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Feb 13, 18

Alton Gas Criminalizing Grassroots Mi’kmaq Water Protectors

The following update comes from people on the ground in Mi’kmaq territory defending land and water from the construction of an Alton Gas project. Check their Twitter feed for more updates. 

Sipekne’katik/Fort Ellis — Alton Gas has posted signs outside the Treaty Camp at the Shubenacadie River naming water protectors on site as trespassers and criminals.

Grassroots Mi’kmaq water protectors have been holding down a protection camp at the Shubenacadie River for nine months to prevent Alton Gas from dumping thousands of tons of salt brine into the sacred river every day. They are outraged by Alton Gas’ bully tactics and intent to resume work on the project without allowing Sipekne’katik to complete its community consultation process.

The Alton Gas project proposes to create two salt caverns by solution mining an existing salt deposit, dumping the salt brine in the Shubenacadie River, and filling the resulting caverns with gas. The company’s mixing channel, designed to mix the brine into the river water, filled with mud almost immediately upon its creation. Additionally, Alton Gas is eight years behind schedule, has a number of lapsed and defunct permits, and has cancelled two of the four caverns it originally planned to create.

“Alton Gas has been interfering with Sipekne’katik’s self-made consultation process,” says grassroots grandmother water protector, Dorene Bernard. “The band has recently hired a person to do Community Consultation on this project and others. Now, the company is trying to intimidate and harass water protectors, and paint us as criminals.”

“This camp is peaceful, and principled,” says Bernard. “We’re here as Mi’kmaq and treaty rights holders to defend our right to this river and this place. Defending this right is our responsibility. Alton Gas is trying to paint us as criminal for protecting our Treaty rights and doing our sacred duty to protect our unceded lands and waters.”

“Sipekne’katik has been developing its own consultation process – we want to tell Canada how we will be consulted, and not have that dictated for us,” says Bernard. Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative (KMKNO) does not represent Sipekne’katik.  “Alton Gas is trying to bully us here at the river by calling us criminals, and bully our band council into signing an impact benefit agreement. All we’re doing is defending our treaty right to this river and protection of the watershed.

“The RCMP officers come with Alton Gas when they try to do work or hang up signs like these ones. They are protecting Alton Gas’s interests more than they are protecting us as peaceful water protectors and treaty rights holders,” says Rebecca Cope-Moore.

Treaty Camp water protectors are calling on the Government of Nova Scotia to stop Alton Gas from proceeding with their project while Sipekne’katik completes its consultation process.

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SWAGR (Solidarity with Alton Gas Resistance) is a Halifax-based group of organizers from Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre, Solidarity Halifax and the general community. The focus of this group is to support resistance efforts against the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project, and we take our direction from frontline Mi’kmaq communities and other residents of the surrounding area.

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