Award-winning Investigative Journalist Robert Parry (1949-2018)

Award-winning investigative journalist and founder/editor of, Robert Parry has passed away. His ground-breaking work uncovering Reagan-era dirty wars in Central America and many other illegal and immoral policies conducted by successive administrations and U.S. intelligence agencies, stands as an inspiration to all in journalists working in the public interest.

Robert had been a regular guest on our Between The Lines and Counterpoint radio shows -- and many other progressive outlets across the U.S. over four decades.

His penetrating analysis of U.S. foreign policy and international conflicts will be sorely missed, and not easily replaced. His son Nat Parry writes a tribute to his father: Robert Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews.

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JEREMY SCAHILL: Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker "Dirty Wars"

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Tar Sands Opponents Form Cross-Border Alliance to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline

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Posted Feb. 27, 2013

Excerpt of speech by Jackie Thomas, chief of Saik'uz First Nation in Canada, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus at the Feb. 17, 2013 Keystone Pipeline rally in Washington, D.C.


Leaders of native nations in both Canada and Oklahoma were among the speakers at the “Forward on Climate” rally in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 17, which saw an estimated 35,000 to nearly 50,000 people supporting the demand that President Obama deny a federal permit for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would transport dirty tar sands from Alberta, Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, mostly for export.

The southern leg of the pipeline, already under construction in Texas, has generated powerful local opposition through groups such as the Tar Sands Blockade. Tar sands have a much bigger carbon footprint than other fossil fuels. Groups like the Sierra Club and, main sponsors of the Washington protest rally, have been calling on Obama to live up to his post-election pledges to tackle climate change and nix this project.

One of the native leaders who spoke at the rally was Jackie Thomas, a chief of the Saik'uz First Nation in northern British Columbia. She is a co-leader of the Yinka-Dene Alliance, a coalition of first nations and others working to stop the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline from taking tar sands from Alberta through British Columbia to the Pacific Ocean for export. In this excerpt from her talk, she addresses the problems tar sands extraction has already caused and about the alliances that are growing in Canada and the U.S. to stop the tar sands pipeline projects.

JACKIE THOMAS: I am a mother of four, and a grandmother of one, and I was raised by my own grandmother. She was a traditional medicine woman of my people, and I learned early on the value of our environment. And what she told us is that when we take care of the land, the land will take care of us. If we destroy this land, we will destroy ourselves. I speak on behalf of the Yinka Dene Alliance. We formed an alliance to stop the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, which plans to bring tar sands oil to the coast of British Columbia, which will then be put on tankers to go to the Asian markets. It puts at risk my neighbors to the east of me, that live at the tar sands. The government doesn't recognize these people, and these people have been dying of mysterious cancers, their water is polluted, their animals are sick, and Mother Earth is sick. Our Alliance is using our own laws to protect our lands, and for centuries we have done this. We created the Save the Fraser Declaration. Currently we have 135 First Nations in Canada signed up to this. We have built alliances and will be signing international documents with other nations of the indigenous world in the future. We have also been endorsed by many municipalities in Canada,most recently, the city of Vancouver, Mayor Gregor Robertson, made a proclamation that Dec. 13, 2012, was Save the Fraser Declaration Day for the city of Vancouver. This was very brave, because my government -- the Canadian government -- has been calling me an environmental extremist, a radical and an enemy of Canada. All I want, and my people want to do, is protect this land, and this water, that is sacred. This water that we're talking about has no color, this water that we're talking about is not just water for my own people. It is water also for my neighbor ranchers, my neighbor farmers, who live next door to me. It's a human issue, and it impacts everyone. We are all connected. Enbridge really has brought our communities together in Canada, because we've had oil spills and you've also had oil spills in this country, because oil will spill, it's just a matter of when. They've spilled in the Kalamazoo, in Red Deer, Alberta, in the territories of the Lubicon Cree, in the Northwest Territories, the Dene brothers and sisters I know from the Northwest Territories, and of course, who can forget Exxon Valdez. Of course also, in most recent memory we've had the BP spill, which was on the news day after day, month after month. Never in my life have I ever seen white and native work together until now. Thank you, Enbridge, for doing this work for me. (laughter).

In Canada, First Nations are always expected to be the sacrificial lambs for our government in terms of the economy -- like the economy is a human being, like the economy is more important than our land and our water. Water is a non-renewable resource, and we can't take it for granted. The Yinka Dene Alliance have never signed a treaty; we have never gone to war; we have never ceded our territories in British Columbia, and we never will. Under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the Yinka Dene Alliance have not given our free, prior and informed consent to this project. In Canada there's a judicial review process going on right now. While the process is still underway our government has made public statements to the effect that this project will go through. Over the past year my country has made changes to environmental laws that has eased the burden for industry to [in]discriminately go forward with these projects, and part of our Idle No More movement also has been to let the general public know that we cannot keep taking out of greed; we should only take out of need.

I'm here to ask you and to ask the world to help us. The Canadian government has made it clear they will approve Enbridge. We need your help to stand with us. We need your prayers. I need someone to stand with me as the bulldozers come. I'm laying down my life. (cheers)

This segment was recorded and produced by Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus. Learn more about the issues related to tar sands extraction and the Keystone XL pipeline by visiting and the other links to articles and websites below.

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