Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi demand true Gulf wide consultation

(Joint Press Release issued by Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat and St. Lawrence Coalition.)

The Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi meet the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board –
A true consultation covering the whole Gulf of St. Lawrence is demanded

Gesgapegiag, November 27, 2012 – Following numerous demands by the Mi’gmaq to be consulted on exploration or development of oil and gas in the Gulf and its potential impacts, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and its consultant AMEC inc. have met today in Gesgapegiag with representives of the Gespe’gewa’gi Mi’gmaq.

The Mi’gmaq acknowledge the visit of representatives from the Newfoundland Board in charge of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Newfoundland’s part of the Gulf. However, like all communities recently consulted in the five coastal provinces, the Mi’gmaq have also expressed their deep deception for the ongoing consultation process.

“The current consultations in the five Gulf provinces are not detailed in the least, and in no way answer to coastal communities’ expectations and demands, nor does it in any way respond to the legal obligations owed to the Mi’gmaq by the Crown”, according to Troy Jerome, Executive Director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

Numerous questions and concerns were raised during the meeting. The Mi’gmaq demand a legitimate consultation and accommodation process, one that is led by an independent and competent Joint Review Panel that indeed evaluates the true impacts of oil and gas exploration and drilling in the Gulf as a whole. They assert that this constitutes the only means of accurately comprehending the concerns of the Mi’gmaq in relation to the risks associated with an oil and gas tragedy in the Gulf that would undoubtedly provoke devastating repercussions on medicinal plants and salmon that are essential to the Mi’gmaq way of life.

The Mi’gmaq insist on the fact that they have a unique relationship with Gespe’gewa’gi, which makes them caretakers of their lands and waters for all future generations.

The St. Lawrence Coalition, also present at this meeting, shares the major and legitimate concerns expressed by the Mi’gmaq. “We also ask that the current consultation process be rectified and we demand a review panel on the totality of the Gulf of St. Lawrence with true and thorough public consultations” explains Danielle Giroux, spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition. According to the Coalition, it is time to adequately answer the call of First Nations and thousands of citizens in coastal communities, fishermen, tourism industry, municipalities, environmental groups, scientists, all greatly concerned by the future of the Gulf.

Sylvain Archambault, also spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition, reminds us of the great fragility of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and of the necessity of using utmost care : “We firmly believe that conditions are not in place to allow exploration and development of oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Consequently, a moratorium in all of the Gulf of St. Lawrence seems essential.”

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The St. Lawrence Coalition gathers together First Nations and non-aboriginal people from 80 groups and associations, and 4500 individuals from various economic sectors in the 5 coastal provinces. Members of the Coalition are calling for a moratorium on exploration and exploitation of oil and gas across the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Sources : Troy Jerome Executive Director, Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat

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