So if we allow drilling on the Atlantic coast, why would we not allow it in the gulf? Both are important fishing grounds that could be badly hurt by an oil spill. And the boats that take fishermen, scientists and tourists out to both waterways are powered by hydrocarbons that came out of the ground somewhere.“We recognize as a society that not every activity can take place everywhere,” said Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University. “We don’t do nuclear testing everywhere. We don’t build polluting industries in residential areas.” He said he doesn’t think there should be drilling on the Scotian Shelf or in the gulf. But the gulf, said Worm, would be particularly sensitive to a spill due to a combination of geography and biology.It exchanges water with the Atlantic Ocean through the Cabot Strait and the Strait of Belle Isle. This means that water circulates around the gulf before draining out.The Gulf of St. Lawrence is also significantly colder than the Gulf of Mexico and lacks the bacteria that work to naturally break down oil. So oil spilled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and carried into river estuaries would be there for a long time, said Worm. Those salt marsh estuaries, protected by the Atlantic’s big waves, are nurseries for all manner of sea creatures. The spartina salt grasses of those estuaries, meanwhile, produce more biological matter per hectare than the rainforest and flush it out to fuel the ocean food web.
This article by Emily Hiltz of the Antigonish newspaper The Casket provides excellent coverage of comments made by Ethan Hawke, Chief Scott Martin of Listuguj First Nation in Quebec, Paqtnkek Chief Paul James (PJ) Prosper, Executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat Troy Jerome and Mary Gorman of our Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition made during the October 26th press conference and Mi’kmaq water ceremony at Pomquet Harbour.
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. 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.” [Read the full article for quotes from Chief PJ Prosper, Chief Scott Martin, MP Roger Cuzner and Save Our Seas and Shores spokesperson Mary Gorman. Two excellent videos are included in this article.]
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. 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. 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. He hopes the news coverage from Monday’s event will encourage Canadians to contact their MPs to talk about drilling. [See full article for great video footage. CBC’s original post contains photo feed]
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. 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. [Video footage included in full article].
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. 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.
Hawke says the native community have proven themselves to be trustworthy stewards of the land and it was an honour to take part in their event. 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 environmental assessment of a bio-diverse area of the ocean.
Mi’kmaq woman Arlene Blanchard-White officiated a water ceremony Monday afternoon in Stephenville.
Local Mi’kmaq First Nation people, along with others other concerned about the environment, gathered Monday at Stephenville Beach for a ceremony to protect the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Water sustains life, and protecting it is not only a native duty, but also a human responsibility, explained Arlene Blanchard-White in officiating the ceremony. The water ceremony is held each season to give offerings and honour the Mi’Kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land and their resources.
In the Mi’kmaq culture, women are the keepers of the water and that’s why four women carried out the ceremony Monday. It involved the mixing of rain, well, river and ocean waters and pouring them into St. George’s Bay. The local Mi’kmaq didn’t carry out these ceremonies in isolation, as simultaneous events were held by the Mi’kmaq people of Paq’tnkek First Nation, Gepse’gewe’gi, Gespeg and Listuguj, who made a statement in Antigonish, N.S. The statement outlined the significance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to both Nations and called for immediate action to protect the body of water.
“We trying to show the world that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is not available for oil exploration,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. “It’s a race to get oil as opposed to a race protect the environment.”
“When you look at the state of the environment and climate change, I think we should be racing to protect the land where we can.” The water ceremony is held in each season to give offerings and honour the Mi’kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land. For two years now, the group has been saying there should be a 12-year moratorium to give time to conduct a proper study by a third-party that looks at the Gulf as a whole ecosystem. Jerome says up until now, studies have only been done by individual provinces. “The oil is not going to know which side of the border to stop its spill at,” he said. “It’s going to go all over the place.”
“Our salmon do not follow a provincial boundary, they go right through the channel.”
Actor Ethan Hawke will be lending some of his star power to First Nations groups in eastern Canada that oppose oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The leadership of the Paqtnkek, Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nations will be holding a joint press conference and water ceremony Monday by the coast at 577 Summerside Road in Afton, which is in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. Hawke will be a special guest and is scheduled to answer questions following a press conference. The four-time Oscar nominee who is known for films such as Training Day, Dead Poets Society and Boyhood has property in the area. 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 to raise awareness for years and a big name like Hawke’s can bring new attention to their concerns. The group is calling for a 12-year exploration moratorium, which Jerome says is needed so the government can conduct a comprehensive review.Mary Gorman of the Save our Seas and Shore Coalition says tens of thousands of jobs in the fishing and tourism industries could be impacted by offshore drilling. “We have been fighting this battle before Keystone, before Northern Gateway, before Energy East. All of these battles have taken precedence over our battle,” she said.
“There will be oil on the coast of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland if our politicians are foolish enough to let this proceed. And yet we chronically fall under the radar. And that’s why Ethan is helping us.”