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9 October 2015


NEB Must Understand Aboriginal Elders 27 November 15

The National Energy Board (NEB) has invited aboriginal elders - knowledge-keepers - to give oral evidence about how Enbridge's proposed pipeline replacement through southwest Manitoba will affect First Nations. However, the Elders have been told to not include scientific or technical realm in what they share as evidence. This is a problem -so much so that the Elders have said no thanks to the National Energy Board's invitation.

The problem stems from how out of touch the NEB is with the legal weight traditional knowledge actually carries, specifically oral traditional evidence.

Aboriginal Traditional oral evidence coming from ancient cultural roots and experience, an interconnected wisdom and expertise gained from millennia of living on and with the land, is as 'scientific' as it is spiritual. The traditional scientific and spiritual knowledge are indivisible in the case of traditional knowledge.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has formally objected to the NEB definition of traditional knowledge. The pivotal issue is Canada claiming jurisdiction over First Nation territory, arbitrarily issuing rights to third-party interests on top of First Nations rights.

It is time the NEB and Canada listen to the First Nation Elders and Knowledge Keepers who know the land and who can speak to the rights of their Nations. No third party industry can claim jurisdiction or priority in Canada over First Nation rights. The current situation in Canada with the resource industry is like 'borrowing' your sisters bike then renting it out to the highest bidder – even if they destroy the bike, and never compensating your sister for wrecking her bike.

NEB hearings for Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Program in Winnipeg start November 30, 2015.

View November 28, 2015 Manitoba Elders event invitation
View November 25, 2015 Aboriginal Business Magazine article
View November 23, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article
View October 27, 2015 Calgary Herald article
View November 2, 2014 North Shore News article

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Protect Parks From Mining 27 November 15

The Manitoba government has released a management plan for Nopiming Provincial Park for public review. There is no increase in protected lands in the plan, despite only 19% of the park being protected.

Manitoba’s new protected areas strategy focuses on small ecological reserves and wildlife management areas (WMAs). It is unclear if the Manitoba government will act to protect parks and large regions of Manitoba’s boreal forest as it has been promising for years.

Old provincial parks in Manitoba were often established over old mining and logging areas, where industrial roads allowed access to beautiful landscapes filled with clear lakes and forested ridges.

These same mining areas have been subject to mining exploration for decades. More recently a new mine opened in Clearwater Lake Provincial Park.

Provincial parks under the new Manitoba Parks Act are to provide protection of natural lands and waters and the quality of life for Manitobans. Parks preserve biological diversity. And biodiversity in protected and fully functioning natural ecosystems mitigates our climate, provide fresh water and clean our air.

The Manitoba government still allows mining companies to claim land in provincial parks. There are over 750 claims in 13 of Manitoba's provincial parks, including Whiteshell, Nopiming, and Grass River. Forestry options have been removed from most park lands.

View November 26, 2015 Manitoba Government news release
View November 24, 2015 Winnipeg Sun article
View November 24, 2015 Wilderness Committee article
View October 21, 2015 CBC News article
View August 27, 2015 Winnipeg Sun article
View Manitoba Wildlands Protected Areas page

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Banning Paris Climate Marches Bans Public Voice 27 November 15

The governments of more than 190 nations are gathering in Paris to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change, aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and thus avoiding the threat of dangerous climate change.

Major marches planned for COP21 international climate talks in Paris will not be authorised for security reasons, the French government said. Environmental activists - who expected attract hundreds of thousands people on 29 November and 12 December - said that they accepted the decision with regret, but were now considering "new and imaginative" ways of making their voices heard.

Civil society organizations and world citizens wished to march in solidarity with Parisians, for peace, and for climate action.

The French government's decision reflects very limited values and priorities regarding who and what will get full security protection. Yes to world leaders industry heads and bankers, football matches and Christmas markets; no to climate marches and protests. No matter that the climate negotiations affect billions of lives based on current levels of emission and impacts from climate change.

Climate change is a moral crisis of the highest order. Every time governments of wealthy nations fail to act, they say that we, the rich developed nations, are putting our immediate comfort and economic security ahead of the poorest and most vulnerable people on Earth. To ban public protests in the most important and visible spaces where the voices of those affected by climate change would be heard is a dramatic expression of this ethic abuse of power.

Silencing the voices of those whose voices matter most including those impacted the most by climate change - is in itself a display of violence. It is a form of cultural violence used by the rich and powerful to maintain the security of the rich and powerful. It keeps the decision makers isolated and out of touch from the reality faced by the billions who are directly affected by climate change.

View November 20, 2015 The Guardian article
View November 20, 2015 The Guardian article
View November 19, 2015 The Guardian article
View May 21, 2015 The Washington Post article
View February 5, 2015 Truthout article
View October 2, 2014 TomDispatch article
View February 2, 2014 TomDispatch article

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Alberta Climate Leadership Plan - Pre Paris 27 November 15

The Canadian province of Alberta, processor of the dirtiest source of oil on the planet - the tar sands - has proposed its new climate change plan.

"This is the day that we start to mobilize capital and resources to create green jobs, green energy, green infrastructure and a strong, environmentally responsible, sustainable and visionary Alberta energy industry with a great future," Premier Rachel Notley said. "This is the day we stop denying there is an issue, and this is the day we do our part."

"This is the day that we start to mobilize capital and resources to create green jobs, green energy, green infrastructure and a strong, environmentally responsible, sustainable and visionary Alberta energy industry with a great future," Premier Rachel Notley said. "This is the day we stop denying there is an issue, and this is the day we do our part."

Alberta will cap oil-sands emissions that will phase out coal power plants and implement an economy-wide price for carbon in an effort to curb pollution from Canada’s largest greenhouse-gas emitter.

The oil-sands industry will face a limit of 100 megatons of carbon emissions a year, above current annual emissions of about 70 megatons. The province will phase out coal power plants by 2030 and set a carbon price of C$20 ($15) a metric ton by 2017, rising to C$30 in 2018.

View November 25, 2015 Huffington Post article
View November 23, 2015 DeSmog Canada article
View November 23, 2015 Reuters Canada article
View November 22, 2015 Financial Post article
View November 22, 2015 Bloomberg Business article
View November 20, 2015 Alberta Government report

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Protect Nopiming From Mining 30 October 15

The Wilderness Committee produced a document called A Greenprint for Nopiming Provincial Park last fall, when the Manitoba government asked for public comment before producing a management plan for the park.

In October 2015, the Manitoba government released its Draft Management Plan for Nopiming Provincial Park, and there was some good news. The province is looking at expanding protected areas in the park, safeguarding moose and woodland caribou, and better protecting rivers. However, these are things you would expect to happen. Nothing new really.

The biggest threat to Nopiming is mining activity. You can read more about mining in Manitoba parks in the Wilderness Committee report. Mining is destructive and has no place in a park. The Manitoba government still has not acted on what it said it would do.

Military exercises should not be conducted in the park, yet the southern region of the park definitely shows impacts of military activity, on virtually every lake shore. The Manitoba government has stated they will make these exercises less of an impact on the park, yet again they have not acted.

The time for words is long past. When will the Manitoba government make good on all of their promises for parks and protected areas.

Watch October 21, 2015 CBC News video
View October 21, 2015 Wilderness Committee article
View October 16, 2015 Wilderness Committee blog post
View October 15, 2015 Manitoba Government news release
View Wilderness Committee report

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Canada Still Needs To Tackle Climate Change 24 October 15

Stephen Harper is no longer the Prime Minister of Canada. After nearly a decade in power, Harper left Canada devastated when it comes to climate change. Canada is one of the highest per-capita polluters on the planet. Our Northern country will experience climate impacts and increased temperatures above averages predicted. In Harper’s wake we have a dismantled environmental regulatory system, maintains an embarrassing relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples, and allow a largely unregulated and heavily subsidized oil industry that is producing the dirtiest fuel on the planet.

The Liberal party promises to establish new, credible reviews for proposed development that are comprehensive, consider full and cumulative impacts, including upstream impacts like development in the oil sands, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. The question is what happens to the various energy projects currently under review in hearings across Canada.

Justin Trudeau promised to attend climate negotiations in Paris – COP 21 - with all of the provincial premiers and to work with the provinces on emissions reduction plans. The Liberals have also promised to work with other countries like Mexico and the U.S. in developing shared clean energy plans.

Climate Action is needed now and the time for action was ten years ago. Canada will test Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party’s commitment and resolve to honour all of their promises.

View Liberal Party Election Platform
View October 22, 2015 Montreal Gazette article
View October 21, 2015 Ecologist article
View October 20, 2015 Huffington Post article
View June 29, 2015 CBC News article
Visit Climate Welcome website

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New Direction For Canada With Justin Trudeau? 24 October 15

Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada won a majority government in the federal election. The Liberal Party of Canada dethroned the Conservatives in the federal election, held this past Monday, October 19. The Liberals, won with a promise of change.

During the campaign, the Liberals released an 88-page plan to boost support for post-secondary students, clean up the environment, and lower the tax burden for middle-class families. He also pledged to run three years of deficits to invest in infrastructure and bolster the economy.

Alex Marland, a political scientist at Memorial University in St. John's, said this election was driven by personality politics and the "celebritization" of leaders over more substantive issues.

"Despite the campaign's extraordinary length, we heard relatively little about the finer details of political parties' platforms, or about their potential cabinet members or candidates," he said.

The Liberal Party’s campaign platform comes with a long list of promises that they should have a relatively easy time turning into legislation with their majority. It might take a while to reverse almost 10 years of economic and regulatory change brought in by the Harper Conservatives. Justin Trudeau will be in the spotlight as Canadians and the world wait to find out if he will make good on his promises.

View Liberal Election Platform
View October 21, 2015 The Star article
View October 21, 2015 Canada Immigration Newsletter article
View October 20, 2015 CBC News article
View October 20, 2015 CBC News article

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Hydro's Methane Bomb 17 October 15

Hydroelectric dams constructions around the world is surging dramatically, guided by a false premise that dams produce clean energy, while study after study refutes this claim.

The principal environmental risk of hydroelectric dams is organic material—vegetation, sediment and soil—that flows from rivers into reservoirs and decomposes, emitting methane and carbon dioxide into the water and the air. Recent research identified increased risks from methane emissions.

Organic material—vegetation, sediment and soil—flows from rivers into reservoirs and decomposes emitting methane and carbon dioxide into the water and then the air throughout the hydro-electric generation cycle. Studies indicate that where organic material is the highest, hydro-electric dams can actually emit more greenhouse gases than coal-fired power plants.

Large dams contain enormous amounts of cement, which during the construction process uses massive amounts of energy that emits greenhouse gas emissions.

A 2011 study published in the science journal Science found that the "ability of terrestrial ecosystems to act as carbon sinks," could be one quarter less than previously thought.

Clearly, carbon and methane emissions from hydro dams is a concern - particularly with so many mega-dams being constructed around the world. More study is needed to determine full carbon and methane emissions from hydro dams and spillways in order to properly include them in climate change discussions.

View October 6, 2015 EcoWatch article
View October 29, 2014 Discovery News article
View October 29, 2014 Climate Central article
View July 31, 2013 Watts Up With That blog post
View February 5, 2010 Scientific American article
View February 24, 2005 New Scientist article

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Vote For the Environment 17 October 15

Environmental Defence and Equiterre released a summary, of the five major federal parties' positions on environmental issues, including climate change and the upcoming Paris climate negotiations, tar sands and the Energy East pipeline as well as renewable energy, public transit and the electrification of transportation.

Weakening of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act means approximately 90 per cent of major industry projects that would have undergone a federal review no longer will, according to the report.

West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL) and Quebec Environmental Centre did an analysis of all the policy and laws that have been re-written since the Harper government came to power.

Karine Peloffy, director general of the Quebec Environmental Law Centre, said Canada's environmental legislation is intrinsically tied into the fabric of the country's democracy.

"Our waters, species, and our very democracy have been put at risk by changes made to our environmental laws since 2011," Peloffy said.

"When these legal changes were first brought in, we could only speculate about the impacts they would have on Canadians and the environment. Unfortunately, our analysis indicates that our fears have been borne out on the ground."

'Canadian federal legislative changes over the past four years reveals a systemic dismantling of Canada's environmental laws. Since 2012 the federal Harper government has weakened or repealed many of Canada's oldest and most important environmental laws at industry's request, putting Canada's environment, communities and democracy at risk.' - from the introduction to Canada's Track Record on Environmental Laws 2011-2015 released by WCEL.

Manitoba Wildlands will be watching to see reversal of many environment law changes. We all need to consider what new Environment Laws and protection are needed.

View West Coast Environmental Law & Équiterre's Report
View David Suzuki Foundation Election Environmental Cheat Sheet
View Environmental Laws Matter Vote Environment page
View October 1, 2015 Équiterre article

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Manitoba Woodland Caribou Strategy 17 October 15

The Manitoba government has developed a 10-year Boreal Woodland Caribou Recovery Strategy. The two key goals of the Boreal Woodland Caribou Strategy are to maintain self-sustaining local populations of boreal caribou and ensure the effective management and protection of their habitat, the minister said.

Boreal caribou were listed as threatened in Manitoba in 2006 under the Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act. To date industry and Manitoba Hydro have not been required to avoid woodland caribou habitat when expanding operations. No fines or charges under the Act for impacts on habitat have occurred since 2006.

Wildlife biologists estimate there are 1,500 to 3,100 woodland caribou roaming Manitoba's forests in no fewer than 15 overlapping population clumps known as ranges, scattered across a broad swath of the province from the Churchill River in the northwest to Nopiming Provincial Park in the southeast.

View October 16, 2015 Wilderness Committee article
View October 15, 2015 CBC News article
View October 15, 2015 Manitoba Government news release
View October 15, 2015 Winnipeg Sun article
View October 15, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article

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Lake Winnipeg Report Still Not Public 9 October 15

Manitoba's Clean Environment Commission (CEC) held public hearings in communities and downtown Winnipeg, starting December 2014, to assess the effects of regulation of Lake Winnipeg as a reservoir to serve Manitoba Hydro's system across northern Manitoba. The question put to them was whether to issue a final licence for regulation of the lake, on the same terms as the forty year old interim licence.

As of October 9, 2015 no one knows the status of the CEC report on Lake Winnipeg Regulation. Exhaustive hearings were held, after a forty year period with no public review and no environmental assessment of regulation of Lake Winnipeg, and Manitobans still do not know the results or recommendations.

The results of both Aboriginal Section 35 consultations and the CEC hearings must be in the Minister's hands before a decision about the requested final licence for regulation of Lake Winnipeg can be made. The CEC report is now well past the prescribed timeline in the Environment Act.

Manitoba Wildlands, a participant in the hearings, is concerned the Manitoba government may not realize how important this CEC set of recommendations is for the future of the Lake, and the communities around the lake. Many Manitobans are waiting for this CEC report. We expect it to be released very soon.

View Clean Environment Commission Lake Winnipeg Regulation hearings
View Manitoba Hydro Lake Winnipeg Regulation page
View Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Lake Winnipeg regulation page
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Lake Winnipeg page

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What About First Nations Heritage Plants and Medicines? 9 October 15

Manitoba partnered with the Manitoba Forestry Association (MFA) and Trees Winnipeg to create the first provincial Heritage Trees Program in Canada, and has officially designated three Manitoba trees as heritage trees, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Tom Nevakshonoff announced October 1, 2015.

"Special trees deserve recognition so they can be protected, especially if they have played an important role in Manitoba history or have unique characteristics," said Minister Nevakshonoff. "This program will help ensure these trees are protected and their histories are shared with locals and visitors alike."

If it is so easy to protect trees that have had an important role in the history of Manitoba, lets then protect the plants and medicines the original inhabitants of Manitoba have used for thousands of years? Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge studies have been done in enough communities in Manitoba. It would be easy to identify medicines and plants used by First Nations and recognise quite a few more Heritage Plants.

The announcement by Minister Nevakshonoff is profoundly lacking in understanding of the relevance of heritage plants in Manitoba. With so many First Nations in Manitoba it would make better sense to protect First Nation medicines as heritage plants that have truly played an important role in the history of the land. This would reflect a more conscious respect for the land and its inhabitants, some of whom have been here for thousands and thousands of years.

At best the announcement by the Manitoba Government and Minister Nevakshonoff is condescending. He needs to commit to protection of traditional medicine plants right away.

View October 1, 2015 Manitoba Government news release
View February 14, 2015 WC Native News article
View March 19, 2003 National Aboriginal Health Organization report
View 2013 First Nations Perspectives article
View Assembly of First Nations Honouring Earth page

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