Alton Gas foes get small designated zone for ‘peaceful protest’

An unidentified man stands at a Mi’kmaq camp at the entrance to an Alton Gas work site along the Shubenacadie River, in Fort Ellis, N.S. on Monday, March 18, 2019. (CP/Andrew Vaughan)

HALIFAX — A court order has laid out a small patch of fenced land where Aboriginal and other protesters will be required to remain as they oppose a plan to store natural gas in underground caverns north of Halifax.

The designated area of grassy field, about 22 metres by 38 metres, is part of a Nova Scotia Supreme Court order that details how a temporary injunction against protesters on the Alton Gas property will be applied.

But opponents dismissed the official “protest site” as a “play pen” in comments on the “Stop Alton Gas” Facebook site.

Michelle Paul posted on Twitter, “There is no cage big enough to contain our treaty spirit.”

A spokeswoman for Alton confirmed that fencing was being erected at the Fort Ellis, N.S., site, and that signs were being posted.

The court document released by the company Monday — which includes an aerial view of the protest site — comes in the wake of the injunction ordered on March 18 by Justice Gerald Moir of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

The court order dated March 27 says the RCMP may arrest any person who violates the order.

It also says the protesters must conduct their protest peacefully, only during daylight hours and that they not set up “any inhabitation” at the site.

It prohibits people from interfering by force, threats or coercion with Alton Gas and utility workers seeking entrance to the site at 625 Riverside Road for the “purpose of investigating a recent power outage, and assessing and repairing property damage arising therefrom, and for all other operational and security purposes.”

For the past 12 years, Alton Gas has been planning to pump water from the Shubenacadie River to an underground site 12 kilometres away, where it will be used to flush out salt deposits, and create up to 15 caverns.

The leftover brine solution would then be pumped back into the river over a two- to three-year period.

Protesters have gathered at the site for several years, arguing that the plan poses dangers to the traditional fisheries of the Mi’kmaq and risks harming the river used by Aboriginal populations for thousands of years.

The protest had included a makeshift structure that blocked the main access road to the company’s pumphouse and control centre near the Shubenacadie River.

When Moir granted the temporary injunction to end the actions by Dale Poulette, Rachael Greenland-Smith and others, he said the company must set up another area where “protesters” could gather and be seen by the public.

The new site is an area visible from the main road, but is about 25 to 30 metres from the entrance to the Alton work site where the current protest camp is located.

“The decision by the court means people trespassing, including those named in the injunction and others having notice of the order, must leave or go to the protest area. Moving forward, access to the work site is open only to approved Alton staff and contractors,” says an Alton Gas news release.

“We are setting up a separate area for peaceful protest that will be clearly marked.”

The order released Monday says that under the terms negotiated and signed by the lawyers for Poulette and Greenland-Smith and the Alberta-based firm, any person arrested may be released provided the person agrees to abide by the court order, but can also be kept in custody.

However, the document says that the respondents can apply to the courts to vary the order, after giving 72 hours notice.

The Ecojustice lawyer for Poulette and Greenland-Smith who signed the document says he is no longer representing them, and their new lawyer was not available for comment.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was met by protesters of the Alton Gas project during his visit to Halifax, and he said Ottawa will consider their grievances.

Trudeau said Ottawa would work with local communities, Mi’kmaq chiefs and the province “to move forward on regulations in a way that addresses your concerns.”

The federal government said last month that it will step in to regulate the company’s plan in a way that would manage potential threats to fish, fish habitat and human health.

The Canadian Press, Published Monday, April 1, 2019 

[SOURCE]

Slow-Motion Showdown Continues on Banks of Shubenacadie River

Mi’kmaq activists Dorene Bernard, right, and Ducie Howe stand on the shores of the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Alton Natural Gas Storage LP’s plan to build natural gas storage caverns meets resistance

On the muddy banks of Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie River, Dorene Bernard is listening for sounds that will let her know the historic waterway is about to change direction.

“The wind will pick up, and you’ll start hearing the water and waves coming,” the Mi’kmaq activist says as she walks through the tall grass, carrying a large fan made from an eagle’s wing.

The Shubenacadie is a 72-kilometre tidal river that cuts through the middle of Nova Scotia and flows into the Bay of Fundy. But when the world’s highest tides rise in the bay, salt water flows up the river for almost half its length, creating a wave — or tidal bore — that pushes against the river’s current.

Protesters at the Shubenacadie River say despite what AltaGas said in their release on Friday, very little work on the project has taken place in the last month. (Shawn Maloney)

It’s an unusual natural phenomenon that draws tourists from around the world. It has also helped support the Mi’kmaq for more than 13,000 years.

“This is a major highway, a major artery for our people,” says Bernard, a social worker, academic and member of the Sipekne’katik First Nation in nearby Indian Brook, N.S.

“Our ancestors are buried along here … It has a very significant historical, spiritual and cultural relevance to who we are.”

Plan to pump brine into river

Before the bore arrives, the river is like glass on this humid, windless day.

However, Bernard is mindful that another change is coming for the river and her people.

For the past 12 years, a Calgary-based company has been planning to pump water from the river to an underground site 12 kilometres away, where it will be used to flush out salt deposits, creating huge caverns that will eventually store natural gas.

A sign marks the entrance to Mi’kmaq encampment near the Shubenacadie River, a 72-kilometre tidal river that cuts through the middle of Nova Scotia and flows into the Bay of Fundy, in Fort Ellis, N.S. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

AltaGas says the leftover brine solution will be pumped into the river, twice a day at high tide, over a two- to three-year period.

The initial plan is to create two caverns about a kilometre underground. But the company has said it may need as many as 15 caverns, which would be linked to the nearby Maritimes and Northeast natural gas pipeline, about 60 kilometres north of Halifax.

The storage is needed by an AltaGas subsidiary, Heritage Gas, which sells natural gas in the Halifax area and a few other Nova Scotia communities. It says it wants to stockpile its product during the colder months to protect its customers from price shocks when demand spikes.

Drilling for the first two caverns has been completed.

$130M project largely on hold

After years of consultations, legal wrangling and scientific monitoring, the company’s Nova Scotia-based subsidiary, Alton Natural Gas Storage LP, has said it plans to start the brining process some time later this year.

Bernard says her people are not going to let that happen.

The $130-million project has been largely on hold since 2014 when Mi’kmaq activists started a series of protests that culminated two years later in the creation of a year-round protest camp at the work site northwest of Stewiacke.

Felix Bernard walks near a Mi’kmaq encampment along the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

“We’re not going to let anyone destroy our water,” Bernard said in a recent interview, declining to elaborate on what will happen if police or security guards try to reclaim the site.

“The impacts will be huge. You can’t just put something in your vein and think it’s not going to affect your whole body.”

She says the company has consulted with Indigenous leaders, but she insists it has done a poor job of reaching out to the Mi’kmaq people, particularly those who are members of her First Nation.

“There was never a public hearing with Alton Gas in our community. Never.”

Permits secured, consultations

For its part, the company has insisted it has consulted with local Indigenous people, and the provincial government has agreed.

More importantly, the company says it has already secured the permits it needs to start pumping water from the river.

At the entrance to the protest camp off Riverside Road, a steel gate is covered in placards and a canvas lean-to. A sign that warns against trespassing — installed by the company with the help of the RCMP — has been covered with a blanket.

Protesters maintain a Mi’kmaq encampment near the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

In May of last year, protesters built a tiny, two-storey house out of straw bales and lime plaster. It has a dirt floor, wood stove, bunks and plenty of provisions inside.

There’s also a garden. Chickens and geese roam the makeshift squatters camp.

On this day, there are only three protesters — they call themselves water protectors — at the site. But some supporters from Halifax later drop by for a visit.

“We have a lot of allies, settlers who are supporting this camp — it’s not just the Mi’kmaq,” says Ducie Howe, Bernard’s cousin and a resident of what she calls Shubenacadie Reserve No. 14, the original name for the nearby First Nation.

“There’s people from all over who will come. And they’ll keep coming.”

‘Giving out permits? Those are illegal’

Howe says Nova Scotians need to be reminded that the company is operating on unceded Mi’kmaq territory.

“We signed peace and friendship treaties,” she says. “We never signed treaties that gave up any part of our lands … Giving out permits? Those are illegal. They didn’t have the right to do that.”

Closer to the river, there’s a smaller, flat-topped wooden building that Bernard describes as a truckhouse. The reference is to the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty, which states that the Mi’kmaq are free to build “truckhouses” along the river to facilitate trade.

In the distance, a small hut for security guards sits empty.

Company spokeswoman Lori Maclean says some protesters have been served with trespassing notices.

“The company is aware of the activity of protesters at the site and continues to engage with law enforcement and the community,” she said in a recent email. “Alton sites are work areas that are open only to Alton staff or approved contractors.”

Alton has received the environmental and industrial approvals it needs to proceed, including two environmental assessments and an independent third-party science review. However, provincial Environment Minister Margaret Miller has yet to make a decision about an appeal of the industrial approval filed by the Sipekne’katik First Nation.

Mi’kmaq activist Ducie Howe carries a sign at an encampment near the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

As for the brine that will be pumped into the river, the company says the peak release on each tidal cycle will be approximately 5,000 cubic metres, which will be mixed in with four million cubic metres of brackish tidal flow.

The company says the brine flowing into the Minas Basin “would not be detectable and would be insignificant in terms of the natural fluctuation of salinity the ecosystem is subject to during each tidal cycle.”

‘Brine will not impact the ecosystem’

Alton Gas also says the intake pipe will not suck in fish or small organisms because the water will be filtered through a rock wall, and the intake flow will be low enough to allow all fish to swim away.

“The requirements of our monitoring program with provincial and federal regulators will ensure that the brine will not impact the ecosystem,” the company’s website says.

Before Bernard and Howe leave the river, the pair stand at the edge of the bank to make an offering through song.

The lyrics are sung in the original Ojibwa and then in Mi’kmaq: “Water, I love you. I thank you. I respect you. Water is life.”

By Michael MacDonald · The Canadian Press · Aug 05, 2018

[SOURCE]

Mi’kmaq community on edge over hit-and-run death of Brady Francis

Brady Francis, of Elsipogtog First Nation, is shown in this undated handout image. CP/HO-Garnett Augustine

Elsipogtog First Nation seeks justice for Brady Francis killed Saturday in Saint-Charles

A grieving New Brunswick First Nation is anxiously awaiting the results of a police probe into the hit-and-run death of a popular young man, with many saying they are seeking a justice they felt was eluded in the killings of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine.

Brady Francis, 22, was hit by a pickup truck Saturday as he departed a party in Saint-Charles, a predominantly francophone town about 12 kilometres south of the Elsipogtog reserve.

Social media posts were circulating Wednesday with pictures of Fontaine, Boushie and Francis side by side, and many were tweeting #justiceforbrady, echoing hashtags used after the recent jury verdicts on the Prairies.

“I’m just saying that I hope history doesn’t repeat itself,” Garnett Augustine, Francis’s employer, said Wednesday.

Ruth Levi, a band councillor and the director of social services in Elsipogtog, said in an interview that the Mi’kmaq community is calling for charges in the death.

“We’re hurting, we left a very fine, wonderful young man. Our youth are hurting, the whole community is,” said the 57-year-old community leader in a telephone interview.

“We’re keeping an eye out for the results of the police investigation.”

She said community members attended a fundraiser Monday evening at CC’s Entertainment Centre on the reserve to raise over $31,000 for funeral expenses for the young man’s funeral.

Many people will be wearing white T-shirts with the logo “Justice For Brady,” at a funeral planned for Saturday, she added.

Levi was among the community members who drove to the scene on Saturday night in Saint-Charles.

Word rapidly spread that a GMC pickup truck had struck Francis as he walked away from an evening gathering.

Levi said family members have informed her that Francis had called his father, asking for a drive home and that the young man was awaiting the arrival of his relatives to bring him home.

Augustine, Francis’s employer at the entertainment centre, said he rushed to the scene after the incident, and witnessed paramedics trying to revive the young man he referred to as “my little right-hand man.”

Like Levi, Augustine said community members are deeply concerned by the death, and are eager to know precisely what occurred.

“I’m hoping for justice,” he said, adding that the recent not guilty verdicts in the 2016 death of Boushie in Saskatchewan and the 2014 death of Fontaine in Winnipeg are on the minds of many in the First Nation community.

“It’s hard. The whole community is shattered,” he said.

A memorial for Brady Francis, 22,. Morganne Campbell/ Global News

Said one Twitter user: “All we can do is pray that Canada gets this one right.”

Only scant details have been made available so far about what occurred.

Police said in a news release on Tuesday that Francis was “a pedestrian” in Saint-Charles, N.B., on the evening when he was struck.

RCMP initially said they found a GMC truck sign at the scene, and have since seized a truck as part of the investigation.

The Mounties also said in a news release they are analyzing a key piece of evidence and have been conducting interviews.

Still, emotions have been running high, said Levi.

She said she and about 40 other community residents went to the house of the alleged driver of the truck on the morning after the incident.

Francis’s grandfather urged the crowd to disperse, and Levi helped to arrange a candlelight vigil on the reserve.

“We’re preparing for Saturday’s funeral … Brady’s body will be home tomorrow and we’ll get the crisis team ready,” she said.

“This young man took the appropriate steps to come home. He called his parents … and while he’s talking to his Dad, all of a sudden the phone goes dead. That’s something we don’t want people to forget,” she said.

— Story by Michael Tutton in Halifax.

The Canadian Press 

[SOURCE]

Online Threats, Arson and Illegal Traps: Feud between Indigenous, other Fisherman in Nova Scotia at Boiling Point

Lobster boats head to drop their traps from Digby, N.S. on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. CP/Andrew Vaughan

Non-Aboriginal fishermen have held a series of protests, saying some Indigenous fishermen were illegally selling lobster outside of the commercial season, and federal authorities have seized more than 300 illegal traps

A drydocked boat owned by a non-Aboriginal fisherman was torched, followed a few days later by a boat owned by a Mi’kmaq man.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said it wasn’t clear what was going on in picturesque St. Mary’s Bay, and the RCMP said even less. But suddenly, a simmering dispute over the province’s Indigenous lobster fishery had taken on a new sense of urgency.

Non-Aboriginal fishermen have held a series of protests, saying some Indigenous fishermen were illegally selling lobster outside of the commercial season, and federal authorities have seized more than 300 illegal traps, though it remains unclear who owns them.

The tensions represent unfinished business from a September 1999 ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada that confirmed that First Nations have sweeping fishing and other treaty rights but left lingering questions about the limits.

“Some people are patient, but I think what we’re seeing is that some people are not patient — or have given up on a timely resolution,” said Bruce Wildsmith, legal adviser to the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.

Wildsmith has been involved since the beginning. He represented Donald Marshall Jr. in the 1999 case, when the country’s highest court ruled that Marshall had a treaty right to fish for eels when and where he wanted — without a licence.

Marshall — previously best known for being wrongfully convicted of murder — had caught 210 kilograms of eels one day in August 1993, and then sold them for $787.10.

Lobster boats head to drop their traps from Digby, N.S. on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. CP/Andrew Vaughan

The Marshall decision also said Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy bands in Eastern Canada could hunt, fish and gather to earn a “moderate livelihood,” though the court followed up with a clarification two months later, saying the treaty right was subject to federal regulation.

However, the Mi’kmaq communities at Burnt Church in New Brunswick and Indian Brook in Nova Scotia defied federal authorities and immediately set lobster traps under their own band management plans.

That led to the seizure of traps, arrests, charges, collisions on the water, shots fired at night, boat sinkings, injuries and threats of retribution.

Over the course of three turbulent years, most First Nations in the Maritimes and Quebec signed interim fishing agreements with Ottawa, which has spent more than $600 million providing Indigenous bands with boats, equipment and licences.

But those interim agreements remain just that — temporary fixes for a festering problem, says Wildsmith.

He says negotiations with Ottawa following a framework agreement in 2008 have dragged on with no end in sight.

The latest clash in Nova Scotia is focused on the Indigenous food, social and ceremonial fishery. Under a previous ruling from the Supreme Court, known as Sparrow, First Nations are allowed to fish outside the regular commercial season to feed their communities or to supply ceremonial gatherings — but they are barred from selling their catches.

In mid-September, non-Aboriginal fishermen in western Nova Scotia started a series of peaceful protests at federal offices to draw attention to their claims that a small faction of Indigenous fishermen were selling their catches out of season, using the food and ceremonial fishery as cover.

“The powers that be simply aren’t enforcing the rules and regulations,” said Bernie Berry, president of the Coldwater Lobster Association.

Berry stressed that non-Indigenous fisherman support the food, social and ceremonial fishery, but he insisted the federal Fisheries Department must put a stop to what he described as a growing black market.

Lobster boats head to drop their traps from Digby, N.S. on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. CP/Andrew Vaughan

Morley Knight, an assistant deputy minister with the Fisheries Department, says Fisheries officers have stepped up their patrols in the area, which has resulted in the seizure of illegal traps.

As for the pace of negotiations with Indigenous groups seeking permanent fisheries agreements, Knight said progress is being made despite the long time frame.

“It’s not unusual, given other experiences where there have been negotiations related to treaty-related rights,” he said in an interview. “They do take a very long time.”

He said the Marshall decision made it clear that a “moderate livelihood fishery” must be conducted under federal regulations to ensure conservation of the resource.

“The response that the department has made … to Marshall has been to provide access (to the fishery) for the purposes of sale, which contributes to the economies of the communities and therefore to a moderate livelihood,” he said.

Wildsmith disagrees with that assessment. He repeatedly stressed that implementing a permanent agreement that addresses what it means to earn a moderate livelihood has yet to be resolved at the negotiating table.

“To think that the negotiation process that has been ongoing since 2008 is going to solve this immediate crisis is California dreaming,” he said. “That process is nowhere close to resolving these issues and it will certainly will not be done in a timely way for those folks who want to go sell fish.”

He said access to the commercial fishery doesn’t equate with a “moderate livelihood” fishery, which must have a separate and distinct set of rules and regulations. That’s why the Indigenous groups that he works with are calling for a separate moderate livelihood licence.

A livelihood fishery would focus on individuals providing for their families, rather than the simple creation of commercial wealth, he said.

“Commercial is not the same as livelihood, and the Supreme Court said that in Marshall … There was never any agreement to have the livelihood fishery conducted under the commercial rules.”

As well, the Marshall decision made it clear that Indigenous Peoples have an existing constitutional right to engage in a moderate livelihood fishery, Wildsmith said. That’s why some Aboriginal fishermen may believe they can sell lobster caught outside the commercial season, he said.

“Constitutional rights supersede the statutory requirements,” Wildsmith said.

Knight said the federal government is open to discussing creation of moderate livelihood licences.

“The federal government … is open to any and all suggestions that make sense, as long as there are measures in place to ensure the fishery is sustainable and conservation objectives are maintained … within a regulated fishery.”

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Alt-Right Group Posts Names, Photos of ‘Potentially Dangerous’ Cornwallis Protesters

Personal information about people who have shown interest in protests against an Edward Cornwallis statue in Halifax has been posted online. For privacy protection, CBC has published only the information of persons included in the story. (Twitter )

28 people ‘doxed’ by national socialist group, some labelled as mentally ill

By Nic Meloney, CBC News Posted: Jul 20, 2017

A group of self-described national socialists in Nova Scotia has posted personal information about people who have shown interest in protests calling for the removal of an Edward Cornwallis statue in Halifax, labelling them as “potentially dangerous.”

Cornwallis was a governor of Nova Scotia. In 1749, he issued a so-called scalping proclamation offering a cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi’kmaq person.

On Saturday, a large crowd protested around the statue and demanded the likeness of Halifax’s controversial founder be removed from a downtown park.

Demonstators had earlier threatened on Facebook to remove the statue but relented when municipal crews covered the monument in black cloth for the duration of the event.

An anonymous Twitter user affiliated with Cape Breton Alt Right published a list online last Thursday, releasing the names, photos and other identifying details of 28 people interested in the removal of the statue — in a process known on the internet as “doxing.”

The list, later shared and discussed on Facebook, also included categories like:

  • Group affiliation (anti-Fascist, Communist, anarchist, LGBT).
  • Associates/sexual partners.
  • Occupation.
  • Contact info/social media links.
  • Location.
  • Interests.

The final “notes” column identifies some people as being “mentally ill and unstable,” “extremely militant and dangerous,” having histories of being “drunk and disorderly” and being on police watch lists.

Tied to anti-fascist organization

The list included a ‘notes’ column, labelling some people as violent or mentally ill. (Twitter)

Adam Lemoine of North Sydney was doxed as having affiliations with Antifa, a far-left, anti-fascist organization. He said he was “blown away” when he found out, as he has never even been to a protest.

“The only information they had correct was my name and my hometown,” said Lemoine, who caught wind of the list after it was posted on Facebook.​

“They have me playing an instrument I didn’t play, in a band that no longer exists.”

Lemoine said he clicked “interested” on a Facebook event for a protest last Saturday at the Cornwallis statue to get updates on what happened.

He believes the Twitter user who posted the list saw that, put his name into a search engine and listed what they found.

Activists protest at the base of the Edward Cornwallis statue last weekend after Halifax staff covered it with a black sheet. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

List created with public safety in mind: group

Lemoine said that when he asked the Cape Breton Alt Right group to remove his name from the list, it responded by saying even if he could prove his details were wrong, the rest of the information would stay.

The group continues to maintain anonymity and refused to be interviewed by the CBC over the phone or in person on the grounds that it would be “inappropriate.”

In an emailed statement, however, the group said it has received death threats almost daily since the list was posted.

The statement goes on to compare the actions of Cornwallis demonstrators to the destruction of historical sites in Palmyra by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and indicates the list was compiled over the course of about two months “in the interest of public safety.”

“The community at large has a right to know the identities of those around them who may pose a threat to their immediate safety and a threat to their property,” said the two-page statement, signed only by “leadership.”

Wrongfully labelled

Tanner Leudy, a student at Cape Breton University, shared the same event page for the Cornwallis protest on Facebook though he knew he couldn’t attend.

Leudy said he had never even heard of Antifa before the list linked him to the organization and he’s worried about how being associated with such a group could affect the future of those who’ve been doxed.

“I’ve never done anything to warrant [the inclusion],” said Leudy. “Being labelled as a dangerous protester, even if it’s not true, isn’t something that employers will want in their workplace.”

Anthony Leudy says he shared a Facebook event and then was wrongfully labelled ‘potentially dangerous’ by an anonymous Twitter user. (Twitter)

The group maintains all of the information was gathered within the public domain, referencing social media and news interviews, but David Fraser, an internet privacy lawyer in Halifax, said it’s the language of the list’s “notes” column that may push legal boundaries.

Questioning the legality

Information compiled from social media platforms is fair game when it comes to doxing, said Fraser.

However, he added that legal proceedings on doxing, as rare as they are, require that what has been published is explored as much as why it has been published.

“To be defamatory, all something has to do is to harm your reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person,” said Fraser.

“It would seem to me that [the notes] at the end of the list would be, on its face, defamatory and the onus would shift to the person who said them to justify them as being true.”

Fraser said the Halifax Proud Boys provide a good example of doxing.

He said they were “implicitly doxed” by volunteering their personal information when showing up at an Indigenous rally on Canada Day in Cornwallis Park. They were recorded and the videos eventually made it to their workplace, resulting in their reprimand.

But, Fraser said, it’s part of the “rough and tumble” of freely expressed politics.

CBC News reached out to the Cape Breton Regional Police, the Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP. They say no investigation is ongoing because no one has come forward with a complaint.

Intention to intimidate?

El Jones says the doxing proves the extremity of the racism surrounding the Edward Cornwallis statue issue. (Twitter)

El Jones, Halifax’s former poet laureate and a well-known, outspoken activist, said she is not surprised she ended up on the list.

“You hope that this is just some form of extreme reaction that’s perhaps just intended to intimidate people,” said Jones.

“[But] you have to take seriously the intent behind it, which is an attempt to harm.”

[SOURCE]

 

 

‘Offensive and Disgraceful’: Protesters Cheer as City of Halifax Shrouds Cornwallis Statue

Protesters who pledged to remove a statue of Halifax’s controversial founder Saturday say they came away victorious after the monument to Edward Cornwallis was covered. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

Mayor Mike Savage says veil is a temporary measure, will be removed after demonstration

By Frances Willick, CBC News Posted: Jul 15, 2017

Municipal crews draped a black cloth over a statue of Edward Cornwallis in a downtown Halifax park Saturday as protesters gathered with a plan to remove the statue.

After a city truck arrived, crews informed the gathering they would shroud the monument as a sign of good faith.

Cheers went up from the crowd as the monument disappeared under its new veil. Some demonstrators chanted and raised their fists in the air as others drummed and sang. Afterward, people joined hands and slowly circled the statue.

CBC News reporters on the scene estimated there were about 150 people at the gathering.

Cornwallis, a governor of Nova Scotia, was a military officer who founded Halifax for the British in 1749. The same year, he issued the so-called scalping proclamation, offering a cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi’kmaq person.

Veil is temporary, says mayor

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage attended the demonstration.

He said the veil is a temporary measure and that it will be removed sometime after the demonstration, though he did not give details on the time frame.

“We said we’d leave it up for the [Aug. 7 Natal Day] ceremony,” he said. “I don’t know that there’s a rush to take it down, but it will come down.”

Demonstrators gather in front of a veiled statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax on July 15, 2017. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Organizers had hoped the plan to remove the statue would prompt the city to pledge to do so itself by Natal Day. But Savage said in a statement earlier this week that a process is already in place to discuss the issue and that the removal of the statue on Saturday could “set back progress.”

Committee to begin work in September

Halifax regional council voted 15-1 in April to establish a panel to make recommendations on how to grapple with municipal infrastructure named after Cornwallis.

Savage said on Saturday that the committee members, which will include Mi’kmaq people, will likely be in place by September. A timeline for recommendations and decisions will be determined by the committee, he said.

Savage stopped short of saying he wants the statue to come down, but he called it an “obvious impediment” to reconciliation.

Protesters plan to remove this statue of Edward Cornwallis in downtown Halifax on Saturday. (The Canadian Press)

“I want to resolve the situation,” he said. “I don’t think the status quo is good.”

Indigenous activists said Saturday they will continue negotiating with the city to peacefully remove the statue.

‘It brings back pain’

Patrick LeBlanc, an Indigenous man from Digby, N.S., said the statue is a painful reminder of the oppression of First Nations people in Canada.

“This gentleman here represented a genocide for our people,” LeBlanc said. “And to see it every day, it just brings back memories and it also brings back pain.”

LeBlanc said simply covering the statue isn’t enough. He would like to see it replaced with something that will give restitution and healing.

A crowd of about 150 people gathered at the statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax’s Cornwallis Park on July 15, 2017. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Protester Daniel Arnot said removing the statue shows support for reconciliation with Indigenous people.

“I think some people should open their eyes and listen to people who are just making a humble request that this offensive and disgraceful homage to colonial history is removed,” he said.

A small number of people who attended the event appeared to hold dissenting opinions of Cornwallis, as at least one man began shouting at the protesters and another showed up with a U.K. flag.

Police presence

Halifax Regional Police said Saturday morning that officers would be on the scene to ensure a peaceful demonstration can take place.

But police “will respond to any criminal acts that take place,” a spokesperson for the police force said in an emailed  statement.

It’s unclear how activists planned to take the statue down. It stands on a stone pedestal about two and a half to three metres off the ground.

Site of protests in past

The statue has been altered by protesters in the past. In 2016, someone splattered red paint across the statue and the pedestal.

The site was also the scene of an Indigenous protest on Canada Day in which a woman shaved her head and placed her two braids at the foot of the statue. The woman said she wanted her action to bring attention to issues including Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people and the environment.

At that protest, members of the group Proud Boys showed up and told the gathering that they were “disrespecting General Cornwallis.”

[SOURCE]

National Defence Confirms Five Servicemen Involved In Confrontation at Indigenous Ceremony on Canada Day

Proud Boys

  • Staff | The Canadian Press, July 4, 2017

The military says five men involved in a filmed confrontation at an Indigenous ceremony in Halifax are members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and any misconduct will be addressed.

The men approached a spiritual event honouring the suffering of Indigenous Peoples on Canada Day, at a statue of Halifax’s controversial founder, Edward Cornwallis.

The group of men were clad in black polo shirts with yellow piping — one of them carrying a Red Ensign Flag — as they approached singing “God Save the Queen,” according to one Mi’kmaq organizer. The Canadian Red Ensign, which bears the Union Jack in the corner, was the national flag until it was replaced by the Maple Leaf design in 1965.

National Defence spokesman Daniel LeBouthillier confirmed Tuesday that five Forces members were involved in the incident, at least two of whom belong to the Navy.

Commanders of the Canadian Army and Navy released a joint statement Tuesday saying that the chain of command “takes action” when a member’s conduct is not in keeping with military code.

“The actions of a few do not reflect the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Army commitment to being inclusive and diverse organizations,” Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd and Lt.-Gen. Paul Wynnyk said in a Facebook post.

“Unfortunately, some of our sailors and soldiers have not … made the necessary mind shift that leads to deep institutional change.”

Lloyd and Wynnyk said they are confident that command teams in the Navy and Army know “what right looks like,” and said their actions will not be shared on social media unless required.

Cornwallis, as governor of Nova Scotia, founded Halifax in 1749, and soon after issued a bounty on Mi’kmaq scalps in response to an attack on colonists.

A video of the Canada Day incident at the Cornwallis statue shows five men interacting with spectators at the ceremony.

“This is a British colony,” one of the men says in the video. “You’re recognizing the heritage and so are we.”

In the video, one of the spectators appears to hold an upside-down Canadian flag, which someone implies has been marked with the word “decolonize.”

Asked if the group is associated with an organization, one of the men in the video says, “The Proud Boys, Maritime chapter.”

The Proud Boys Canadian Chapters Facebook page says they are “a fraternal organization of Western Chauvinists who will no longer apologize for creating the modern world” and do not discriminate on the basis of race or sexuality.

A witness to the interaction says the men kept their voices down as the ceremony continued and left after about 10 minutes with little incident.

A spokesperson for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said he has been made aware of the claim and his office is following it closely.

[SOURCE]

Red Paint Thrown On Halifax’s Edward Cornwallis Statue After Controversial Vote

Red paint defaces the statue of Halifax city founder Edward Cornwallis in Halifax on Friday, May 13, 2016.

Red paint defaces the statue of Halifax city founder Edward Cornwallis in Halifax on Friday, May 13, 2016.

By Red Power Media, Staff, May 20, 2016

Red paint thrown on statue of Halifax founder who issued bounty on scalps of Mi’kmaq men, women and children

The Mi’kmaq have long called for removal of tributes to Edward Cornwallis, some calling his actions against their ancestors a “genocide.”

Cornwallis, then governor of Nova Scotia, founded Halifax in 1749 and soon after issued a bounty on the scalps of Mi’kmaq men, women and children, in response to an attack on colonists.

A statue of Cornwallis was vandalized last week, days after Halifax council refused to reconsider how the city honours its controversial founder.

Red paint was found on the statue’s base, plaque and nearby stones, with smaller splashes on the statue itself.

CaptureStatue

The statue, which the Mi’kmaq community has long argued is racist, has been at the centre of controversy with many calling for it to be taken down. (CP)

All-White Vote Criticized

The statue has been vandalized before, in 2013, vandals wrote “FAKE”” in large red letters on the statue.

The Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre and Cornwallis Street Baptist church have petitioned council to re-name Cornwallis Street, partly inspiring the motion.

Rebecca Thomas, a Mi’kmaq poet who was named Halifax’s poet laureate in March, has criticized the vote of the all-white council, noting the “sweet irony” of some councillors’ concerns that their history would be erased in favour of an indigenous narrative.

Halifax removes red paint thrown on statue

Tiffany Chase, a spokeswoman for the Halifax Regional Municipality, said the city’s graffiti-removal contractor has already fixed the damage.

The city decided not to ask police to investigate.

Halifax police Const. Dianne Woodworth said the force does not investigate vandalism unless a complaint is made by the property owner.

“We don’t have an investigation at this point.”

With files from the Canadian Press

Mi’kmaq representatives set eel traps as part of natural gas storage project protest

Native fishermen and other protesters are seen making their way towards the edge of the water near the mouth of the Shubenacadie river to set eel traps as part of a protest against the Alton Natural Gas STORAGE project. In the background, heavy equipment is in the process of constructing salt brine holding ponds related to the $100-million project.

Native fishermen and other protesters are seen making their way towards the edge of the water near the mouth of the Shubenacadie river to set eel traps as part of a protest against the Alton Natural Gas Storage project. In the background, heavy equipment is in the process of constructing salt brine holding ponds related to the $100-million project.

Truro Daily News

FORT ELLIS – A major legal battle is brewing if salt brine is released into the Stewiacke/Shubenacadie river system as planned, a Mi’kmaq representative said, during a small protest at the edge of a riverbank Wednesday morning.

“Once we drop that first trap, then that is our treaty fishing grounds of the Mi’kmaq nation of the Shubenacadie district,” said spokeswoman Cheryl Maloney, as several native fishermen made their way through a patch of long, swampy grass to place their eel traps in the water.

“Once we drop these traps, if they want to interfere and infringe with us they have to deal with the courts and they have to justify to a very high standard of justification why they’re infringing on the rights of the Mi’kmaq First Nation,” she said.

Maloney’s reference is in regard to plans by AltonNatural Gas Storage to pump salt brine into the river system as part of a $100-million project that proposes creating three storage facilities for natural gas from underground salt caverns in the area.

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That project also includes mixing fresh water from the Stewiacke River with the salt being removed to form a brine that is to be pumped through a pipeline system from the caverns to holding ponds under construction at Fort Ellis near the mouth of the Stewiacke and Shubenacadie rivers.

However, concern has been expressed by First Nations representatives, fishing association members and some local residents, that the salt brine could endanger fish stocks in the water system, including such endangered species as striped bass and salmon.

Company president David Birkett has said precautions are being taken to ensure the eco-system and its fish stocks will not be harmed and extensive monitoring will be ongoing once the project gets underway.

 

As large excavators and bulldozers toiled nearby at the construction site of the holding ponds, a protest group of about 20 people, primarily from the Shubenacadie (Indian Brook) band, held a smudging ceremony and staked out their territory by raising the Mi’kmaq First Nations and warrior flags.

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“It is a very significant, historically archeological position,” Maloney said. “This is our traditional hunting and fishing river. You know, we won the Simon case about hunting and fishing. The treaty was about this actual location of the Shubenacadie band of Indians,” she said, of the 1985 Supreme Court of Canada case between James Matthew Simon vs. the Queen, that upheld a 1752 treaty guaranteeing native fishing and hunting rights.

“And the royal proclamation said you keep peace with us and we won’t interfere with your hunting and fishing as usual. We won’t impede or infringe on your right to hunt and fish,” she said, of the original treaty.

 

“And so we’re going to put our traps there and claim our treaty fishing area,” she said.

As numerous members of the group made their way to the river, which feeds directly in to the Minas Basin and ultimately the Bay of Fundy, they were approached by a representative from the construction site, who said his only purpose was to ensure no one was in danger from the working equipment.

“As long as they’re safe,” said Jim Bruce, the security advisor for the site. “They’re exercising their rights. Everybody’s happy with that.”

 

Maloney said the eel traps will be left in the water “indefinitely” and she told Bruce that fisherman will return to check on them once a day for as long as they are there.

Brandon Maloney, fisheries manager with the Indian Brook band, said he fishes eel, bass and other species from the river system and he does not accept the company’s position that the project will not pose a danger to the fish stocks.

“Oh yeah, definitely, I think it will have a negative impact on everything in there,” he said. “There’s so much life, it’s just going to have a big, negative impact. So we’re doing what we can to stop it.”

 

 

First Nations, residents slow traffic on Nova Scotia highway to protest gas project

Protesters show their opposition to the construction of a natural gas STORAGE FACILITY near Stewiacke, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS) Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/first-nations-residents-slow-traffic-on-nova-scotia-highway-to-protest-gas-project-1.2033440#ixzz3EyW0Yaev

Protesters show their opposition to the construction of a natural gas STORAGE FACILITY near Stewiacke, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Oct 2, 2014

Mi’kmaq protesters and residents of a rural community slowed traffic on a Nova Scotia highway Wednesday in a bid to stop construction of a natural gas storage facility they fear will contaminate local waterways.

Organizer Cheryl Maloney said about 100 people lined Highway 102 near Stewiacke to hand out pamphlets and wave placards as part of a peaceful protest about 60 kilometres north of Halifax.

Maloney said First Nation bands want the $100-million project stopped because they say there hasn’t been enough consultation with native and non-native residents.

“Nova Scotians just don’t know what’s happening and people that live right next to where they’re plowing and building the brine facilities, they don’t even know,” she said in a telephone interview from the site of the protest as car horns blared in the background.

“We need an injunction and need people to come out and be able to say, ‘We don’t want our ecosystem destroyed.’ ”

Alton Natural Gas Storage, a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas (TSX:ALA), wants to store natural gas in three underground salt caverns that will be about 1,000 metres underground.

The company plans to drill into the salt formations and pump in water from the nearby Shubenacadie River to dissolve the salt, with the leftover brine water being pumped back into the river system.

The company’s website says drilling for the first cavern started last month.

Alton president David Birkett issued a statement Wednesday saying the company has been in regular contact with Mi’kmaq for the past eight years and it is open to more meetings.

The environmental assessment process required consultation with First Nations, he said, adding that the company met with the chiefs from Millbrook and Indian Brook in 2006, conducted two Mi’kmaq ecological studies in 2006 and 2012, met with the Native Council of Nova Scotia in 2007 and hosted a site tour for Mi’kmaq-owned businesses in 2009.

More recently, the company provided updates at an open house in 2011 and invited the Native Council of Nova Scotia to provide submissions to the environmental assessment process in February 2013. Meetings were also held with the Mi’kmaq in June, August and earlier this month, he said.

Protesters show their opposition to the construction of a natural gas STORAGE FACILITY near Stewiacke, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Protesters show their opposition to the construction of a natural gas STORAGE FACILITY near Stewiacke, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“Our company has worked hard to bring the benefits of natural gas storage to Nova Scotians in a safe, responsible and sustainable manner,” Birkett said in the statement.

Nova Scotia’s Environment Department has said it is continuing to consult with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs on the project.

It added that the company still requires permits from Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment before it can begin using a brine storage pond at its site.

Alton said it also implemented mitigation measures to ensure the project wouldn’t affect fish in the rivers, something Maloney said she doesn’t trust to protect threatened stocks of striped bass.
Alton says salt caverns have been used to store natural gas in Canada since the 1960s.

The storage facility in Nova Scotia will be used to stabilize the province’s supply of natural gas. The gas from the caverns would be linked by pipeline to the nearby Maritimes and Northeast pipeline, which extends from Nova Scotia to the northeastern United States.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/first-nations-residents-slow-traffic-on-nova-scotia-highway-to-protest-gas-project-1.2033440#ixzz3EyUgRjLw