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More than 100 Arrested at Anti-Keystone Protest in Ottawa

Hundreds of First Nations and environmentalists protested against the Alberta Oil Sands and the Keystone XL pipeline in Ottawa on September 26, and 100 were arrested
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About 100 people were arrested on September 26 after climbing police barriers on Parliament Hill as they protested against further development of the Alberta Oil Sands.

The 400 total who protested the Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Alberta to Texas were peaceful, according to news reports.

Aboriginals on hand included Jackie Thomas, the chief of Saik'uz First Nation, a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance, Postmedia News reported.

She spoke out against the industry for the financial incentives that TransCanada, the pipeline’s would-be builder, has offered to First Nations communities in return for right-of-way through their territory.

"We've seen that routine in Canadian history and we say no," she told the crowd, according to Postmedia News. "We say no to the destruction of our land, water and people."

Bill Erasmus, chief of the Dene Nation in the Northwest Territories, also attended. The Dene are opposing Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would cut through British Columbia en route to the Pacific coast.

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“This is part of ongoing activity that is directly related to opposition of the tar sands,” he said in a statement before the protest. “From northern Alberta to the Arctic Ocean, our communities are directly downstream from tar sands developments. Water pollution and climate-changing greenhouse gases from the tar sands are impacting our rights—protected under Treaty 8 and Treaty 11—to hunt, trap and fish as we always have on our land. The Keystone XL pipeline expansion would facilitate a huge increase in tar sands expansion, and this pipeline must be stopped.”

Also attending and speaking was Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a member of the Lubicon Cree and a campaigner for Greenpeace, who spoke about the April Rainbow Pipeline oil spill that had caused burning eyes, headaches and nausea in her community, including among her family. It was one of the largest spills in Alberta’s history, and the effects are detailed in a video she made for Greenpeace.

"Our way of life is no longer the same. Our ecosystem is destroyed," she said, according to Postmedia News. "The government denied the severity of an oil spill."

The Lubicon Cree live near a pipeline that carries oil out of the sands. The spill prompted the weeklong closure of a school, among other problems.

The U.S. is in the middle of a 90-day approval period. Protests were held in Washington during late August and early September, with hundreds arrested, including aboriginal actress Tantoo Cardinal.

View some aerial shots of the oil sands, and read more about the controversy throughout the U.S. and Canada.