Bordering on a problem

Bordering on a problem r1 ... BECOME A MEMBER The Narwhal's masthead logo Land defenders fortify a blockade near the Wedzin Kwa (Morice) River as RCMP units advance deeper into Wet’suwet’en territory In early June, Emily Holden, the founder of environmental news collaborative Floodlight, reached out to The Narwhal’s managing editor Mike de Souza.

Floodlight, Emily explained, had uncovered the secret strategy of a U.S. conservative network that has been working for years to undermine Indigenous Rights in Canada. Would The Narwhal want to help bring the story to light? Umm, yes please, Mike responded.

Six weeks on, the investigation by reporter Geoff Dembicki has been published, part of a collaboration between The Narwhal, Floodlight and the Guardian (that little publication).

“There’s a lot of propaganda out there from the oilpatch and some politicians that undermines rules to address the climate crisis,” Mike told me. “Geoff dug up a bunch of documents that reveal the reality of who is behind this.”

Geoff’s piece details how Atlas Network, an organization with links to Charles Koch that has received funding from the likes of ExxonMobil, partnered with an Ottawa-based think tank — the Macdonald-Laurier Institute — to weaken Canada’s plans to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP.
Karla Tait being arrested during Wet'suwet'en raids by RCMP officers.
The two organizations, the Atlas documents show, were worried the declaration would give Indigenous communities more power to push back against oil and gas development on their territories. The Macdonald-Laurier Institute proceeded to seek out pro-industry Indigenous groups to provide “a shield against opponents.” They also received “support” from the federal justice minister at the time, Jody Wilson-Raybould, who once said fully implementing UNDRIP would be “unworkable.”

While Canada has passed UNDRIP legislation, implementation on it has stalled — and groups linked to the Macdonald-Laurier Institute campaign continue to argue that Indigenous prosperity is tied to oil and gas.

“We know the Alberta government spends millions of dollars for its own oil propaganda war room,” Mike added. “So it’s critical that journalists investigate more issues like this one to shine a light on the truth, and The Narwhal will continue to do this at every opportunity.”

Cross-border links have been a bit of a theme on The Narwhal’s virtual pages this past week as Hydro-Québec finds itself battling an unlikely coalition of First Nations, U.S. fossil fuel companies and environmentalists.
Aerial shot of the Romaine-2 hydroelectric facility in Quebec’s Côte-Nord region
The provincially-owned utility signed a contract to transport hydroelectricity to residents in Massachusetts and has already put $500 million into the project. The trouble is, the 233-kilometre-long transmission line would run through the state of Maine, whose residents voted to stop the project in a recent referendum amid concerns about irreparable damage to evergreen forests that are part of the habitat of trout and other wildlife.

The Maine Supreme Court is expected to rule this summer on the legitimacy of the referendum, which saw U.S. natural gas companies pour nearly US$28 million into a bid to quash the Hydro-Québec plan. The utility isn’t having an easy time on this side of the border, either: five Québec First Nations are opposed to the transmission line running through their lands.

Learn all about the complexities in this piece by reporter Caitlin Stall-Paquet. Oh, and did I mention Hydro-Québec’s electricity was also brought up in another fresh story, from The Narwhal’s senior editor Elaine Anselmi, about an old eastern Ontario mine?

Take care and don’t lose your mind in border lines,

Arik Ligeti
Director of audience
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The Narwhal explains: Who suffers the most during a heat wave

The Narwhal on the ‘gram


Have you heard?

Were boosting our Instagram efforts, so one day our stories can be the ones to break the internet. Or, you know, just reach the people they should be reaching.

And while were at it, well be making a bunch of explainers — like the one on the impact of heat waves, or this one on mining in B.C. — all for you to swipe through.

Go check it out!

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