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Council organizer Tress at Truckhouse gathering to defend the Shubenacadie River

Photo by April Maloney

Halifax-based Council of Canadians organizer Robin Tress was at the “Hold down the Truckhouse for the highest tide of 2016” event near Fort Ellis today in defence of the Shubenacadie River.

The Facebook promotion for the event stated, “Please join the Mikmaq community, fishermen, neighbours and friends for the Sunday tidal bore and the highest expected tides for 2016. Please dress for the weather…layers are always good. We may watch from the truck house or retreat to the dike. Refreshments are welcome and available.”

On September 6, Kukukwes.com reported, “A group of Mi’kmaw and environmental activists have constructed a treaty ‘truckhouse’ next to the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project LP site along the Shubenacadie River near Stewiake, N.S. …The Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1752 was signed on November 22, 1752 between the Mi’kmaq and the British Crown. According to article four of the treaty, both parties agree that the Mi’kmaq ‘shall not be hindered from, but have free liberty of hunting and fishing as usual’. It also states that the Mi’kmaq can build a truckhouse along the Shubenacadie River ‘or any other place of their resort’ to store merchandise for trading purposes’.”

This truckhouse happens to be in the middle of the construction zone for the Alton Gas storage project.

Last week, Tress wrote, “The centrepiece of the resistance is the truckhouse, which is a fishing and trade building that is written into the Peace and Friendship treaties of the 1700s as an absolute right for Mi’kmaq and their trading partners. Simply by the nature of treaty rights, they are for all treaty beneficiaries – that means Mi’kmaq and non-Indigenous people alike have the right to visit the truckhouse, giving everyone treaty-protected access to the river. For three weeks Mi’kmaq have been building and painting the truckhouse to demonstrate the resistance to Alton Gas, and the continued dependence and connection to the river.”

The Council of Canadians has been opposing for the past two years a plan by Alton Natural Gas Storage LP to store natural gas near the rural community of Alton, which is situated about 75 kilometres north of Halifax.

The company, a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas Ltd., has proposed creating storage facilities for natural gas by drilling three wells in underground salt caverns. The idea is that the wells would be used to store natural gas to hedge against higher natural gas prices in the winter. The project would also include two 12-kilometre pipelines. One would be used to pump water from the Shubenacadie River estuary to flush the salt out of the caverns (to make way for the gas to be stored) and the other for transporting the resulting salt brine mixture into storage ponds that would be built beside an estuary in Fort Ellis (and then discharged back into the river).

And as Tress has highlighted, “If you’ve been following our Every Lake, Every River campaign, you’ll know that most rivers in Canada, including the Shubie, are not protected under the Navigation Protection Act and are at risk of corporate interests polluting our waters with all manner of toxins despite community opposition and lack of Indigenous consent. In addition, the pipeline that would carry natural gas to and from the caverns is slated to cross the Stewiacke River. Because the former Harper government exempted pipelines and powerlines from being reviewed under the Navigation Protection Act and Trudeau has yet to address this glaring issue, the natural gas pipeline won’t be reviewed for its impacts on navigable waters.”

For more on the Every Lake, Every River campaign, please click here.

#StopAltonGas #EveryLakeEveryRiver