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
Mi’kmaq elders Robert Pictou and Roseanne Martin perform a traditional water ceremony on Monday afternoon in Antigonish County. They are joined by actor Ethan Hawke. (AARON BESWICK / Truro Bureau)
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