Finally, some good news! After six years of Mi’kmaq-led resistance to the Alton Gas natural gas storage project, yesterday marked a major victory in the effort to stop the project and defend Mi’kmaq treaty rights.
The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia determined that the province did not adequately consult with Sipekne’katik First Nation. The ruling overturned the provincial approval for the project and ordered 120 days of consultation to begin after the COVID crisis has eased.
This court decision, paired with damning new evidence showing that this project would violate the Fisheries Act and infringe on treaty rights, is a major blow for this natural gas storage project and a big win for Indigenous rights.
Justice Frank Edwards said in his decision, “While there had been extensive consultations regarding the potential environmental impacts of the project, the core issue of Aboriginal title and treaty rights was never specifically engaged.”
He also said Nova Scotia’s Minister of Environment “committed palpable and overriding error when she concluded that the level of consultation was appropriate.”
Thanks to the tireless work of Mi’kmaq water protectors and people like you who supported them by visiting the Treaty Truckhouse on the Shubenacadie River, contacting your MLAs, and attending demonstrations, this is a major step forward in the work to stop this project.
While we’re not quite there yet, we are closer than ever to protecting sacred places and Indigenous rights and saying goodbye to Alton Gas forever. The Supreme Court has affirmed that treaty rights cannot be overlooked. Governments cannot proceed without the prior informed consent of Indigenous Peoples.
Robin Tress is a climate and social justice campaigner with the Council of Canadians.