According to a group of Mi’kmaw grandmothers, resisting Alton Gas isn’t a matter of money or politics — it’s a matter of sacred responsibility.
The women are and always have been the water protectors, they said, as they put the company on notice at a Monday morning press conference.
“This is our sacred duty as life-givers to protect the water for those that don’t have a voice,” said Dorene Bernard with Grassroots Grandmothers Circle.
“For our own children and grandchildren and future generations but also for the swimmers and the flyers and the four-legged, the winged ones.”
If completed, an Alton Gas project currently in the works would store natural gas in an underground facility by the Sipekne’katik (Shubenacadie) River, and in the process, release tens of thousands of tonnes of brine into its waters. The site lies on unceded Indigenous land, roughly 60 kilometres northeast of Halifax.
The project has been granted environmental approval from the Province of Nova Scotia, and the federal government will regulate it to manage potential threats to the ecosystem and human health.
But the women say it does not have Indigenous consent, has not met legal consultation requirements and is not welcome.
“There isn’t enough money in the world to defeat the sacred. There isn’t enough money in the world to buy us off,” said Elizabeth Marshall of Eskasoni First Nation.
“There is not one man on Earth that can remove my authority that was given to me by the grandmothers, by my nation, through ceremony on behalf of Creator and the ancestors.”
Last month, Alton Gas went to court with an application to have land and water defenders removed from their work site in Stewiacke, N.S. They’ve been occupying a homemade cabin at the edge of the site and using trespassing as a peaceful form of resistance.
WATCH: Protesters block entrance at Alton Gas site
Alton’s application is scheduled to be heard in court on Tuesday.
In a written statement to Global News, Alton Gas spokeswoman Lori Maclean acknowledged the press conference held on Monday and said the company “appreciate(s) that there are varied perspectives on the Alton project.”
She pointed to years of study indicating that the project can be done safely and monitoring measures the company will take to ensure minimal harm is done to the ecosystem.
The grandmothers, who served the eviction notice in conjunction with the Treaty Beneficiary Association of the Mi’kmaw People, are calling on Nova Scotians to implore their MPs to intervene in the project and sign a petition calling for its end.