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.

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