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How a conservative U.S. network undermined Indigenous energy rights in Canada

Internal documents explain why oil and gas interests would benefit from a key Indigenous declaration being ‘defeated’

A protestor speaks near a Wet'suwet'en sign in Vancouver on November 21, 2021, as climate protestors block traffic during a Vancouver Canucks game. Liam Hill-Allan/Shutterstock By Geoff Dembicki for Floodlight, The Narwhal and the Guardian

A U.S.-based libertarian coalition has spent years pressuring the Canadian government to limit how much Indigenous communities can push back on energy development on their own land, newly reviewed strategy documents reveal.

The Atlas Network partnered with an Ottawa-based think tank — the Macdonald-Laurier Institute — which enlisted pro-industry Indigenous representatives in its campaign to provide “a shield against opponents.”

Atlas, which has deep ties to conservative politicians and oil and gas producers, claimed success in reports in 2018 and 2020, arguing its partner was able to discourage the Canadian government from supporting a United Nations declaration that would ensure greater involvement by Indigenous communities.

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