Bigstone Cree Nation Blocks Roads, Denies Access to Oil and Gas Companies

The Bigstone Cree First Nation wrote a letter intending to install gates to and from the community to control who comes in or out. (Terry Reith/CBC)

Chief plans toll to access natural resources

By Black Powder | RPM Staff, March 14, 2017

Bigstone Cree Nation Chief Gordon Auger is taking action against off-reserve industrial operators in the Wabasca area.

On March 10, the First Nation in Northern Alberta, posted a list of multinational companies on its website that would not be allowed access to the territory as of Monday, March 13th.

Companies on the no-entry list include:

  • CNRL
  • Cenovus
  • Husky
  • Laricina
  • Alberta Pacific Ltd.
  • BonaVista
  • TransCanada
  • Banister
  • Tolko
  • West Fraser
  • All Logging Trucks
  • All Star Contracting
  • Exact Oilfield

Read: the full entry/no-entry list here

According to CBC News, Bigstone Cree Nation issued a letter to Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan on Feb. 20. The letter cited six reasons roads would be blocked, including “the abandonment of the local economy and local companies,” along with a lack of meaningful consultation between the band and oil and gas companies and concerns around water protection.

The letter said the community was planning on installing gates to control all traffic going through the reserve — and all oil and gas traffic heading to work.

Wind Speaker reports, at about noon on Monday, some vehicles belonging to multinational oil, gas and forestry companies were being denied access at turn-around points established on Highways 813 and 754 on Bigstone Cree Nation land.

However, on Sunday, Chief Auger told Windspeaker.com it was never his intention to turn around vehicles belonging to multi-national corporations as of Monday.

Auger says he didn’t plan this action and steps may have been taken due to misinterpretation of his directive by the management team.

Toll booths

Auger said the direction he gave to council was to determine where toll booths should be located. Then, he said, signs will be put up indicating toll booth locations and when toll-taking would begin. Augers says this will be the item on the agenda when he meets with council Tuesday morning.

He also contends that band members have the right to take action.

“They’re just practicing right now,” he said. “It’s a good exercise, but I don’t think they should be sending people back, just maybe let them know … maybe a public awareness.”

A Public Notice on the band’s website states, on March 14, 2017, Bigstone Cree Nation maintains their “STAND” that originates from the Treaty signed in 1899. This is not a blockade but rather to have toll stations set up on highway 754 and 813 to monitor who is accessing and removing resources from Bigstone Cree Traditional Land.

All traffic will be allowed through for the time being, but the monitors will remain at the sites until further notice.

Auger has said he’s not worried about companies pulling out of the area.

“We’re tired of living in a third-world situation,” he said. “Nobody should have control of our land. It’s our land.”

The border security manned toll stations not only allow the band to control who comes in and out of the territory but could also generate revenue for the community.

Protestors block Highway 754 at the Bigstone Cree First Nation as part of the Idle No More movement. The two hour blockade near Wabasca-Desmarais included a second road block on Hwy 813. PHOTO: DWAYNE YELLOWKNEE

Travis Gladue says Chief Auger is shutting out off-reserve industry without having gone to the membership first.

“He never even consulted with the membership. He never even held a band meeting. The last band meeting he had was Nov. 30 and there was a motion to have him removed,” said Gladue.

Minutes from the Calling Lake general membership meeting, provided by Gladue, indicate that a motion was made to remove Auger as “the lead negotiator for industry for Bigstone Cree Nation effective immediately. The motion was passed by a majority vote.

Gladue says the chief’s latest stand with industry will only hurt band members.

“CNRL already said they’ll issue a statement that they provide lots of jobs, lots of work to a lot of local companies that are First Nations and Metis and now they’re very, very upset and these are Bigstone members and they don’t understand why Gordon is doing what he’s doing,” said Gladue. “Because now they can’t go to work.”

Gladue alleges that Auger is wanting to charge industry 15 per cent royalty to access natural resources from the First Nation’s land. Gladue says industry is refusing to pay.

Kyle Ferguson, a spokesperson for the ministry of Indigenous relations, said the government will “make every effort to prevent the establishment of toll gates.”

“The Alberta government is aware of the potential construction of highway toll gates near Bigstone Cree Nation and is working diligently with Bigstone Chief and Council to resolve the issue promptly,” he said

“Our intent is to resolve this issue peacefully and expeditiously. Industry in the area has been notified and RCMP officers have been dispatched to monitor the situation and to alert drivers to ensure the safety of motorists and members of the First Nations,” said Ferguson in an email.

Bigstone Cree Nation is 300 km north of Edmonton Alberta. 

Sources:

cbc.ca

Windspeaker.com

Kellie Leitch Pledges To ‘Lock Up’ Unlawful Pipeline Protesters

Kellie Leitch arrives at the Conservative summer caucus retreat in Halifax on Sept. 13. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Kellie Leitch arrives at the Conservative summer caucus retreat in Halifax on Sept. 13. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Conservative leadership hopeful Kellie Leitch is pledging to “lock up” and monitor Canadians who unlawfully protest pipeline projects if she becomes prime minister.

Leitch made the promise in her latest incendiary press release, sent hours before a bilingual debate in Moncton, N.B., in which she affirmed support for the Energy East pipeline project.

“We will not tolerate acts of vandalism or violence from those who would illegally stand in the way of the economic prosperity of our people,” the Tory MP said in the release. “There is a place for legitimate protest, but we will lock up the agitators and activists who resort to vandalism and violence when they do not get their way.”

Leitch took to Facebook to unveil a so-called “five-point plan” to promote natural resource projects, including unspecified stiffer penalties for unlawful protesters.

She promised to create a “new force” comprised of “specialized components” of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada Revenue Agency and Global Affairs Canada. Such a group would “coordinate investigations, freeze bank accounts, and lay charges” against illegal protesters.

And she also pledged to “classify environmental lobbying as a political activity to ensure transparency in funding and get international money out of the process.” Canadian charitable foundations can currently maintain their tax exempt status as long as no more than 10 per cent of their resources are dedicated to political activities.

“We will lock up the agitators and activists who resort to vandalism and violence when they do not get their way.”

The release comes as Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr continues to face questions over his suggestion the Canadian military could be used to quash illegal protests over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. He made his comments to Alberta business leaders last week.

“If people choose for their own reasons not to be peaceful, then the government of Canada, through its defence forces, through its police forces, will ensure that people will be kept safe,” Carr said.

Jim Carr, right, Minister of Natural Resources, speaks as Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, appear at a press conference in Richmond, B.C., on Sept. 27. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Jim Carr, right, Minister of Natural Resources, speaks as Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, appear at a press conference in Richmond, B.C., on Sept. 27. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The minister later told CBC News those remarks weren’t meant to be a “warning” to protesters.

In question period Friday, B.C. NDP MP Randall Garrison urged the defence minister to remind his colleague the “federal government has no such authority to use our military against pipeline protests.” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Liberals see peaceful protest as a “cornerstone” of Canadian democracy.

Elizabeth May ready to go to jail fighting pipeline

The $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan project is expected to yield more protests from indigenous groups and climate change activists who argue the federal government lacks the “social license” to greenlight the project.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told the Huffington Post Canada she’s willing to be arrested fighting the project.

“If there are blockades as construction begins, I’m more than prepared to be there to block construction and be arrested and go to jail,” May said in an interview last week. “This is not an issue where you compromise.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/12/06/kellie-leitch-pipeline-protesters-lock-up_n_13462212.html?ncid=fcbklnkcahpmg00000001