Thursday, January 10, 2013


January 10, 2013

Carl Wassilie, Alaska Big Village Network,
Ramsey Hart, MiningWatch Canada,
Chris Zimmer, Rivers Without Borders,

Upstream BC Industrial Development and Gutting of Canadian Environmental Laws Pose Major Threats to Salmon and Clean Water in Alaska

(ANCHORAGE) The Idle No More grassroots protest movement that started in the province of Saskatchewan has stretched across Canada and is now being joined by Alaskans who are concerned about the threats to Alaskan waters and salmon from British Columbia’s (BC) aggressive industrial development plans. Indigenous Peoples and supporters will host an Idle No More rally at Town Square Park downtown Anchorage at noon on Friday, January 11th.

“We would like to show solidarity with our indigenous brothers and sisters in Canada that are facing the same issues our tribal peoples are faced with here in Alaska,” said Delice Calcote of Alaska Inter-Tribal Council. “Our mission is to protect customary and traditional use of our subsistence resources. Protect our subsistence or expect resistance.”

This demonstration is more than just a show of solidarity with Indigenous activists in Canada. Participants are also hoping to raise awareness about the fact that BC’s major industrial development plans and drastic changes to Canadian environmental laws also pose serious risks to salmon, water quality and traditional uses in the Southeast Alaska/Northwest BC transboundary region.

Carl Wassilie of Alaska's Big Village Network said that “Native and non-native Alaskans need to stand up and be counted when it comes to protecting our water, salmon, and indigenous people’s rights. Our representatives are shirking their responsibilities and largely ignoring the threats to our resources from Canada’s massive rush to industrial development in the headwaters of major salmon rivers like the Taku, Stikine and Unuk and weakening of important environmental protection laws. History tells us ignoring this is a bad idea.”

The Idle No More movement was sparked by changes to laws that protected all of Canada’s “navigable” waterways and that govern Indigenous land tenure. Recent changes to the Environmental Assessment Act, Fisheries Act and Navigable Waters Protection Act mean there will be substantially less federal oversight over decisions about major industrial developments, such as the many mines, roads and hydro-electric projects that are proposed on the BC side of the border. Many of these projects would have direct impacts on rivers that provide drinking water and salmon to Alaskans. The most recent changes are but part of a larger pro-industrial development agenda that is being implemented without meaningful consultation with the Indigenous peoples of Canada.

“Federal oversight of mining in Canada hasn’t been perfect, but it has played an important role in reducing risks to the environment,” said Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada. “Recent weakening of environmental regulations is taking us in the wrong direction, which increases the threat that poorly planned and risky projects going forward on a massive scale will pollute Alaskan waters, harm salmon and threaten the livelihoods of Alaskans who depend on these resources. Alaskans have reason to be concerned about what’s proposed in the headwaters of rivers like the Taku, Stikine and Unuk.”

BC mining operations have a history of polluting U.S. waters. For example, acid mine drainage from the Tulsequah Chief mine has been leaking into the Tulsequah and Taku rivers for over 50 years. Pollution from a smelter in Trail, BC ended up in Lake Roosevelt, in the Washington state portion of the Columbia River.

“The BC government and the mining industry have shown little regard for downstream interests in Alaska,” said Chris Zimmer of Rivers Without Borders. "The double whammy of massive industrial development and the gutting of environmental laws is the biggest threat to water quality and salmon in major transboundary wild salmon rivers like the Taku, Stikine and Unuk we have seen in decades. We need our elected leaders to immediately engage with Canada to ensure that Canada’s actions do not harm our interests.”


PRESS ADVISORY: Idle No More Rally, 1/11/13, at noon in 

the Town Square Park, Anchorage, AK
CONTACT:           Kirby Spangler 907-982-0908, or Heather McCausland, 907-232-7345,
Idle No More Movement Catches Fire in Alaska
Alaskan Native Peoples and allies join the Idle No More Movement day of Global Action
Anchorage, AK - Indigenous people and allies from across Alaska will gather in Town Square on Friday in solidarity with the Idle No More Movement for indigenous sovereignty sweeping across Canada and the Globe. Alaska’s Idle No More Event will emphasize the issues that Alaska’s Indigenous Peoples face concerning sovereignty, subsistence rights, environment, health and well-being, culture, and spirituality. This will be a peaceful Rally.  We are drumming, singing, dancing, praying and giving voice to the Spirit of our lands and waters, which need our defense now.
The Idle No More Movement began as a response to a renewed assault on indigenous rights in Canada by the Conservative Government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The movement has forced Harper to meet with a coalition of First Nations leaders, including Atiwapiskat Chief Teresa Spence who has been on hunger strike for nearly a month. Friday’s Rally in Anchorage is part of solidarity actions planned across the globe. (Follow on Twitter #J11)
Supported by REDOIL, Chickaloon Village Traditional Council, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, and Alaska Rising Tide.
 Tentative Schedule: ALASKA IDLE NO MORE RALLY – Noon, Town Square Park, Anchorage, Friday, January 11th
Noon – Opening Traditional Prayer
Chief Lee Stephan- Athabascan, Eklutna (Welcome)
Chief Gary Harrison- Athabascan, Chickaloon (Sovereignty)
Faith Gemmill- Gwich’in- Arctic Village (Vision)
Mae Hank-Inupiat, Point Hope (Chukchi Sea/ Shell)
Rosemary Ahtuangruak-Inupiat, Barrow (Health and Oil)
Allison Akootchook Warden-Inupiat, Kaktovik (Beaufort Sea/ Shell and Arctic Refuge)
Vi Waghiyi-Siberian Yupik, St. Lawrence Island (POPS/ Contaminants/ Toxics/ Military)
Gwich’in Elder or Youth (Arctic Refuge)
Rochelle Adams- Gwich’in, Ft. Yukon (Yukon Flats/language, culture, identity)
Lisa Wade-Athabascan, Chickaloon (Wishbone Hill Coal)
Alannah Hurley-Yupik, Clarks Point (Pebble Mine/BBAY Shell offshore)
Fishermen- Yupik, YK Delta (Subsistence Rights and Salmon issues/Donlin Mine)
Dune Lankard-Eyak, Cordova (Coal/EVOS)
Medicine Dream
Sleeping Lady Drummers
Closing – Participants will dance a round dance to close Rally

Twitter: #J11 and #idlenomore