Tag Archives: Protesters

Spy Agency says federal Trans Mountain pipeline purchase seen as ‘Betrayal’ by many opponents

An Indigenous man raises his drum above his head as he and others are silhouetted while singing during a protest against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion in Vancouver on Tuesday May 29, 2018. (CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada’s spy agency says many members of the environmental and Indigenous communities see the federal purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline as a betrayal, and suggests that could intensify opposition to expanding the project.

A Canadian Security Intelligence Service assessment highlights a renewed sense of indignation among protesters and clearly indicates the spy service’s ongoing interest in anti-petroleum activism.

The Canadian Press used the Access to Information Act to obtain a heavily censored copy of the June CSIS brief, originally classified top secret.

Civil liberties and environmental activists questioned the rationale for CSIS’s interest, given that opposition to the pipeline project has been peaceful.

CSIS spokeswoman Tahera Mufti stressed the spy service is committed to following the governing legislation that forbids it to probe lawful protest and dissent.

“While we cannot publicly disclose our investigative interests, we can say that it is important for the service to pose important analytical questions on these types of issues, such as the question of whether developments such as the purchase of a pipeline could give rise to a national-security threat to Canada’s critical infrastructure.”

Earlier this year, Kinder Morgan dropped plans to twin an existing pipeline that carries about 300,000 barrels of bitumen daily from Alberta to British Columbia. The federal government announced in late May it would buy the pipeline and related components for $4.5 billion.

The government intends to finance and manage construction of the second pipeline — which would increase the overall flow of bitumen to 890,000 barrels a day — and ultimately try to find a buyer.

The CSIS brief characterizes resistance to the pipeline project as a “developing intelligence issue.”

“Indigenous and non-Indigenous opponents of the project continue to highlight the increasing threats to the planet as a result of climate change and the incompatibility of new pipeline and oil sands projects with Canada’s 2015 commitment under the Paris Climate Accord,” the brief says. “At the same time, many within the broader Indigenous community view the federal government’s purchase and possible financing, construction and operation of an expanded bitumen pipeline as wholly incompatible with its attempts at Crown-Indigenous reconciliation.”

The pipeline acquisition and commitment to complete the project is therefore “viewed as a betrayal” by many within both the environmental and Indigenous communities, CSIS says.

“Indigenous opposition at the grassroots level remains strong. In response to the federal purchase, numerous Indigenous and environmental organizations have restated their commitment to prevent construction.”

The brief singles out the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, noting it has signatories from over 50 North American First Nations in its bid to halt the project. It also features a May quote from Canadian environmental organization Stand.earth that the decision “will haunt the Trudeau government.”

The intelligence brief was completed a little more than two months before the Federal Court of Appeal quashed government approval of the pipeline project due to inadequate consultation with Indigenous groups and failure to properly assess the effect of increased tanker traffic in the waters off British Columbia.

In the wake of the court ruling, the federal government ordered the National Energy Board to reassess the tanker issue and asked a former Supreme Court justice to oversee fresh consultations with Indigenous communities.

The CSIS brief notes there had been “no acts of serious violence” stemming from peaceful demonstrations and blockades at Trans Mountain facilities in British Columbia that resulted in the arrest of more than 200 people, or at smaller protests across the country.

However, the document includes a section titled “Violent Confrontations and Resource Development” that mentions past conflicts over shale-gas development in New Brunswick and a high-profile pipeline in North Dakota.

It is unclear, because of the redactions to the document, exactly what CSIS was looking at, said Josh Paterson, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, which has expressed strong concern about the spy service’s monitoring of activists.

In the information that has been released, there is no suggestion of a threat to national security or critical infrastructure, of clandestine activities or of violence in relation to the Trans Mountain project, Paterson said.

“While some opponents of the pipeline were arrested during protest for breaching a court order, that was a matter for police and the courts, and was done out in the open — it should not be a matter for our spy agency.”

Given past interest on the part of security and police officials, the CSIS brief is not surprising, said Tegan Hansen, a spokeswoman for Protect the Inlet, an Indigenous-led effort against the pipeline and tanker project.

But she is curious as to why the spy service document makes reference to sabotage and violent physical confrontations.

“I’m not sure why they’re trying to draw that connection with violence,” Hansen said. “I’d be interested to know. But it’s certainly not our intention to ever pursue violence.”

The Canadian Press, Nov 6. 2018

[SOURCE]

Teepees start to come down at Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp near Saskatchewan legislature

Tepees are seen at the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp near the Saskatchewan legislature, in Regina, in a June 27, 2018. (File photo CP)

Teepees are coming down at the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp on the grounds of the Saskatchewan legislature in Regina.

On Friday, Justice Ysanne Wilkinson ordered that the protest camp be dismantled after the government applied for an eviction order.

“Police are hereby authorized to arrest, or arrest and remove, any person” who is violating the order to vacate the camp, she said.

No deadline was specified in Wilkinson’s order to take the camp down.

The province went to court seeking an order to evict the protesters, arguing the camp violated bylaws and made it hard to maintain the land across from the legislature.

Regina police say they are now in talks with the government and protesters.

Fifteen teepees were standing in front of the Saskatchewan legislature building.

There had been 15 teepees in the camp at one point, but that number was down to 10 by Monday morning.

At least two of the tepees came down after the court order, while others were taken down for the annual Treaty 4 Gathering in Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask.

Protester Richelle Dubois says it’s disheartening to see the number of teepees shrink.

“It shows the province’s true colours and how they feel about First Nation children and communities,” she said.

Since late February, the campers have been protesting racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children in care.

The Canadian Press

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]

Saskatchewan Premier wants Police to remove Justice for Our Stolen Children camp

The Justice for Our Stolen Children camp has grown to nine teepees.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is backing calls for police to remove teepees that protesters have set up on the legislature grounds, forcing changes to Canada Day plans.

Moe says there are laws that cover the park surrounding the provincial legislature to ensure that it’s available to everyone.

“The fact (is) that the protests that we do see across the way are breaking laws here, and those laws should be enforced,” Moe said Thursday.

The Justice for Our Stolen Children camp was set up to protest racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children apprehended by child-welfare workers.

The camp started in late February and was dismantled early last week before being set up again June 21 with more teepees.

Bylaws prohibit overnight camping, placement of structures and burning wood and other combustibles in the park.

The Provincial Capital Commission said on Wednesday that it has had to make alterations to its Canada Day festivities, because the space where the camp is situated normally has a concert stage and beer gardens.

Regina police have said there’s no need to step in at this point, because a meeting is scheduled for Monday between the protesters and five government ministers in the town of Fort Qu’Appelle.

Camp protester Robyn Pitawanakwat said Thursday that she thinks there are laws being broken by pushing out peaceful protests.

“There are charter rights that are being put in violation when that happens,” she said. “Breaking the law is not just one sided in this regard. Bylaws are very minor and charter rights supersede those.”

Moe said it’s the government’s expectation that the teepees will be removed either before or after the meeting. As of Thursday morning, there were nine teepees at the camp.

“We continue to work with First Nations leaders across the province on the issues that have been raised just here,” Moe said. “If the teepees are removed previous to that (meeting), that would be positive as well.”

Pitawanakwat said there needs to be a focus on justice before the teepees are removed.

“We need families coming home,” she said. “We need to have children put back in biological family settings that are open and willing to take them.”

Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Protesters arrested, Tipi camp dismantled after more than 100 days in Wascana Park

Tipi camp dismantled after more than 100 days in Wascana Park

Several people arrested by Regina police on Monday at the “Justice for our Stolen Children” camp have been released without charges.

The move came as authorities dismantled the tipi in the park on Monday evening.

The camp’s sacred fire went out just after 7 p.m. Officials then took down the camp’s tipi, which was the last structure at the protest.

The rest of the camp was dismantled by police and government officials on Friday morning. Police said they would give campers 48 hours after the dismantling of the camp to extinguish their sacred fire and remove their tipi, but demonstrators decided on Sunday not to leave the scene.

“The agreement was made that the tipi would come down, and that was agreed upon by the campers, and today unfortunately that camp wasn’t taken down, so we’re here to assist with that.” Supt. Darcy Koch told the media.

The camp was erected 111 days ago in response to the acquittal of Gerald Stanley in the death of Colten Boushie, and the acquittal of Raymond Cormier in the death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine.

Members of the camp have said that they want to talk to government officials about their concerns. So far the two groups have not been able to come together for such a meeting.

Minister of Justice Don Morgan said the government expected the tipi to be removed on Sunday and that the park isn’t intended for overnight camping. Morgan said he wasn’t able to comment on the timing of the arrests, since it would be up to police to take those actions.

Morgan added that he didn’t want it to be a setback in the government’s relationship with First Nations in Saskatchewan. He said he will be reaching out to FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in the coming days, and has plans to travel to Red Pheasant First Nation.

According to Morgan, the government is still willing to meet with protestors about the issues raised at the camp.

“You don’t need to have a tent up in Wascana to have a meeting and reach out to government,” Morgan said.

Morgan said he wants to reach out to the campers in the coming days, but will wait until emotions aren’t as high.

CTV Regina

[SOURCE]