Indigenous Leaders to Canadian Consulate: “Be Brave,” Retire Line 5

Media Release: For Immediate Release: Monday, June 17, 2024

News from: Cross-Border Organizing Working Group of Line 5 Coalition [posted on their behalf].

Minnesota and Wisconsin residents calling on Canada to retire the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline rally outside the Canadian consulate office.MINNEAPOLIS, MN – On Friday afternoon, about 40 Minnesota and Wisconsin residents opposed to the Enbridge Line 5 crude oil pipeline rallied outside the Canadian consulate office in downtown Minneapolis.

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A smaller delegation including Bad River Band members met with Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service Consul Colin McLeod. Attendees called on Canadian officials to drop their invocation of the 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty, which promotes the free flow of oil across the international border, as it is predated by treaties between the U.S. government and Anishinaabe people that protect tribal members’ access to clean water.

“Enbridge continues their unjust enrichment to the detriment of our lives,” said Bad River tribal elder Joe Bates. “The treaty of 1854 came 123 years before the 1977 pipeline treaty. It is time to uphold the treaty of 1854, which guarantees us a permanent homeland, without threat of forced removal, not Enbridge.”

Line 5 is a petroleum pipeline running from Superior, Wis. to Sarnia, Ontario, carrying mostly Canadian crude oil. Since 2013 when a land lease expired, the pipeline has been trespassing illegally across the Bad River reservation. Enbridge seeks to build a new, longer route that skirts the reservation boundaries but still traverses the treaty-protected Bad River watershed, a proposal that represents an unacceptable level of risk for the Band. Given the water-rich terrain, portions of the route would be constructed with horizontal directional drilling (HDD) techniques similar to those used on the Line 3 pipeline in 2021 that left lasting aquifer damage in Minnesota.

“Enbridge came through Minnesota back in 2021,” said Dawn Goodwin from Bagley, MN, R.I.S.E. Coalition co-founder, representative of Indigenous Environmental Network, and Anishinaabe from White Earth and the 1855 Treaty Territory. “They did it as fast as they could. There were four reported frac-outs and 26 areas of concern. It changed our water and our ecology in that area forever along the route.”

The documents delivered to the Consulate included a cover letter, a letter in solidarity with a Line 5 shutdown from 37 Canadian organizations, a letter signed by 5,000 individuals and 300 organizations to Canadian ministers directing them to stop misusing the 1977 Treaty, the petition delivered to the House of Commons in Canada’s Parliament, a rebuttal to the Canadian government’s response to this petition, and an ultimatum regarding Line 9, the pipeline downstream from Line 3 through Line 5.

Crude oil pipeline projects have drawn extensive public interest and opposition in recent years. Thousands of people from around the country engaged in protests against the Line 3 pipeline through northern Minnesota, and a recent documentary covering the Bad River Band’s resistance to extractive industry was shown for an extended run in AMC theaters due to demand. Line 9 in Canada, which takes its oil from Line 5, is also seeing a growing opposition effort. Friday’s rally at the Canadian consulate in Minneapolis is part of a series of rallies at Canadian consulates across the Midwest in solidarity with Line 5 and Line 9 organizers.

“I told Colin McLeod, ‘Be bold, be brave because now is the time.’ We are in climate emergency,” said Goodwin. “What can you do to help protect the water, the lands, the air, and the future for the next 7 generations, for the young people? That’s what this is about, is to have a better future for the young people”.


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The Cross-Border Organizing Working Group of the Line 5 Coalition, which convened Friday’s rally, is an international group of Indigenous leaders and activists working to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5.

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