Dale Poulette, Dorene Bernard, and Carrie-Ellen Gabriel speak in Antigonish about the many reasons and ways to stop the Alton Gas project. Photo: Sam Webber.
This week I was in Antigonish hosting the second town hall on the Stop Alton Gas tour. It was great to bring the fight for water, climate, and equity to Antigonish, Nova Scotia’s hometown of co-operative business, ongoing adult education, and social justice.
The Antigonish movement of the early 1900s was fishermen, farmers, and other workers’ response to being exploited by capitalist middlemen and companies. These workers were often left without the resources they needed to live fulfilling lives, and finally worked together to build a better reality. The approach the movement leaders took to address this problem was to empower the workers to create a better situation for themselves, and build their economic freedom through education and co-operative action. This is where many co-operative businesses sprung up, where a new form of the credit union model was born, and where small town workers made names for themselves as not to be trifled with.
It’s fitting to hold a town hall about Alton Gas at the birthplace of the Antigonish Movement, as this project would threaten the traditional livelihoods of fishermen, farmers, and other business owners in the area (not to mention water for thousands of people and millennia of Mi’kmaq history and culture), all for a bit of profit for a company that has no ties to this community. The Alton Gas project is part of a pattern in Nova Scotia of our resources being sold off to the lowest bidder with little regulation or protection for our people, leaving the working people without.
About 60 people came out to see the panel of speakers, which included Dorene Bernard, grassroots grandmother and water protector; Dale Poulette, who keeps watch on Alton Gas along the bands of the Shubenacadie River; and Carrie-Ellen Gabriel, an earth scientist who studies the intersections of water, soil, and the climate.
The panel was informative and passionate, and brought perspectives from the front lines on the side of the river, about longer term stories of resisting corporate control of resources and water, and about the urgency with which we need to turn away from projects like Alton Gas and towards renewable energy system.
Dale told us about his experiences fighting fracking in Elsipogtog and how those lessons are valuable for the Alton Gas fight. Dorene related the ‘Alton Gas experiment’ to the residential school experiment, and said, “We won’t be experimented on any more.” Carrie-Ellen talked about the multiple intersecting risks this project poses on our water, land, and climate, summarizing astutely: “this is a mess”.
We’re thankful to everyone who showed up and took interest in joining the fight for our collective future! Stay tuned for more tour stops and more action against Alton Gas.
Watch the full recording of the talk here.