Recent activities in Seattle and LA and over 2000 letters sent to Quadrant CEO Peter Orser are begining to make an impact. Last week, the company issued emails signed by Mr. Orser (download a copy here).
While it’s good that he took the time to respond, he misses the central point–that Quadrant shares a responsibility to respect indigenous rights. His only real response is that “Weyerhaeuser believes issues related to treaty rights or co-management of resources must be addressed at a government-to-government level…” Essentially, says Orser, ‘this isn’t our responsibility’.
In fact, Grassy Narrows has been seeking to address its concerns at a government-to-government level for more than three decades to no tangible result and in spite of obligations imposed on provincial and federal authorities by Canadian Courts and censure from the United Nations. The summary response from government is essentially ‘this isn’t our responsibility’.
Our position? It’s time to stop buck-passing and get on with business. Weyerhaeuser, Quadrant and everyone else profiting from resource extraction on aboriginal lands share a responsibility to ensure the free, prior and informed consent from the communities in which they opperate.
And we’re not alone. In June, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to approve the Declaration on Human Rights. Now the Declaration needs to be adopted by the UN General Assembly. The Declaration states in part that
Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands, territories and other resources, including the right to require that States obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands, territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.
Significantly, Canada voted against the deal–a move that drew international criticism. Even the stalwart free-marketeers over at The Economist recognize what the magazine recently called the “failure of Canada’s policies towards its aboriginal people”.
So, if haven’t yet, consider responding to Mr. Orser about what he calls his “full support of the steps that Weyerhaeuser has taken to resolve these issues.”