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Hello, this is Michelle. This morning, Canada will be under scrutiny in Geneva as countries, one by one, tell the country how to improve its human rights record at a UN review all states must go through.

Indigenous groups from within and abroad are particularly eager to see Canada called out for failing to keep its extractive sector in check.

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Michelle Langrand


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Photo article

Environmental and Native American activists protesting for the closure of the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline. The pipeline runs under the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan, USA. Photographed in Detroit, Michigan, USA. (Keystone/Science Photo Library/Jim West)

Straddling the border between Canada and the United States, the Great Lakes form the world’s biggest freshwater system, roughly the size of the United Kingdom. The five connected lakes harbour one fifth of the world’s freshwater and provide drinking water for millions of people on both sides of the border.

But its millennia-old indigenous residents warn that a decaying twin pipeline running through the region threatens to wreak environmental havoc at any moment. Line 5, operated by the Canadian-based multinational Enbridge, carries crude oil and natural gas from west to east of Canada and passes under the Straits of Mackinac, a connecting waterway between the Lakes Michigan and Huron of the Great Lakes.

Whitney Gravelle is president of the Bay Mills Indian Community, a sovereign tribal nation residing on the US side of the border near the strait. “There are natural watersheds and wetlands, and there are endangered species throughout the area that would all be catastrophically harmed from an oil spill,” she told Geneva Solutions.

Gravelle travelled to Geneva in August to seek support from states months before they reviewed Canada’s rights record on Friday, 10 November, at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which is led by the Human Rights Council.

Read the full story on Geneva Solutions

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