Alton Gas has filed an injunction to remove water protectors camped at its work site since 2017.
The company wants to store natural gas in underground caverns, which would mean releasing salty brine every day into the Sipekne’katik River.
The protectors say this will permanently damage the river and are concerned environmental regulations will not be met. They also say it is a violation of the Fisheries Act to release a deleterious substance into the river where the fish will be harmed.
Water protector Michell Paul says they are holding Alton Gas accountable.
“The law itself was not followed, so how can you petition to the courts to pursue a law against us, when we’re just doing what we are supposed to be doing?” said Paul.
The lawyer for Alton Gas, Robert Grant, was not available to comment at the hearing.
In court, he said the company was following all regulations and procedures and the injunction was about trespassing.
He said employees’ safety was threatened at the project site by protesters using profanity and being aggressive.
As a result, he said Alton Gas had no choice but to file an injunction to ensure workers’ safety and access.
The protectors say they are peaceful and have never threatened any of the workers.
They say they are protecting a river that is historically significant, has been traditionally fished and used as a transportation route for generations.
Doreen Bernard is one of the grassroots grandmothers opposed to the project. She hopes regulations will be enforced to protect the environment.
But in the meantime, she says they are following traditional law.
“We are not trespassers on our own land. This is unceded Mi’kma’ki and we have to protect the waters,” she said.
Treaty rights were also challenged by Grant. He said rights cannot be upheld by individuals.
But the protector’s lawyer, James Klaassen, said treaty rights were being exercised on behalf of the community.
“They are doing it on behalf of the collective and asked to do so by the collective,” said Klassen, “and so, in that sense, they do have a right and an ability and in this case a duty to do it.”
The protectors are hopeful the court will consider treaty laws.
“We look forward to the next court date and …asserting our treaty and title on the Sipekne’katik River,” said Paul.
The judge’s decision is expected next week.