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NEWS: Kainai anti-fracking activists make their legal arguments

APTN reports, “Three Kainai women from the Blood reserve in southern Alberta appeared in Cardston provincial court on Dec. 21 after being arrested by Blood Tribe police and charged with ‘intimidation’ for blocking the highway. Lois Frank, Elle-Maija Apiniskim Tailfeathers and Jill Crop Eared Wolf are members of a group called the Kainai Earth Watch. The charges came as a result of a Sept. 9 non-violent protest against hydraulic fracking on their lands. The women stood in front of Murphy Oil company trucks, refusing to let the trucks leave an oil well site on the reserve.”

“Lois Frank, one of the Blood women charged, told APTN National News she remains confident in the legal position she has taken. She believes the government of Canada has a legal obligation to protect ‘Indians and Indian lands’ and would like to see a government representative in court doing that. …Frank is upset that NDP Aboriginal Affairs Critic Linda Duncan’s questions in the House of Commons about fracking on reserves on Dec. 11 were answered by the Environment minister who referred it to the province of Alberta. She wants the federal minister of Aboriginal Affairs to weigh in on the issue.”

“Ingrid Hess is a lawyer for two of the women charged. Elle-Maija Apiniskim Tailfeathers and Jill Crop Eared Wolf are students and don’t believe the oil companies’ licences are valid under Aboriginal law. They say lack of community consultation and disclosure of the details of the contracts means their right to consultation wasn’t fulfilled. …Hess has requested copies of the contracts which the oil companies say gives them a right to operate on Blood territory but so far she has not seen those documents.”

“The three women have some high profile supporters. Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians has visited the community and given the women her organization’s full support, including a contribution to their legal defense. Climate change advocate Bill McKibben and film director Josh Fox have also made statements in support of the women.”

On the evening of their arrest, Barlow said, “In June I had the honour of being invited by members of the Blood Nation to visit their beautiful land, and I was incredibly moved to witness firsthand the unswerving commitment of the people there to stop fracking from poisoning their water, land and people. I declared then that they had my complete support in their struggle, and today I once again offer my absolute solidarity to the Kainai people who are putting their bodies on the line to stop this destructive process.”

For campaign blogs related to this situation, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?s=kainai. The APTN report is at http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/12/23/peaceful-protestors-charged-with-intimidation/.