First published on April 12, 2019 by APTN National News Canada. The original article can be viewed here. Published with permission from APTN.
The three mi’kmaw grandmothers arrested Wednesday for trespassing and ignoring a court order not to block the Alton Gas site say their fight against the project isn’t over.
“We hold those treaties to this land, we’re sovereign, we never ceded our land to anybody,” Kukuwis Wowkis told APTN News.
The three grandmothers are not back at the site but met APTN News Treaty Truckhouse near the Alton Gas site in Nova Scotia.
The Truckhouse sits on Crown land and out of reach of Alton Gas.
While the three were arrested, no charges were laid.
They say that was the plan.
“We agreed that we were all going to get arrested and that we would fight this in the court,” said Wowkis.
“We would fight for our sovereignty in court.”
They were released on the condition that they stay away from the site.
“Yes, we’re not allowed down there to block those workers not on, supposedly, Alton Gas’ land which it’s not,” said Thunderbird Swooping Down Woman.
“It’s unceded Mi’kma’ki territory.”
They say it is their right to be at the river, and they will continue to protect it.
“This is our treaty area, the treaty area we are allowed to fish so we are going to fish,” said Kiju Muin.
Alton Gas put up a designated protest area.
The grandmothers say it’s like a “caged pen” and it’s offensive.
“They are repeating their false horrible decisions what they did to our people,” said Muin.
They decided to use the fence as a tribute to missing and murdered Indigenous.
“Everybody around here, everybody that drives by, they see the red dresses and you know, letting people know you know we will not forget our daughters, or sisters, our grandchildren, our mothers,” said Wowkis.
Alton Gas wants to store natural gas underground along the Sipekne’katik river, and pump salty brine into the water.
The Mi’kmaq have occupied a camp at the entrance to the work site since 2017.
Last month, Alton Gas won an injunction to remove the water protectors from the site.
They are concerned the storage project will damage the river.
The Assembly of Nova Scotia Chiefs released a statement so there is no ambiguity in where leadership stands in this fight.
“The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs (assembly) – which is made up of all 13 chiefs in Nova Scotia has never supported the Alton Gas project as we too, have environmental concerns about this project,” the statement said in part.
The hearing for the permanent injunction is in August at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.
By Angel Moore.