Anishinabek Territory – On May 2, 2023, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) urged Canada and the United States to decommission the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline.
The Final Report of the UNPFII’s annual session, released last week, recognized that the pipeline poses a threat to the Great Lakes and Indigenous fishing rights in the US and Canada. The UNPFII recommended that Canada reconsider its support for the pipeline and that Line 5 be shut down.
Representatives from a mixed coalition of Anishinaabe leaders and environmental advocates attended the forum to raise awareness of Line 5 as an Indigenous and Human Rights issue. The pipeline, which carries crude oil through the world’s largest freshwater system, is past its 50-year lifespan and poses significant ecological risks to Indigenous territories.
“We are the people of the Great Lakes, and there has never been such a united call for Canada and the United States to abandon failing fossil fuel infrastructure to protect our land and water,” says Bay Mills Indian Community Ogimaakwe (President) Whitney Gravelle.
Tribal and First Nations leaders hope to engage in further discussions with both Canada and the United States to address the issues raised in the report collaboratively. Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe states that the decision to bring this matter to the UNPFII reflects the Anishinabek Nation’s commitment to holding Canada accountable as a member of the global community.
The Anishinabek Nation and Bay Mills Indian Community believe that protecting the environment and the rights of Indigenous Peoples should be a top priority for both governments. The UNPFII’s recommendations serve as a reminder of the need for collaboration to safeguard the planet and ensure a sustainable future for all.
This advocacy at the forum followed a submission focused on Line 5 by representatives of 51 Tribal and First Nations to Canada’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council. The submission highlighted how Canada’s support for Line 5 violates its human rights obligations and called on Canada to respect and protect the human rights of affected First Nations by reversing course.