Mi’kmaq grandmothers arrested at Alton Gas site to launch title claim

Three Mi’kmaq grandmothers who were arrested for trespassing on a worksite last week are going to launch a title claim over the land they say is on unceded Mi’kmaq territory, where Alton Gas plans to build a natural gas storage facility.

The grandmothers’ lawyer, Michael McDonald, told the Nova Scotia Supreme Court Wednesday that the claim is based on the 1752 treaty with the Crown and the notice of motion is for an Aboriginal title claim for the lands currently being used by Alton Gas.

McDonald said an injunction will also be filed to prevent Alton Gas from doing further work along the Sipekne’katik River at Fort Ellis, while the title claim is being settled.

Meanwhile, the grandmothers — Thunderbird Swooping Down Woman, Kukuwes Wokis and Kiju Muin — signed a court order to abide by a temporary injunction that bars demonstrators from the work site.

Alton Gas plans to use water from the river to create large, underground storage caverns and protesters fear the 73-kilometre tidal river, which cuts through the middle of Nova Scotia, may be polluted.

For years Mi’kmaq water protectors and allies have occupied the area in an effort to stop the project.

The company and the Nova Scotia government maintain the project will be safe for fish and other wildlife in the river.

Mi’kmaw Elder Doreen Bernard said if the land and river are destroyed, “they’ll never be able to clean the water. So in Nova Scotia, we have a chance to keep that from coming here.”

Nova Scotia Green Party leader Thomas Trappenberg was present Wednesday and said he stands with the Mi’kmaq.

“We have actually treaties,” he said. “If you would just follow them, they clearly said you are welcome here as long as we share and keep our land for our, for our children.”

Justice Gerald Moir has scheduled Aug. 15 to consider the breach of the temporary injunction by the three women, while four dates have been set aside in December for the title claim motion.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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