A group of Alberta Indigenous land defenders is rallying support in Edmonton for protesters in Standing Rock, North Dakota.
They refer to themselves as Indigenous land defenders, and water protectors- a group that’s growing in size- and speaking out against the extraction of natural resources on Indigenous land without consent.
“There’s a lot of attention on Standing Rock, as this big thing that’s happening over there,” Indigenous Climate Action volunteer Eriel Deranger said.
“But the reality is, Indigenous resistance, particularly to resource extraction and the development of resources for extraction, oil and gas, fracking, is being done without the consent of indigenous people and indigenous people often times end up being the recipients of the most adverse impacts of these types of projects.”
Deranger was one of several speakers taking part in a discussion at the University of Alberta Saturday regarding what she calls the Indigenous resistance being seen in Standing Rock and other places right across North America including Alberta.
“Indigenous resistance to extraction has been happening for a long time. It’s time we see real change- not just to individual projects but to the systems that have allowed them to happen,” she said.
The panel discussion was part of a series of events held in Edmonton this week raising awareness and funds for the on-going protest in Standing Rock, North Dakota.
Saturday’s event included Indigenous land defenders currently on the front lines in Standing Rock.
Those speaking on behalf of land defenders in Alberta are calling on all forms of government to consider a major overhaul to regulatory processes when it comes to the extraction of natural resources on Indigenous land.
“We are in the process of trying to find ways to address climate change, to find new ways to address energy use and consumption,” Deranger said. “and I think this is a really interesting way for us to address not just that problem but to find ways to include Indigenous people to create a ‘just’ transition for everyone.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline protests began last spring.
The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes are fighting the project because they fear it will harm drinking water and cultural sites. Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners disputes that and says the 1,200-mile pipeline through the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois will be safe.
The pipeline is nearly complete outside of a stretch beneath a Missouri River reservoir in southern North Dakota, just to the north of the Standing Rock reservation.
Land Defenders and Water Protectors have been holding ground at Standing Rock on Lakota and Yanktonai territory in North Dakota after the North Dakota Access Pipeline Company was granted a license agreement to lay a new pipeline in April 2015.
“They are protecting significant land that intersects with local waterways and sacred sites and have been successful in interrupting a leg of the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure that is destroying the planet,” Deranger said.
A Stand with Standing Rock benefit show will be held Sunday at 5 p.m. At the Buckingham on Whyte Avenue. All proceeds will go towards supporting protesters in North Dakota.