Yesterday, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court upheld an injunction from Alton Gas barring Mi’kmaq water protectors from protecting their land and water.
As described on the Stop Alton Gas website, “Alton Gas has a hugely destructive plan to create salt caverns in which to store natural gas, by dumping the equivalent of 3,000 tons of hard salt into the Shubenacadie River every day. This massive 50-year project would seriously harm the river ecosystem and put the health, livelihoods and rights of the Mi’kmaq people at risk. It is also in contravention of the Fisheries Act, which prohibits the deposit of ‘deleterious substances’ into water frequented by fish.”
The project did not meet consultation requirements with local indigenous communities. “In January 2017, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled that Sipekne’katik First Nation was not properly consulted during the environmental assessment process. This consultation has still not occurred,” the website notes.
Mi’kmaq water protectors have been asserting their treaty rights on the site since 2016. Since 2016, they have permanently occupied this site, effectively preventing the company from breaking the provincial, federal and treaty laws.
Nova Scotia Supreme Court Judge Gerald Moir granted a temporary order that requires Mi’kmaq water protectors to move from their current location on unceded terrority. It is not clear yet whether the RCMP will be asked to forcibly remove them from the site.
However, as the Stop Alton Gas website notes, “Article 10 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) clearly states: ‘Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their land or territories.’ Any removal of Mi’kmaq people will directly violate UNDRIP along with the Trudeau government’s promise to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
According to the CBC, the judge said he would need to see specific evidence for "an assertion of Aboriginal or treaty rights."
The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with the Mi’kmaq water protectors.