Our answer: Of course.
The Mikisew Cree First Nation took their case to the Supreme Court of Canada this month, arguing that they have a right to be at the table for legislation relevant to their treaty rights, particularly environmental assessment, fisheries and navigable waters protection.
If successful, this precedent would forever change the way that Canadian governments consult First Nations. The reconciliation process hinges on respect for the sovereignty of First Nations, and legislating national policies absent First Nations leadership is a denial of that sovereignty.
As we continue to ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep the promise to make our environmental assessment process credible again, this court case reminds us that environmental assessments have never been adequate in terms of Reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.
Mary Gorman of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition (SOSS), speaks passionately for protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Pa’qtnkek Water Ceremony with Ethan Hawke, October 26, 2015.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 1:06PM EST
Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke says he considers Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq people to be his “neighbours,” and that they’ve inspired him to support a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
“You know, I have a place up in Nova Scotia,” Hawke said CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday. “There is a Mi’kmaq (reserve) right near my house.”
Hawke, who is currently on tour promoting his new book “Rules for a Knight,” said the nearby First Nations group reached out to ask him to support their cause.
“They contacted me and made me aware of what was happening in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and what they’re doing to protect it,” he said.
Along with other environmental groups, the Mi’kmaq are calling for a 12-year moratorium on drilling in the area.
They say the drilling could harm the fragile ecosystem and their traditional lands, and want a thorough environmental assessment before any operations continue.
Hawke joined the Mi’kmaq for a traditional water ceremony last month to honour the community’s relationship with their environment.
“You know, they’re an impressive group of people,” Hawke said. “I really like how they’re using their indigenous rights to help us all.”
Hawke owns a property in St. George’s Bay, N.S., often spends time there during the summer.
In October, he told The Canadian Press that the area is “an absolutely magical place.”
Hawke told Canada AM that he feels it’s important to protect the gulf not only for himself and the Mi’kmaq currently living there, but for future generations.
“I really wanted my kids to see me (advocating with the Mi’kmaq) because that piece of property, with any luck, will be theirs’,” he said. “And the legacy of taking care of that land and that water will fall to them.”
Beyond environmental stewardship, Hawke also recently offered his children life lessons in the form of a new book.
In “Rules for a Knight,” the author and actor lists a series of traits all good knights – or good people – should possess.
Hawke says he drew upon his own life experience and family lessons to come up with the complete list of 20 rules, which span from lessons on humility to ruminations on solitude, friendship, and death.
Each chapter opens with an illustration of a bird, drawn by his wife, Ryan Shawhughes.
Hawke said the idea for the book originally sprang from a conversation with his Shawhughes about the most important rules in their home. The concept evolved into “Rules for a princess,” which was dedicated to his eldest daughter. Then, Hawke adjusted the title to fit his son’s interests.
“It slowly just grew in the telling until finally, this year, my oldest is graduating and we just decided to publish it,” he said.
Hawke said his wife and children influenced the book so much that, in some ways, he doesn’t feel right taking all the credit.
“I feel much more like the editor than an author,” he said.
Source: CTV Canada AM
[Note: Independent media video idea coverage of the October 26th press conference in Paq’tnkek is also available. Watch excerpts from all speakers here, and Save Our Seas and Shores spokesperson’s entire commentary here. Credit: Ruby Tree Films]
Award-winning journalist Maureen Googoo, owner/editor of Kukukwes.com covered this story. The excerpts and photographs below come from the complete article on Kukukwes.com, an independent Aboriginal news organization.
“Mi’kmaq leaders from Listuguj, Gespeg and Gespegagiag in Quebec – which form the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat – worked with officials with Paqtnkek and the Save Our Seas and Shores coalition to ask the Hollywood actor help them raise awareness about the negative effects of offshore drilling in the Gulf area.”
“Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat in Quebec, said Canada should not allow offshore drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without first consulting with and speaking to the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Innu peoples.”
“And the way to speak to Mi’kmaq is to bring one comprehensive study that shows the body of water, the Gulf as one ecosystem and what could happen if there’s drilling,” Jerome said at the news conference.”
By Emily Hiltz
Posted on October 29, 2015
Actor, screenwriter and Antigonish County land owner Ethan Hawke joined Mi’kmaq leaders Monday to add his voice to the call for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Hawke, who has owned a place in Antigonish County for 15 years, described the area as a magical place.
“The elders of this community, particularly the Mi’kmaq have proven themselves to be totally trustworthy stewards of this land,” Hawke said.
“I’m here because I believe in the Mi’kmaq’s ability to decide what is best for this land and for this water. I support their right to determine that for themselves.”
Hawke said he was present as a neighbour and friend, adding he was flattered to be invited to the press conference and traditional Mi’kmaq water ceremony. “A lot of times what happens is people aren’t angry about drilling offshore until after it has already happened and we can’t pretend we’re not smart enough to know what the possibilities are and we know what the motivations of the oil companies are,” Hawke said, noting while oil seems valuable in the short term, water is invaluable.
Paqtnkek Chief Paul James (PJ) Prosper said the water ceremony was a new occasion for many.
“It’s through ceremony that we come to get to a fuller and richer understanding of who we are as Mi’kmaq people on this land,” he said, noting Pomquet Harbour, where the water ceremony took place, was also where Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested in 1993 for harvesting eels.
The Supreme Court of Canada acquitted Marshall in 1999, ruling Mi’kmaq have the right to earn a moderate livelihood from fishing.
“We are all a treaty people and we all hold this sacred responsibility to take care of the land and resources not only for ourselves but for future generations,” Prosper said. “We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters to the north. We recognize there is a need to protect the lands and resources and to do that in a responsible manner.”
Co-founder of Save Our Seas and Shores, Mary Gorman, noted according to scientists, the Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the most fragile and precious ecosystems on earth.
“Federal and provincial governments have created such an offshore regulatory mess in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that we have five provinces trying to cut up a single body of water,” Gorman said. “The problem is, water moves and oil and fish don’t recognize provincial boundaries.”
Gorman noted the industry control boards have a conflict of interest because they function as both promoters of petroleum development and protectors of marine habitat, allowing petroleum companies to monitor their own safety and environmental requirements.
“How did Canada’s protection of marine habitat get placed in the hands of the petroleum industry?” she asked.
Chief Scott Martin of Listuguj First Nation in Quebec spoke of the need for a 12-year moratorium on drilling because there are “numerous knowledge gaps” identified in the strategic environment assessment. “There must be a distinct process to study the whole of the gulf as one ecosystem,” Martin said, noting it should be done independently from the petroleum boards. “We demand that the race to drill in the gulf be stopped,” he added.
Executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat Troy Jerome said while Canada is thinking about drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence “we’re telling them that they cannot do it without speaking with the Mi’kmaq.”
Jerome added the way to do this would be to complete one comprehensive study that shows the Gulf of St. Lawrence as a single body of water and what could happen if drilling occurs there.
“Let’s get a 12-year moratorium out there … let’s call upon all the new Liberal MPs in the Atlantic [provinces],” Jerome said.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure all people from Nova Scotia go up to their MPs and say, ‘what are you doing about the gulf? Ethan Hawke is here doing something about the gulf, what are you doing about the gulf?”
Prosper said one of the things he has heard newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talk about is his willingness to meet aboriginal people on a nation to nation basis.
“I think that’s really important,” Prosper said. “It’s reflected within our treaty relationship which is a nation to nation relationship and I’m sure the new government will take active steps to recognize the nation of the Mi’kmaq people and to engage in a meaningful dialogue in a respectful way,” he said.
Martin said when the Liberal government was campaigning at their doors the representatives said “we’re here to work with you.”
“We’ve been trying to stop this for many years now and now that there is a new government, now is their time to step up to the plate,” Martin said.
Source: The Casket
By Julia Wong Video Journalist Global News
October 27, 2015 8:30 am
Updated: October 27, 2015 4:23 pm
HALIFAX – Hollywood actor Ethan Hawke lent some star power to environmentalists and First Nations groups in Nova Scotia who are calling for a ban on offshore drilling in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.
On Monday, the Academy Award nominee joined the chiefs of the Paq’tnkek First Nation and the Mi’kmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi along with the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition to call for a 12-year moratorium in the Gulf.
“Water is more valuable than oil. This water is our greatest resource,” Hawke told reporters.
The actor has a house in Monastery, N.S. and has been visiting the area for 20 years. Hawke was asked to attend the event by the First Nations groups and said protecting the Gulf is personal.
“I’m sure some people are wondering what I’m doing here. I’m largely here as your neighbour and your friend and a friend to this area,” he said.
“The one thing I can do as the one actor in the community is to sit next to really educated people who are working extremely hard to protect this beautiful water.”
Hawke participated in a water ceremony on the waterfront, which involved prayers and offerings by Mi’kmaq elders as the sound of traditional drums and the smell of burning sweetgrass filled the air.
Held each season, it honours the Mi’kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land, and their resources.
WATCH: Actor and celebrity Ethan Hawke lent his star power to the call against oil and gas development in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. It’s an issue of particular interest to First Nations groups in Nova Scotia. Julia Wong reports.
Call for more protection
Hawke said he trusts the judgment of the First Nations who have long lived in the area.
“I believe in the Mi’kmaq ability to decide what is best for this land. They earned that right not just by inhabiting this land for thousands of years but for the way they’ve cared for that water. I trust their judgment about what is best for this area, for the earth, for the land, for the people and for the water.”
First Nations chiefs said oil should not be given more priority than the environment.
“We demand the race to drill in the Gulf be stopped,” said Chief P.J. Prosper of the Paq’tnkek First Nation.
“Canadians and our Nations must be heard. No drilling without the proper assessment. The social good demands this. The Atlantic fisheries, our economy, our ecosystem must take precedence over oil.”
Chief Scott Martin of the Mi’kmaq Government said water is sacred for the First Nations people.
“We are all a treaty people. We all hold the sacred responsibility to take care of the lands and resources, not only for ourselves but for future generations as Mi’kmaq people,” he said.
“I’ve often thought if the water could have a voice here at this table what would she say? What would she say about the treatment and the neglect that people hold towards these invaluable and finite resources. So I ask you here today to please consider this very special meaning that water has for us, for all of us and the future generations that it supports.”
Mary Gorman, spokesperson from Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, said marine protection is weak in Canada right now and more must be done to protect the Gulf’s fragile ecosystem.
“It has counterclockwise currents that only flush into the Atlantic once a year. It is windy with ice cover. It sustains multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries and has among the largest lobster production in the world,” she said.
New Liberal government
Martin said he hopes the new Trudeau government will be receptive to their concerns.
“When they came campaigning at our doors, they say ‘We’re here to work with you’ and ‘Anything we can do to help you?’ This will be one of their first tests they will be challenged with because of the fact we’ve been trying to stop this for many years now,” he said.
“Now is the time to step up to the plate.”
Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner, who was in attendance at the event, said prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau is committed to a new relationship with First Nations communities.
“It is the early days now. We don’t know who is going to end up at the portfolio but it’s one that Atlantic caucus members that have been around the table for a while are very aware of,” he said.
A spokesperson for Central Nova MP Sean Fraser told Global News that Fraser will bring the issue to the attention of the minister in charge.
“Because of the importance of the fishery and the environment, he will make this concern an early priority once taking office,” reads the statement sent to Global News.
Hawke said he’s glad his celebrity drew media to cover the event. But he also downplayed his participation.
“I know the real difference will be made in other rooms,” he said. “It’s just an opportunity to talk about it . . I was invited to be a part of this so I take it seriously.”
– with files from CP
Source: Global News
Hawke says the concerns and wishes of local First Nations groups must be respected
Posted: Oct 26, 2015 12:01 PM AT
Last Updated: Oct 27, 2015 7:30 PM AT
Four-time Academy Award nominee and part-time Nova Scotia resident Ethan Hawke spoke out Monday about the need to protect the “beautiful water” of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas exploration.
Hawke was a special guest of an event in Afton in Nova Scotia’s Antigonish County, organized by the leadership of four First Nations groups from Nova Scotia and Quebec: the Paqtnkek, Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nations.
The event included a water ceremony, followed by a press conference.
Hakwe was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours. He’s owned property in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish for 15 years and has been coming to the province for two decades.
“My family settled in Texas at the turn of the last century and if you’ve seen the water outside Galveston, you would weep. You would really weep,” said Hawke.
‘I trust their judgment’
He says the concerns and wishes of local First Nations groups must be respected.
“They’ve earned that right, not just by inhabiting these lands for thousands of years, but for the way they’ve cared for that land and the water,” said Hawke.
“I trust their judgment for what is best for this area, for the Earth, the land the people and the water.”
Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, says First Nations groups and organizations like the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition have been working for years to raise awareness and Hawke’s name brings new attention to their concerns.
“Water, it affects everybody. It doesn’t just affect First Nations people,” said Jerome.
Hawke agreed his name can help lend some star power to the cause.
“The one thing I can do as the one actor in the community is to blab a little bit and to sit next to really intelligent, dedicated people who are working extremely hard to protect this beautiful water,” he said.
‘Now it’s their time to step up’
The Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition is calling for a 12-year exploration moratorium, which Jerome says is needed so the government can conduct a comprehensive review and environmental assessment.
The group says the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is considering plans for drilling at a site known as Old Harry, which is located midway between Quebec’s Magdalen Islands and Cape Anguille in western Newfoundland.
Jerome hopes the election of the federal Liberals will mean more co-operation from government, which is a promise Liberal candidates were making at doorsteps, he says.
“This will be one of the first tests that they will be challenged with because of the fact we’ve been trying to stop this for many years now and now that they’re the new government, now it’s their time to step up to the plate,” said Jerome.
He hopes the news coverage from Monday’s event will encourage Canadians to contact their MPs to talk about drilling.
Source: CBC News
AARON BESWICK Truro Bureau TRURO BUREAU
Published October 26, 2015 – 8:12pm
Last Updated October 26, 2015 – 8:49pm
Hollywood star appears with natives opposing exploration in Gulf
When Hollywood came to Antigonish County on Monday, the media followed.
Asked what bearing actor Ethan Hawke’s opinion had on potential exploratory drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Mary Gorman was quick with a response.
“The difference is that you’re here,” the co-founder of Save Our Seas and Shores told the many media outlets gathered.
Gorman joined Mi’kmaq leaders and the celebrated actor on Monday morning in Antigonish County to once again call for a 12-year moratorium on exploratory drilling for hydrocarbons in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The call was made after a traditional Mi’kmaq water ceremony was held near the spot on Pomquet Harbour where Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for catching and selling eels in 1993. Marshall’s appeals of those charges eventually brought him before the Supreme Court of Canada — which reached the landmark ruling that the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples have a right to make a “moderate livelihood” off the fishery.
Paqtnkek First Nation chief Paul Prosper and Scott Martin, chief of the Listuguj First Nation in Quebec, said at the ceremony that their people’s right to make a moderate livelihood from the sea could be threatened by oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“We demand that the race to drill in the Gulf be stopped,” said Martin.
“No drilling without proper assessment. The social good, the Atlantic fisheries, our economy, our way of life and the life of this ecosystem must take precedence over oil.”
Corridor Resources of Halifax has the only current application in to do exploratory drilling in the Gulf. It has exploration licences for an underwater area known as Old Harry about 80 kilometres west of Newfoundland’s south coast.
It is seeking environmental approval to drill one exploration well.
Energy Department spokeswoman Sarah Levy MacLeod said Monday that if any drilling were planned for the small area of the Gulf of St. Lawrence that Nova Scotia is responsible for, the Mi’kmaq would be consulted first.
“We consult with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia through the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Consultation Terms of Reference signed in 2010,” said Levy MacLeod.
“This agreement lays out a consultation process for government to follow when making decisions that could impact asserted Mi’kmaq aboriginal and treaty rights. The process involves regular communication and meetings between government regulators and representatives of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.”
For his part, Hawke, who has a cottage near the area where the ceremony took place, was asked by reporters what difference he thought his presence at the ceremony made.
“It’s just an opportunity to talk about” potential oil exploration in the Gulf, said Hawke.
“To actually get together and say a water ceremony is important. Your being here and all the people standing on the hill in the cold. Everybody does value the land so much, we just don’t know what to do about it. I was invited to be a part of this, so I take it seriously.”
Source: Chronicle Herald
By: Keith Doucette
ANTIGONISH, N.S. — The Canadian Press
Published Monday, Oct. 26, 2015 5:03PM EDT
Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke has added his star power to efforts by environmentalists and a Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq community who are trying to muster support for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Hawke was the special guest of the Mi’kmaq community’s annual water ceremony held Monday in Pomquet Harbour near Antigonish.
Hawke, who owns land in nearby St. George’s Bay, was asked to attend the event in support of his neighbours.
The actor said he wanted to stand up for “an absolutely magical place” where he has lived for parts of the summer for the past 15 years.
“I’m sure some people are wondering what I’m doing here,” said Hawke. “I’m largely here as your neighbour and your friend and a friend to this area.”
Hawke said the native community members have proven to be trustworthy stewards of the land and it was an honour to take part in their event.
The ceremony involved prayers and offerings by Mi’kmaq elders as the sound of traditional drums and the smell of burning sweetgrass filled the air.
Held each season, it honours the Mi’kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land, and their resources.
Hawke said he’s glad his celebrity drew media to cover the event. But he also downplayed his participation.
“I know the real difference will be made in other rooms,” he said. “It’s just an opportunity to talk about it. I was invited to be a part of this so I take it seriously.”
The Mi’kmaq and environmental groups want a 12-year moratorium on any potential drilling in the gulf. They say it will take that long to complete a proper and comprehensive environmental assessment of a bio-diverse area of the ocean.
“While Canada’s thinking about drilling out there . . . we are telling them that they can’t do it without talking to the Mi’kmaq,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.
Jerome said with a new Liberal government about to take power in Ottawa Canadians need to ask their MPs what they are doing about the gulf.
“Ethan Hawke is here doing something about the gulf, what are you (MPs) doing about the gulf?” he said.
Jerome told a news conference that Atlantic petroleum boards are operating at pace where Nova Scotians don’t feel they have a say about oil drilling.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the largest marine breeding regions in Canada with more than 2,000 marine species.
The area is home to endangered whales and is also home to a lucrative lobster fishery.
Source: Globe and Mail
Additional Canadian Press coverage appeared in the PEI Guardian