Lubicon Lake Nation challenges fracking access to its land

Lubicon Lake Nation appeals protest-ending court injunction, Six-month court order stops protest in northern Alberta by CBC News, January 4, 2014

Members of the Lubicon First Nation protested fracking activities near Sawn and Haig Lakes in northern Alberta for about three weeks before a court-granted injunction shut them down. The Lubicon Lake Nation says it will continue to fight for the right to protest fracking on traditional lands in northern Alberta. They are challenging an injunction granted to Penn West Petroleum Ltd. by a Calgary court last month that effectively shut down a three-week protest by Lubicon members near Sawn and Haig Lakes. The order came after the company requested an injunction under Alberta’s Public Lands Act.

People who live in the area say they were peacefully rallying against a new fracking site between the two lakes. They say they use the land to hunt, fish and trap. The territory also has deep cultural, historical and environmental significance for the Lubicon people, said Garrett Tomlinson with the Lubicon Lake Nation.

“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 Tomlinson.

“[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,” he said. “They’re stuck in poverty. So there’s absolutely no benefit from these projects.”

Members of the community claim more than $14 billion worth of oil and gas has been taken from their territory without consent. Now, the Lubicon First Nation says it has filed a Notice of Appeal with Alberta’s Court of Appeal, and has promised to fight the court order on constitutional grounds – arguing the court failed to consider fundamental Aboriginal rights to traditional territory when making its order.

“This is our land until the Government of Canada enters into an agreement with us.” said Chief Barnard Ominayak in a press release. “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.” [Emphasis added]

Lubicon Lake Nation challenges fracking access to its land by Edmonton Journal, January 4, 2014, Edmonton Journal
The Lubicon Lake Nation says it has filed a notice of appeal to stop Penn West Petroleum Ltd., from accessing its traditional territory in northwestern Alberta. On Dec. 16, the Court of Queen’s Bench granted Calgary-based Penn West an injunction that allowed the company access to an oil hydraulic fracturing site. That injunction ended a peaceful three-week protest by the Lubicon Land Protectors, who had hoped to prevent the company from fracking near Sawn and Haig Lakes, a place the Lubicon people use for hunting, trapping and fishing. While Penn West had requested a one-week injunction under Alberta’s Public Lands Act, but “received a very expansive six-month order covering a wide swath of land,” the First Nation said in a news release Saturday, one day after it filed notice of appeal. “This is our land until the Government of Canada enters into an agreement with us,” Chief Bernard Ominayak said in the release.

“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.”

The Lubicon Lake Nation says it’s home to the longest unresolved land claim in Canada, and more than $14-billion worth of oil and gas has been extracted without its consent. Late last year, the First Nation filed an injunction against Penn West, seeking to stop all fracking activity on lands around Haig Lake, which was part of a proposed 1988 settlement to its land claim, a deal the Alberta government backed out of seven years later. [Emphasis added]

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