By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
The chief of Canada’s highest oil producing First Nation has requested an audience with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries during the oil-cartel’s meeting in Austria next month.
Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Wallace Fox has written the Abdalla Salem El-Badri Badri, the secretary general of the OPEC Secretariat asking First Nations chiefs be allowed to make a presentation before the member countries.
Onion Lake, which sits in Saskatchewan, produces 20,000 barrels of oil a day on its territory.
“The chiefs will provide information that oil from Canada and sold to the United States is not conflict free. The environmental devastation in the tar sands encompasses an area the size of France. The environmental devastation is a violation of the human rights of Indigenous peoples,” wrote Fox, in the letter dated Nov. 17. “All oil sold by Canada to the United States is without payment to the Indigenous peoples.”
Canada sends about 2.5 million barrels of oil a day to the U.S.
The next OPEC meeting is scheduled for Dec. 12 in Vienna, Austria. There are currently 12 member nations of OPEC and the cartel exerts considerable influence over the price of oil in its decisions to increase or decrease oil production.
OPEC member countries include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, Venezuela, Qatar, Nigeria, Algeria, Angola, Libya, the United Arab Emirates and Ecuador.
Fox said other First Nations with oil on their territory have also indicated an interest in attending the Vienna meeting and are waiting to see if Onion Lake gets a positive response before fully committing to attend.
Fox said Onion Lake is a “sovereign entity” seeking to attract political support and investment from OPEC-member countries and sever all dependency on Ottawa.
“OPEC countries have a lot of wealth,” said Fox. “Onion Lake has always thought outside the box.”
Fox said his Onion Lake have already developed ties to Asia and Europe.
“We are exploring all avenues for creating additional investment,” he said.
The bid by First Nations chiefs to address the OPEC nation already has the backing of Iran, according to former Manitoba chief Terry Nelson who recently travelled to Tehran.
The Iranian government also mentioned OPEC in a statement jointly issued with Nelson at the close of his trip.
“We call upon the government of Canada to consider the experiences of other countries regarding fair distribution of the natural resources’ income,” said the statement. “The OPEC nations have had a similar history in dealing with colonial powers.”