Protesters want to stop oil, gas exploration
By Laura Jean Grant – Cape Breton Post, September 14, 2012
AULDS COVE — Traffic moved slowly on both sides of the Canso Causeway for much of the day Friday as a group of people opposed to oil and gas exploration in Cape Breton continued a protest in Aulds Cove.
Led by representatives of Cape Breton First Nations communities and the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society, other concerned local residents are also taking part in the peaceful protest, which began Thursday and was expected to last until at least the end of today.
The protesters, approximately 40 in number, are opposed to oil and gas exploration in Cape Breton, in particular an oil-drilling operation planned by Petroworth Resources at Lake Ainslie. They handed out pamphlets of information and had a petition available for anyone interested in signing.
Ginny Marshall, a pipefitter from Chapel Island, said she’s seen first-hand the destruction oil and gas extraction can cause and doesn’t want to see it in Cape Breton.
“I couldn’t look my children in the eye and say ‘I cared more about the money than your future,’ so it’s more of a fight for our next generation. We need to secure our water for our children,” she said. “Water is sacred. Why are we trying to ruin it for a couple of dollars?”
Marshall said the ultimate goal of the protest is to stop oil and gas exploration in Cape Breton and to educate people about the risks of such developments. She said they’re welcoming anyone concerned to join their protest.
Rebecca Parkins, who lives next door to the proposed drill site in Lake Ainslie and has long been opposed to the Petroworth development, was among those who took up that invitation.
“They are trying to protect the waters and have asked all like-minded people to come down here today and we are here to support them just as they have been at our rallies to support us,” she said. “We really want people to know that First Nations is joining with the environmentalists and ordinary citizens who do not believe that this should be happening and in that joining we are going to grow bigger, our voice is going to get bigger.”
RCMP Const. Brad Anderson said officers, as well as some Department of Transportation staff, were on the scene Friday to ensure the safety of both the motoring public and the protesters.
“We do have members of the RCMP who are in pretty much constant conversation with the organizers of the event and co-operation is at a very high level. For instance there was a funeral process coming through from Mulgrave to Port Hawkesbury and the protesters shut down long enough to allow that to flow through unimpeded,” he said.
While vehicles were often lined in both directions, Anderson said for the most part traffic was moving slowly but smoothly. Motorists are advised to expect delays at the Canso Causeway while the protest is ongoing.
Exactly how long that will be was unclear Friday. Marshall was unsure how long the protest would last or what direction it would take but didn’t rule out a full blockade at the Canso Causeway at some point in the future in order to get action on the issue.
“We don’t want to upset people but if it comes down to it and this doesn’t help, then a full blockade will be set in place. We don’t want that but we will have to take those steps, just to say that we’re not kidding around,” she said. “We’re serious about this and we’ll take necessary steps of action to ensure that our water is protected. Mother Nature can’t speak for herself so somebody has to stand up for her.”
Petroworth president Neal Mednick could not be reached for comment Friday but stated last month that he is disappointed by the continued opposition to the operation and hopes once they demonstrate that the drilling can be done safely and without damaging the environment, that people will change their opinion.
Petroworth officials have indicated they hope to starting drilling in Lake Ainslie sometime this fall.
Posted on September 15, 2012, in Oil & Gas and tagged cape breton oil protest, Indigenous resistance, Mi’kmaq Warriors Society, oil and gas pipelines+Indigenous resistance. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.