KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Last October the Halifax Herald reported that preparations for the Goldboro LNG project were heating up. “A small town of about 5,000 will spring up virtually overnight in Goldboro, Guysborough County,” journalist Roger Taylor wrote.
This was just the first surprise. Next came the news that the Goldboro LNG construction work camp was to be 51% owned by Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq. A corporation owned by the 13 Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw communities, Wskijnu’k Mtmo’taqnuow Agency Ltd (WMA), was to hold their share of the work camp joint venture with the Black Diamond Group.
This was apparently the culmination of negotiations the previous year between Pieridae and Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO) that produced a Finalized Benefits Agreement between the company and the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.
“Apparently” is the operative word. While Pieridae and Black Diamond issued press releases and said a great deal, on the Mi’kmaq side there were no press releases. There were a couple of quotes expressing approval by the two chiefs who had apparently had some involvement in the negotiations, but that was all.
Then there was nothing. In the context of the just escalated battles over the Mi’kmaq moderate livelihood fishery, the whole thing seemed to just vanish. Not even Pieridae was talking about it.
Then outraged questions began to appear on Facebook pages frequented by Mi’kmaq. “We own a Man Camp ?!” But still no Mi’kmaq leadership stepped up to say anything about the project: whether it existed, or that they knew anything about it.
The questions continued to come up sporadically on social media. “Does anyone know about this WMA corporation?” Mi’kmaq women were discussing the issue among themselves.
These grassroots women began to speak more publicly around the time Pieridae’s billion dollar pitch was leaked. That pitch included claims of Mi’kmaq support, and of their participation in the work camp venture. That pitch was followed by German and Canadian activists sending an open letter to the government about the funding request.
Margie Ann Cook of Millbrook First Nation firmly rejected the man camp here in the Nova Scotia Advocate. She closed that article with this concise warning, “putting our women in further danger because of these “man camps” is not what reconciliation looks like, and neither is excluding our voices.”
This week Ducie Howe of Sipekne’katik First Nation shared her thoughts that Joan Baxter quoted in her Halifax Examiner article.
“Man camps along with environmental racism breed sexualization and violence against our people. What they do to the land and Waters they do to our Woman; we are one and the same.
“Temporary jobs or profit over lives are not worth it, especially considering that the rates of crime triple in small towns that have a sudden influx of 5000 workers, and that there has been and is a lack of will to investigate/ prosecute or find the MMIW&G. This I consider Canada’s genocidal policy still in effect!
“I was not consulted about this Goldboro LNG man camp coming into our unceded traditional territory of Mi’kma’ki.”
Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack told the Nova Scotia Advocate that it was because of opposition by Mi’kmaq women that he asked his fellow chiefs to end participation in the proposed Goldboro man camp. The 13 Chiefs are the voting board members of the Wskijnu’k Mtmo’taqnuow Agency holding corporation, and Sack made a motion at the April 23 Board meeting that the WMA be dissolved. The motion passed with ten chiefs voting.
Speaking to Mi’kmaq concerns over the proposed Goldboro camp, Pieridae spokesperson James Millar told the CBC just yesterday that with KMKNO and some of the chiefs, “We meet weekly and discuss all matters, such as the one you highlight.”
Considering the frequency of those consultations, the Nova Scotia Advocate called Millar and recounted what Chief Sack said about the motion to dissolve the WMA at the April 23 meeting. We asked for a comment and have not received a response.
Murky as ever, we all wait to see what the next chapter is in this saga of the Goldboro man camp. If anyone does know, they are not talking.
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