Kahnawake Mohawks defy injunction

Defiant in the face of recent injunctions Kahnawake Mohawks add cement roadblocks at the entrance to the rail line blockade on their territory across the Mercier Bridge from Montreal, Quebec. February 25, 2020. Photograph by Michael Bramadat-Willcock

The Mohawks of Kahnawake have no intention of dismantling a rail blockade on their territory near Montreal despite an injunction issued on Tuesday that one official called a “provocation.”

Defiant yet seemingly calm Kahnawake Mohawks continued to add cement barriers and bring in supplies to the blockade site.

People came and went from the scene of the blockade. Supporters chatted with Peacekeepers – the Kahnawake Mohawk police force – who were on site.

“Another day, another injunction” said one supporter on the ground. Several freight trucks honked in support as they passed by the blockade.

The Kahnawake blockade, which has restricted freight and commuter train traffic between downtown Montreal and the South Shore since early February, is in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the planned Coastal GasLink pipeline that would cut through their traditional territory in northern British Columbia.

“People are still quite clear that they want to continue the blockade in support of the Wet’suwet’en chiefs,” Kenneth Deer, secretary of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake, told National Observer in a phone interview.

More Wet’suwet’en solidarity protests sprung up in various locations across Canada on Tuesday, a day after Ontario police moved on a weeks-long blockade by Tyendinaga Mohawks near Belleville that had shut down a major transport route between Toronto and Ottawa and Montreal.

“The whole issue has always been imposition of the will of Canada onto Indigenous peoples and their territory. We have to continue to resist,” Deer said.

Deer said that land is central to the context of conflicts between Indigenous peoples and government in Canada more broadly.

“All of these flashpoints are always about land. It’s our land. It’s our territory. How did all that land become theirs? How did it all become Canada’s?,” Deer said.

“Another day, another injunction” said supporter on the ground at Montreal area blockade. Several freight trucks honked in support as they passed by the blockade.

The prospect of a drawn out confrontation on Mohawk Territory in Quebec brings back painful memories in the province.

The 1990 Oka Crisis, also called the Mohawk Resistance, was a dispute over territory between the Kanesatake Mohawks and the Town of Oka, northwest of Montreal.

Oka planned to develop a golf course and condominiums on land that includes Mohawk burial grounds in an area called the Pines.

The Crisis lasted 78 days, involving Mohawk warriors, the Sûreté du Québec and the Canadian Army. SQ Corporal Marcel Lemay was the lone fatality.

Quebec police moved against several other disruptions on Tuesday, but not in Kahnawake. Injunctions were also issued against protests in Lennoxville in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec and Listuguj, in the Gaspé Peninsula.

Police arrested an estimated 20 people in Lenoxville as they attempted to dismantle a blockade erected on Tuesday morning.

In Listuguj, Mi’gmaq Wet’suwet’en supporters refused to leave after police approached their barricades on a railway line between Quebec and New Brunswick.

Solidarity protests also slowed down traffic during rush hour in Montreal.

Earlier on Tuesday Premier François Legault implied that the Sûreté du Québec provincial police force has been working on a plan to dismantle the barricades but did not provide specifics.

“I trust the Sûreté du Québec to take all steps necessary to act with the Peacekeepers,” Legault said at a Montreal event.

Legault has also stated that some of the Mohawks in Kahnawake are armed and mentioned the Oka Crisis. However no weapons were visible at the site of the blockade and Mohawks categorized the Premier’s statement as inflammatory.

Kahnawake Mohawks stand guard as a man speaks with a Peacekeeper at the entrance to the main rail line blockade on their territory across the Mercier Bridge from Montreal, Quebec. Blockades in Support of Wet’suwet’en have impeded rail movement between Montreal and the South Shore. February 25, 2020. Photograph by Michael Bramadat-willcock

 

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is considering challenging the injunction, and has indicated its own police force has no intention of enforcing it.

“First and foremost, we must make it clear to our own people that this injunction will not be executed on this territory,” Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton said in a statement.

He said it was “truly unfortunate” that Canadian Pacific sought the injunction, which he said “will only add to the problems at hand.”

”History reminds us that the proper approach to addressing issues is through dialogue and discussion – not by sending in police, he said”

The provisional injunction was granted in response to a request from CP Rail by Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel Pinsonnault.

Deer said that the injunction came as a surprise to him since he felt that their previous relationship with the railway had been positive.

He said Kahnawake Mohawk supporters intend to hold their ground and continue the blockade until Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia indicate they are satisfied that their demands have been met.

“They [the hereditary chiefs] want the tactical unit of the RCMP off their territory and they want the pipeline stopped while negotiations happen. That’s what they want and we’re here to support them to get to that point,” said Deer.

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Woos, who also goes by Frank Alec, told National Observer on Monday that the RCMP had said it would take 16 days for them to dismantle a temporary outpost.

Deer said that it is Canada and not the Wet’suwet’en who are breaking the law by moving forward with the Coastal GasLink pipeline project without consent from the hereditary chiefs.

“People like to talk about the rule of law. The rule of the Supreme Court says that the land belongs to the hereditary chiefs […] It belongs to them,” said Deer.

Deer said that the Mohawks of Kahnawake are sympathetic to the people manning the barricades in B.C. and to the Wet’suwet’en chiefs themselves.

“It’s unceded territory. So that’s the rule of law and it’s Canada that’s violating that rule by imposing [this pipeline] on Wet’suwet’en territory without the consent of the chiefs who are the title holders of that land,” he said.

“We’re hoping that negotiations in B.C. will come to a settlement,” said Deer. SOURCE

RELATED:

Mohawks blast Quebec premier for false, ‘dangerous’ claims that Kahnawake protesters are armed with AK-47s

 

Alberta oilsands mine in public interest despite ‘significant adverse’ effects: panel

In a colonial neoliberal system economic development always is given priority over human rights and earth rights. We need to change everything.

An oil worker holds raw sand bitumen near Fort McMurray, on July 9, 2008.An oil worker holds raw sand bitumen near Fort McMurray, on July 9, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

A federal-provincial panel says a proposed northeastern Alberta oilsands mine would be in the public interest, even though it would likely significantly harm the environment and Indigenous people.

Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd. aims to build the $20.6-billion Frontier mine near Wood Buffalo National Park in two phases.

READ MORE: UNESCO gives Canada new deadline to preserve Wood Buffalo National Park

Its total capacity would be 260,000 barrels of oil a day. More than 290 square kilometres of land would be disturbed.

Teck has said it aims to start producing oil in 2026, with the mine lasting for more than four decades.

“While the panel has concluded that the project is in the public interest, project and cumulative effects to key environmental parameters and on the asserted rights, use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, and culture of Indigenous communities have weighed heavily in the panel’s assessment,” said the report released Thursday.

It said the project would likely result in significant adverse effects to wetlands, old-growth forests and biodiversity, as well as to Indigenous people in the area.

“The proposed mitigation measures have not been proven to be effective or to fully mitigate project effects on the environment or on Indigenous rights, use of lands and resources, and culture.”

READ MORE: Mikisew Cree First Nation official says Frontier oilsands mine deal includes vote on future development

The panel’s report includes several dozen recommended conditions for Teck and the federal and provincial governments.

They include mitigating harm to wildlife, monitoring pollutants and taking feedback from nearby First Nations into account.

But the panel also said there are economic benefits. Over the project’s expected lifespan, the federal government could expect to reap $12 billion in taxes and Alberta could rake in $55 billion, with another $3.5 billion in municipal property taxes, it said. SOURCE

RELATED:

Tsilhqot’in Nation appeals to U.N. to support its fight against Taseko Mines drilling program
B.C. mining company seeks injunction that could set stage for showdown with First Nation

Nova Scotia judge grants temporary injunction against Mi’kmaw water protectors, supporters


The entrance to the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project site in Fort Ellis, N.S./Photo by Stephen Brake

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has granted the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project company a temporary injunction against a Mi’kmaw water protector and his supporters currently occupying the entrance to the company’s property in Fort Ellis, N.S.

Justice Gerald Moir has ordered that Dale Poulette, Rachael Greenland-Smith and others at the site cannot block access to Alton Gas employees and contractors so the company can make repairs to its facilities located along the Shubenacadie riverbank near Stewiake, N.S.

“Perhaps the situation will change when the application for a final injunction is heard. But for the present motion, there is no evidence to support the occupation of Fort Ellis lands by Mr. Poulette, Ms. Greenland-Smith or others,” Justice Moir said in court.

Alton Natural Gas Storage Project is a subsidiary of Altagas, an energy company based in Alberta. The company has proposed to store natural gas in underground salt caverns in Middle Stewiake.

In order to create the underground caverns, the company wants to flush out and dissolve the salt by using water from the nearby Shubenacadie River. The salt water mixture, or brine, would be stored in a holding pond located along the riverbank. The company would then release the brine into the tidal river that would carry it out to the Bay of Fundy.   MORE

RCMP on sidelines as TransCanada bulldozes Wet’suwet’en land


Brenda Michell, Unist’ot’en house member, surveyed damage to a Unist’ot’en trapline, bulldozed through on Jan. 27, 2019. Photo by Michael Toledano

A subsidiary of Calgary-based energy company TransCanada bulldozed through traplines and personal property from two different clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation last week, while the RCMP enforced an interim injunction requested by the company so that it could proceed with construction. Some Wet’suwet’en members said the RCMP illegally prevented them from entering their own territories, violating the nation’s rights.

“They bulldozed through one of our traplines, pulled them out and clearcut the area,” Freda Huson, spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en House, told National Observer on the phone Monday morning. “The police told us the interim injunction against us overrides the traplines. The injunction says we can’t come within 10 metres of the work area, but our traps are outside of the 10 metres.”

Hereditary chiefs and some other members of the nation have questioned the validity of the interim injunction, since the company used support from contested leadership, as evidence of consent. Wet’suwet’en leaders, hereditary chiefs, matriarchs, spokespeople and community members, continue to demand that they are the only authority over their traditional territories, through a governance system that was also recognized and upheld in the Supreme Court of Canada in ‘Delgamuukw v. British Columbia.’ MORE

RELATED:

Canada Hates Indigenous People

 

The Unist’ot’en Movement, Not the RCMP, Has the Law on Its Side

The facts about aboriginal rights and title support the Wet’suwet’en peoples in their pipeline protest.

Land-Defenders.png
The Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their supporters attempt to stop RCMP officers from enforcing an injunction. Photo by Michael Toledano.

The people defending the land are comprised of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their people, who want to ensure that their lands are protected so they can continue to practise their rights to hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering, and exercise their right to clean air and water and a healthy environment. Pipelines, they say, are a threat to these rights that the Wet’suwet’en people value.

Neither the elected chief and band councils that support the pipeline, nor the federal or provincial governments, nor Coastal GasLink ever obtained the consent of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters. And that’s what’s at issue here. MORE

RELATED:

There are two kinds of Indigenous governance structures, but Canada has been listening to just one

Gidimt’en in northern B.C. anticipating RCMP action over anti-pipeline camp

First Nations group is calling for support as it anticipates enforcement of court injunction order


Cody Merriman, who carries the name Wedlidi, in the cook tent at the Gidimt’en access point camp constructed in northern B.C. to oppose the construction of a natural gas pipeline. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

Dozens of Indigenous people and their supporters have set up camp in a remote part of northern B.C., using a strategic access point to control who can get into the territory, as RCMP officers set up nearby.

The camp was built following an interim injunction from the B.C. Supreme Court in December to support Coastal GasLink with starting construction on a nearly 700-kilometre pipeline through the territory.

Coastal GasLink has said it needs access to the area as soon as possible to meet construction deadlines for its role in an estimated $40-billion natural gas pipeline and transformation plant.

The Gitimd’en are one of five clans that make up the Wet’suwet’en. In total, there are 22,000 square km of Wet’suwet’en traditional territory in this northern region of B.C., an area that was part of the landmark Delgamuukw case where the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the Indigenous nation’s land rights and title had never been extinguished. MORE

2nd camp set up to block pipeline company’s access to Wet’suwet’en land

B.C. judge granted a temporary injunction for access by Coastal GasLink on Friday


Freda Huson speaking to supporters outside the Prince George courthouse before a hearing last week regarding the injunction application made by Coastal GasLink. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

A second checkpoint has been put up on a remote B.C. forestry road to block construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, days after a court ordered that the first one must stop preventing the company from accessing the road and a bridge.

An interim injunction order from a B.C. court last Friday ordered the individuals at the Unist’ot’en camp, a self-described re-occupation of Wet’suwet’en land, to stop impeding Coastal GasLink from gaining access to the logging road and bridge it argues is on a critical path it needs to access as part of pipeline construction.

The pipeline is part of an estimated $40 billion natural gas project slated for construction in B.C. The nearly 700 km long pipeline is meant to transport natural gas from northeastern B.C. to a liquefied natural gas plant slated for construction in the north coast community of Kitimat.  MORE

 

Judge rules Unist’ot’en gate must come down for pipeline

An Indigenous camp was ordered Friday to remove a gate that’s blocking a bridge in northwestern B.C. and holding up a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline project.

Judge Marguerite Church of the B.C. Supreme Court sided with Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp., which filed an injunction to get construction going on the $40-billion LNG Canada build.

“People were crying but I feel emboldened because we are getting so much support,” said Warner Naziel of the Indigenous Unist’ot’en Camp – a land-based healing centre on Wet’suwet’en traditional territory south of Houston, B.C. MORE