because I need your help. I have to have money raised.” His plea has gained several thousand dollars thus far, but the struggle is far from over.  (To donate to Ron Plain’s legal defense fund, go here:

Regarding Line 9, the film and each of the speakers explained the many layers of the issue to the eager audience. For one, Line 9 is an aging pipeline, which was not built to carry Tar Sands oil, and this poses a serious threat to the ecosystems, rivers and human communities that it passes through. Keith Stewart reminded listeners of Enbridge’s terrible record on pipeline safety, including the company’s spill of nearly 3 million litres of Tar Sands dilbit into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010, which has cost over $800 million and is still not complete, three years later.

Additionally, pipelines are the arteries that will facilitate expansion of the Tar Sands gigaproject and its associated ecological devastation, which is poisoning downstream Indigenous communities, including Fort Chipewyan. Stewart pointed out that, even in an imaginary world in which Line 9 could be proven to be completely safe (though the hundreds of pipeline spills that Enbridge alone has been responsible for in the past 10 years make this a stretch of the imagination), the project would still be unacceptable because of the fact that the Tar Sands is destroying a landmass the size of the United Kingdom, pushing the planet closer and closer to catastrophic climate change, and violating the Treaty rights of First Nations in Alberta.

Ron Plain brought this point home by describing his visit to For McKay, a First Nation community in Northern Alberta that is downstream from the Tar Sands. He described entering the community hall and seeing dozens of framed portraits lining the walls. These portraits, he was told, were put up in memory of the people who had died in the tiny community—indicating a mortality rate much higher than one would expect anywhere else, thanks to the rampant rates of cancer that are linked to the air and water pollution caused by the Tar Sands. “I was so choked up I couldn’t speak,” said Plain. He asked the crowd to consider that even if there are no Tar Sands oil spills in southern Ontario, how many people will have been killed in Alberta to bring that oil out of the ground? The dangers to Ontario communities, including his own home of Aamjiwnaang First Nation, are real. But Plain insisted, “don’t be selfish”—this is much more than a ‘Not In My Backyard’ issue.

Stewart and Plain both explained the Line 9 pipeline as part of a larger move towards expansion of the Tar Sands, as well as part of a growing resistance to the Tar Sands and pipelines across North America. Stewart reminded the audience that mass resistance has been stopping both the Keystone XL pipeline to Texas, and the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline through British Columbia. “It’s people power against big money. We’re holding them to a draw, and we will win.” As a result, the oil industry and the Canadian government are desperate to get Tar Sands oil to an ocean to export it, and that is why Line 9 has become such a hot issue.

Keith Stewart encouraged audience members to stand against Line 9 by joining the fight to change environmental and social policy of the Canadian government, to end the use of fossil fuels and switch to a green energy economy. “The only way corporations will do the right thing is if they are forced to do so,” said Stewart. In part, he argued, this requires building a movement which challenges mayors, MPs and MPPs that supporting Line 9 will cost them their jobs as ‘representatives,’ as well as working to change environmental policy in Canada so that corporations can no longer use the environment as a dumping ground.

To help build the mass awareness and mobilization required to stop the pipeline, Environmental Defense campaigner Sabrina Bowman encouraged everyone to open up the Line 9 conversation with friends, neighbours, and complete strangers. Her organization will be doing door-to-door canvassing in Toronto on April 20th in Toronto, and folks were encouraged to contact the organization if they’d like to get involved.

As well, members of the panel and audience spoke to the importance of joining in the hearing process of the National Energy Board. Sakura Saunders, a well-known activist and organizer, encouraged people to apply for intervener status in the hearings in order to open the conversation about the dangers of Line 9 to Ontario residents. More details on the NEB hearing process, and the application form to participate, can be found at  Though Steward aptly described the process as “Kafka-esque”—referencing a novel about a show trial where nothing makes sense and a sinister atmosphere prevails—as it requires a 10-page application to even write a Letter of Comment, it is still an extremely important means by which public dissent to Line 9 can be demonstrated.

It’s time for people living near Line 9 to stand up and join in the struggle against Tar Sands and pipelines, and for non-Indigenous people to support Indigenous communities who are demanding the right to free, prior and informed consent over industries that negatively impact their lands. In BC, Indigenous peoples are leading the fight against the Northern Gateway pipeline’s threat to their land base and treaty rights, with non-Indigenous people standing in solidarity with them. In the face of this united front, even the Financial Post declared the Northern Gateway pipeline “dead.” It’s time for Ontario residents to do the same to Line 9.