Canada natives vow to fight protest ban

Date of publication: 
6 January 2014

An indigenous group in Canada has vowed to continue to fight for the right to protest against fracking activities on traditional lands in the northern province of Alberta.

The pledge by Lubicon Lake Nation comes as a Calgary court granted last month Penn West Petroleum Ltd – an oil and gas production company – an injunction that effectively shut down a three-week protest by the group.

Prior to the injunction, people living in an area about 450 km north of Edmonton were holding peaceful rallies against a new fracking site between Alberta’s Sawn and Haig lakes.

The First Nation group has filed an appeal against the injunction, promising to fight the court order on constitutional grounds. The group argues that the court failed to consider fundamental aboriginal rights to traditional territory when granting the ban.

“The decision is just absolutely egregious. It goes so above and beyond what’s allowable that we really had no choice but to appeal that decision,” said Garret Tomlinson with the Lubicon Lake Nation.

“[We’re] not going to stand by while oil companies and governments from outside benefit from Lubicon land and resources while they are essentially living in Third World conditions,” said Tomlinson, adding, “They’re stuck in poverty. So there’s absolutely no benefit from these projects.”

Residents say that more than CAD 14 billion worth of oil and gas have been extracted from their territory without consent.

“This is our land until the Government of Canada enters into an agreement with us.” said Chief Barnard Ominayak in a statement.

“Penn West, the province of Alberta, and the courts cannot simply choose to ignore our inherent rights and assist industry at the expense of our land and our people,” he added.