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Province House rally calls for Alton Gas to pack up and leave

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – This afternoon about a hundred people gathered at Province House. They did so in support of the Mi’kmaw people who are determined to stop Alton Gas from releasing large amounts of brine in the Shubenacadie RIver.

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“Our message is ‘stop Alton Gas now.’ The permits have no jurisdiction with the Mi’kmaq, we want those permits to be cancelled, we want Alton Gas to pack up and leave,” Michelle Paul told the crowd. Paul is one of the many people who have been present at the proposed brine release site along the Shubenacade River on a daily basis.

“We will take ownership of the river, we will be protecting that river, and we will not go away,” said Paul. “We will be at the site every day. We will be building, and we will be sharing, and we are calling on everyone to come out and support us.”

Security guards and police hastily closed the gates when Paul next proceeded towards Province House, hoping to find a politician to talk to.

Alton Natural Gas Storage intends to create large caverns to store liquid gas near Stewiacke. While creating the caverns the company will dump brine in the tidal Shubenacadie river.

Residents, fishers, biologists,and members of the Sipekne’katik Band are opposed to the project because of  concerns about the brittle ecology of the river. Many also worry about the risks of living in close proximity to potentially explosive supplies of liquid gas stored underground.

As is so often the case in Nova Scotia, residents were told little of the company’s plans beforehand. Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Sipekne’katik Band were essentially ignored.

Among the protesters was Gary Burrill, leader of the Nova Scotia NDP.

“First Nation communities and local residents affected by this decision clearly say that they have not been adequately consulted,” Burrill told the Nova Scotia Advocate. “What’s missing is the democratic say-so, and the government has done a poor job.” 

Also present was Suzanne McNeil, president of the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council.

“Like everyone else we want the water and the land to be clean and healthy, as human beings at a very basic level we care about that. We need the kind of development that doesn’t pit our needs against each other, We need to feed our families, but we cannot do that at the expense of our environment,” said McNeil.    

The group that opposes the Alton Natural Gas Storage project has set up a teepee frame on a small island in the Shubenacadie River to mark it as traditional Mi’kmaw territory, and has set eel traps to assert Mi’kmaw treaty rights.

The group has also constructed a Treaty Truckhouse nearby, in accordance with rights protected in the treaties.

“The people here represent Halifax and beyond, to underline that it’s not just the local communities that are next to the river that care. People everywhere around the province are watching,” said Sadie Beaton, one of the organizers of today’s rally. 

The best way to support the defenders of the river is to come down to the Treaty Truckhouse location, Beaton added.

“There is stuff going on every day. The big push is for the weekend rallies. It’s very family-friendly place to be,” she said.

For updates and events along the Shubenacadie River, join the Facebook official page.