A strawbale house built as part of an Indigenous resistance camp in Nova Scotia was demolished Tuesday by the very company it opposed, Alton Gas.
In a Facebook live video, Mi’kmaq water protector and grandmother Dorene Bernard filmed the strawbale house, which stood at the entrance of the company’s worksite, being torn apart Tuesday afternoon. She said it was demolished within minutes.
“This is illegal,” Bernard says, the camera turning to posted plans of the Alton Gas project. “What they’re doing to our water is illegal.”
The Mi’kmaq water protectors have been occupying the area since 2016 because they believe the project violates treaty rights.
Alton Gas says the house stood on company property and was built without its permission.
The company says it’s building an underground facility to store natural gas that will keep fuel prices more stable for Nova Scotians in the winter, and produce fewer emissions than coal or oil. But the project would fill underground caverns with natural gas, flushing 3,000 tonnes of salt into the Shubenacadie River in the process.
“Disgusting. Deplorable. DO SOMETHING,” Ellen Page, who is from nearby Halifax, tweeted Tuesday afternoon, tagging the provincial government and Justin Trudeau.
Page has used her celebrity platform to advocate for Mi’kmaq water protectors, who contend they have not been adequately consulted on the project. They say it poses a threat to their water, fish habitat, wetlands, traditional activities, and rights and title.
Page visited the camp on Tuesday, posting a photo with Bernard.
She wrote on Instagram: “Humbled and honoured to have spent time with the extraordinary Dorene Bernard and other grassroots grandmothers and water protectors to learn more about how they are protecting the water and land from Alton Gas and the Nova Scotia government and the best ways to support.” She linked to group’s legal fund in her bio.
Page also posted a video of water protector Rebecca Moore saying the provincial government has not properly consulted Indigenous people on the Alton Gas project.
Last week, three Indigenous grandmothers were arrested at the Alton Gas site for disobeying a court injunction to remove the resistance camp. Alton Gas asked the court to grant the injunction so it could access the work site. The grandmothers were released without charge.
The Alton Gas stand-off may seem small, but it’s part of a much bigger Indigenous resistance across the Americas.
In Canada, Trudeau has faced criticism for promising reconciliation and nation-to-nation engagement with First Nations on issues including resource development, but not following through on that commitment.
Under his government, the RCMP enforced a similar injunction in BC in January, demolishing a Wet’suwet’en blockade that opposed an LNG pipeline, arresting 14 people. Charges against them were dropped this week.
Trudeau’s government also approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which was overturned last August in a court decision that found Indigenous groups were not adequately consulted.
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