Water Protectors And the Great Lakes to be highlighted at UN COP 15 in Montreal; International Water Protectors headed to Canada

December 2, 2022

By Barbara With

Sierra Club Canada has been chosen to present before the United Nations Council of the Parties on Biodiversity (COP 15) taking place in Montreal December 7-19, 2022.

The presentation will focus on the Great Lakes and the immense risk that pipelines, oil spills, and climate change pose to 84% of North America’s surface fresh water. Specifically, troubled Enbridge Line 5, running from Superior Wisconsin to Sarnia, Canada poses an imminent threat to the biodiversity of the entire Great Lakes system.

Presentation to the Council will take place December 17. Speakers will include:

Tessine Murji: Conservation organizer with the Illinois Sierra Club based in Chicago, but originally from Montreal. Manages the federal lobby team to make sure the Illinois delegation is consistently hearing from volunteers on Sierra Club priorities, and that elected officials are living up to their Sierra Club endorsements. Most recently worked on passing the Inflation Reduction Act,  strengthening Environmental Protection Agency Rules, and enforcing the Line 5 shut-down order. Written for Canada’s National Observer and La Presse.

Mike Wiggins, Jr.: Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe Tribe, is a life-long resident of northern Wisconsin. Raised on the Bad River Reservation, Mike learned how hunting, fishing and harvesting are essential to the Tribe’s cultural and spiritual traditions and why the Tribe’s ceded territory rights are important to protect for this generation and the next.

Aurora Conley: Anishinaabe from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior who has worked for Tribe since 2012. Associate’s Degree from LCO Community College in Liberal Arts, alumni of the Ashland/Bayfield County Leadership Program, and one of the first certifications in National Tribal Advocacy in 2015.

Beth Wallace: Great Lakes Freshwater Campaign Manager for the National Wildlife Federation. Beth provided watchdog response to the 2010 Enbridge Kalamazoo River oil spill and testified before Congress and the National Academy of Sciences around pipeline safety, wildlife impacts and spill response failures. Co-authored the report Sunken Hazard: Aging oil pipelines beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Michelle Woodhouse: Program manager of freshwater protections and the Great Lakes at Environmental Defence Canada and a Métis water protector. Sought out solutions for a Line 5 closure and helped to have an analysis produced which examined the economic impacts of a Line 5 shutdown and the alternatives available. Continues to seek productive dialogue with elected officials within Canada about why the Great Lakes and climate change must come before Canada’s fossil fuel economy.

Dr. Don Waller: Teacher of ecology, evolution, and conservation biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison retiring as the J.T. Curtis Professor of Botany and Environmental Studies. Co-author of Wild Forests: Conservation Biology and Public Policy and editor of The Vanishing Present: Shifts in Wisconsin’s lands, waters, and wildlife, a science advisor to the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Superior Bio-Conservancy. Served as President of the Society for the Study of Evolution, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was awarded a Palme Academique by the French Ministry of Education. Waller’s papers are available via this ResearchGate link.

Carley Dove-McFalls: Graduate of McGill University (Honours B. A. & B. Sc. in Sustainability, Science and Society) and climate justice activist in the Tio:tia’ke – Mooniyang – Montreal community. Worked on campaigns fighting for divestment, for democratization of the university, for concrete action items tied to decolonization, and for the closure of Line 5. Past research has focused on the relationship between education and perceptions of climate change.

While activities going on inside COP 15 are not open to the public, on December 9-10, Greenpeace Quebec and several other Canada environmental groups will be hosting a March and Teach In.

March for Biodiversity and Human Rights
We are one with nature, protect human rights
1pm / December 10th / Monument in front of parc Jeanne-Mance

Teach In
Noon – 6 PM/ December 11th / 3714 avenue du parc, Montréal, Québec H2X 2J1

Speakers at the Teach In will include Ron Turney, member of independent volunteer citizen monitors Waadookawaad Amikwag (Those Who Help Beaver) presenting evidence collected of the ecological devastation caused by construction of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline through northern Minnesota. Harms have been discovered well beyond those reported by regulatory agencies or the company. They are calling on state, federal and now international agencies to join in adequately monitoring these harms and for the findings to inform the permitting decisions on proposed Enbridge pipeline projects like Line 5.

Line 5 threatens the biodiversity of the entire Great Lakes system affecting both the U.S. and Canada, not just through oil spills, but from construction damage to land and water. The urgency to bring world attention to the crimes against the environment that are taking place in Minnesota is to help stop Line 5, which would be a genocide of the biodiversity on which so many rely on for life every aspect of life.

Sierra Club is offering assistance to those who want to attend the March and Teach In. Click here for more details.

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