Hearing delayed for three Indigenous protesters
Battle continues in two N.S. Supreme Court hearings over Alton Gas
HALIFAX — A hearing for a contempt of a court order against three Mi’kmaq women who were charged in April for allegedly breaking a temporary injunction to stay away from Alton Gas construction site north of Halifax has been postponed to the end of the year.
The land adjacent to the Shubenacadie River estuary is not ceded Mi’kmaq territory, says Michael McDonald, a Sipekne’katik lawyer, and Alton Gas has no business proceeding with the construction of a brining facility there.
“Our argument is those lands were never ceded or sold by the Mi’kmaq people so Alton Gas has no treaty claim to those lands along the Shubenacadie River,” Michael McDonald said outside of Nova Scotia Supreme Court Monday.
McDonald was in court to set dates for a couple of court proceedings, including the contempt of a court order against the three women — Madonna Bernard, Darlene Gilbert and Paula Isaac.
McDonald will also pursue a biggerpicture treaty and constitutional battle on behalf of the Sipekne’katik Band against the company, a subsidiary of AltaGas.
McDonald intends to file for an injunction to prevent Alton Gas from continuing with any work at the 16-hectare riverside site near Fort Ellis, Colchester County, until the legal case has worked its way through the court.
“We need to have all those activities ceased,” McDonald said.
It did not appear Monday that Alton Gas has any plans to cease operations in its project which will use 10,000 cubic metres of water daily from the estuary to create two giant gas storage caverns underground.
“Alton sites are work sites,” the company said in a statement. “There is a court decision and a court order in place to allow for safe access by workers to these Alton work facilities near Stewiacke.
The contempt of court case against the three women was originally set for August but has now been moved to Dec. 16 and 17. The December dates were intended to be the first of four dates to deal with the treaty and constitutional arguments but the court will hear motions for directions on that case on Oct. 28, at which time dates will be set for a Supreme Court hearing sometime in 2020.
Michelle Paul, left, Darlene Gilbert and Madonna Bernard stand outside the RCMP detachment in Enfield in this April photo. Gilbert and Bernard were arrested at the Alton Gas work site next to Shubenacadie River.