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    June 16, 2010

    More than 2,600 oil and gas wells have been drilled on Lubicon Cree land in northern Alberta, Canada. this intensive development has taken place against the wishes of the Lubicon people and has had tragic consequences for their society and livelihoods. there are fears that even more destructive forms of extraction are planned for the future.

    The land is crucial to the Lubicon culture and economy. Before large-scale oil and gas development began, the Lubicon Cree were largely self-sufficient, relying on hunting, trapping, fishing and other traditional land uses to meet most of their needs. The environmental impact of oil and gas development has made these activities almost impossible, plunging the Lubicon Cree into poverty.
     

    June 21, 2009

    The Indigenous community of Grassy Narrows in north-western Ontario, Canada, has experienced decades of  suffering and dislocation. This has included, among other violations of their rights, flooding of their traditional territory leading to the loss of wild rice crops, wildlife habitat and heritage sites; relocation of the community; mercury contamination of the river system; and, most recently, large-scale logging throughout much of their homeland.

    There are more than 1,200 registered members of the Asubpeeshoseewagong Netum Anishinaabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation). Like many First Nations’ reserves across Canada, Grassy Narrows faces high unemployment (as high as 80 or 90 per cent), poor and overcrowded housing, and other inadequate and underfunded services and community infrastructure. In stark contrast to the standard of living enjoyed by most Canadians, many of the people of Grassy Narrows live in conditions of extreme poverty and poor health.

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    Governments across the Americas continue to discriminate against Indigenous peoples by denying their right to have a say on decisions which may have devastating consequences for their cultural survival. Motorways, pipelines, hydroelectric dams and open-cast mines are some of the development projects which governments continue to carry out on or near Indigenous territories without obtaining their free, prior and informed consent.

    The right to consultation, as established in various international human rights standards, is key for Indigenous peoples. They have a special relationship with their territory and environment and their cultural survival depends on it. As Eriberto Gualinga from the Sarayaku Indigenous community in Ecuador has put it “for us, the rainforest is life. It gives us our identity as an Indigenous people. Our life as a people depends on our natural environment.” The following is a summary of some of the serious challenges that Indigenous peoples face on a daily basis as they claim the right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent.
     

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