The Wolastoq Grand Council outlined it’s concerns over the proposed Energy East pipeline in Fredericton on Monday.
The council, which claims indigenous title over lands and waters across the entire St. John River watershed, joined a growing list of opponents to the project.
“We are not allowing the pipeline to come through our homeland. It’s not going to happen,” said Hart Perley of the Maliseet Nation at Tobique.
Grandmothers and clan mothers including Perley took part in the event and said the pipeline would cross over 200 bodies of water in their territory.
“If there’s a major spill it will destroy the entire water system because this is the St. John watershed,” said Alma Brooks of the Maliseet Nation at St. Mary’s. “It’s a watershed and everything is connected, and it will destroy the life of this river.”
The chief of the council said they are not taking a scientific or economic position on the matter.
“Our values are collected spiritually to the land, water and air and we follow the original instructions from the big mystery to protect and preserve our homeland,” said Council Chief Ron Tremblay.
Brian Gallant’s Liberal government has been a vocal supporter of the pipeline, which would carry Alberta bitumen all the way to Saint John, a fact is not lost on council elders.
“The premier is adamant on bringing that toxic sludge through our homeland and we’re more adamant that it’s not going to happen,” said Perley.
TransCanada said it has had some correspondence with the council, but has dealt mostly with elected band councils. The company said it understands the deep concern over pipeline safety and hopes more concrete information can be shared.
“When you look at some of those major water crossings in New Brunswick, we’re going to be applying technologies such as horizontal directional drilling that ensures that the pipeline [is] many metres below the floor of the river,” said Energy East spokesperson Tim Duboyce.
Tremblay said there is nothing that will appease him and convince him to support the pipeline.
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