Events | Save Our Seas and Shores

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.

Award-winning journalist Maureen Googoo, owner/editor of covered this story. The  excerpts and photographs below come from the complete article on, an independent Aboriginal news organization.

From left, Troy Jerome, Ethan Hawke, Listuguj Chief Scott Martin and Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper take part in water ceremony Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

L to R Mary Gorman (Save Our Seas and Shores); Listuguj Chief Scott Martin; Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper; actor Ethan Hawke and Troy Jerome executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

Ethan Hawke took part in a water ceremony in Paqtnkek along the shores of Pomquet Harbour Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)


Listuguj First Nation Chief Scott Martin (left), Roseann Martin of Listuguj First Nation, Bobby Pictou of Chapel Island First Nation and Academy Award nominated actor Ethan Hawke participate in a traditional water ceremony Monday afternoon in Afton. (PHOTO: Emily Hiltz)

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

Hawke says the concerns and wishes of local First Nations groups must be respected

CBC News 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.

Chief PJ Prosper of Paq’tnkek and Ethan Hawke (Credit: CBC)

‘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.

Save Our Seas and Shores members Mark Butler (L) and Ron Kelly (R) (Credit: Stephen Puddicombe CBC)

“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.

Ethan Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish, is lending his star power to a group of Mi’kmaq protesters who are calling for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)

‘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

TOM AYERS Cape Breton Bureau
Published October 22, 2015 – 11:28am

Oscar-nominated actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke is expected to attend a Mi’kmaq water ceremony on Monday at Paq’tnkek First Nation to support an aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“Ethan Hawke has some land in that area down there,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

“That’s why we were able to convince him to come out and do something with us, because he knows the area right there and he knows about the issue with the Gulf.”

Paq’tnkek Chief Paul (PJ) Prosper will host the secretariat — a group representing three First Nation communities along the Gaspe peninsula — along with Nova Scotia supporters and Innu and Maliseet from around the Gulf, at the ceremony at 1 p.m. on Summerside Road in Afton, Antigonish County.

That is near the site where the late Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for eel fishing, an affair that ended with a Supreme Court decision in his name that confirmed the aboriginal right to fish.

This week, Shell Canada received approval to begin exploratory drilling off the southwest shore of Nova Scotia, while Corridor Resources, a Halifax junior exploration company, still has an interest in oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Aboriginals aren’t opposed to all petroleum exploration and drilling, said Jerome, but the waters of the Gulf need to be protected to ensure the aboriginal right to fish is not harmed.

Also, the entire region’s economy depends on fishing and tourism, which would be threatened by oil and gas development, he said.

“The Gulf is a very unique ecosystem, as opposed to other bodies of water, so I think there’s a hook there to say that (exploration) could happen in other areas, but in the Gulf, if there is some kind of accident out there, it’s going to devastate the whole economy, right from Halifax all the way to Gaspe and Newfoundland.”

The secretariat is backing a call made last year by Mi’kmaq chiefs and others for a 12-year moratorium on exploration in the Gulf and asking government regulators to commission an independent study of the entire Gulf region, instead of requiring companies to conduct limited studies within a smaller radius from potential exploration sites.

It is also hoping to raise awareness of the issues in the Gulf, where the counterclockwise current could carry pollutants around the shores of the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec, said Jerome, and sea ice in winter could make any cleanup difficult.

And at least three provincial regulatory bodies cover oil and gas development in the Gulf.

“We see this whole Gulf exploration happening under a shroud,” said Jerome. “They’re doing it in public, but the public doesn’t know that they could have a say about what’s happening.

“No one’s drilling right now, and we’re trying to make sure that no drilling occurs. The Mi’kmaq proposed a 12-year moratorium and people came back and said, ‘Why a 12-year moratorium?’

“For us, it’s quite clear that the Gulf is one large ecosystem, and you cannot study it by going to the Newfoundland portion and studying that, going to Quebec and studying that portion, and studying the Nova Scotia portion.”

Source: Chronicle Herald

The News
October 22, 2015

Actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke is lending his voice to the efforts to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from off shore petroleum exploration.

Hawke, who owns property in Tracadie, Nova Scotia, is going to be a guest at a water ceremony and press conference where the Chiefs of the Paq’tnkek First Nation and the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi (Gesgapegiag, Gespeg and Listuguj) as they make an important statement on Monday that outlines the significance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to both Nations and calls for immediate actions to Protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Mary Gorman, of Pictou County, has been a long time activist for the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition and said this event is significant.

“We’re very grateful to the Mi’gmaq elders chiefs and their councils for protecting the gulf of St. Lawrence from offshore oil and gas development,” Gorman said. “We never would have been able to keep the oil industry out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the past 17 years without the Mi’gmaq leadership.

She said it’s great to have the support of Hawke who is coming on his dime to the event.

This venue for the conference is of historical significance. The site was the location for the events that led to the Marshall Decision which gives aboriginal people the right to make a living from fishing and hunting as based on early treaties between the British and Aboriginal people.

It’s because of that right that the aboriginal community believes they should be heavily involved in consultation about projects that could impact the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Troy Jerome of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat said they are concerned because there are off shore petroleum boards that are being organized with the intention of looking at drilling off shore.

“This could totally disrupt our way of life,” he said. “We need to be consulted.”

He said they want to know what kind of effects the drilling could have. He also believes that more people throughout the Atlantic provinces need to know what’s going on.

“We think this kind of event and having a big name like Ethan Hawke could raise awareness,” he said.

The event will take place on Monday at 1 p.m. at 577 Summerside Road, Antigonish.

The water ceremony is held in each season to give offerings and honour the Mi’gmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land, and their resources.

The press conference will draw attention to the threat to the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence posed by offshore oil and gas development.

The Leadership of the Innu and the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gwa’gi formed a coalition in October 2013 to work together to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This coalition was formed with the intent to speak with one voice to protect the Aboriginal and Treaty rights and title throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence from potential hydrocarbon exploration.

Source: The News

On Sunday, February 1st, 2015, a public forum and panel discussion was held in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University. The panel included Irene Novaczek, adjunct professor of Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island; Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Conne River Mi’kmaq Tribal Nation; and economist Michael Bradfield, a member of Nova Scotia’s review panel for hydraulic fracturing..
The forum and panel presentations made the connections between the issue of Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking in Newfoundland and Labrador and broader regional concerns related to oil development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The meeting was well attended, as well as informative, with many community members sharing viewpoints in a lively public forum on the health and welfare of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, oil development and fracking.

The forum was organized and hosted by representatives of the Social Justice Co-operative and Newfoundland and Labrador representatives of the  Save our Seas and Shores  organization  as well as other supportive individuals in the community.

For further coverage on the public forum, The Western Star and The Telegram have published excellent articles on the event. Bob Diamond’s Letter to the Editor of the Western Star offers a wonderful summary of the afternoon panel and discussion. The public forum is available to view in its entirety here.

On Saturday, November 1st, the Prince Edward Island Preserve Co. in New Glasgow, PEI hosted a fundraising dinner in support of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter’s Blue Whale Campaign to protect the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Save Our Seas and Shores PEI and Sierra Club member, Colin Jeffery, spoke to those in attendance, highlighting and expanding upon some of the more notable threats that have already begun to impact the health of the Gulf, such as: climate change, excess nutrients and invasive species. Jeffery then focused his talk on the perils of oil and gas explorations that further threaten the hypersensitive and already fragile ecosystem within Gulf waters.

The Blue Whale Dinner was a successful fundraising event, but equally, and perhaps more so, it raised public awareness on the issues that directly impact the overall health and sustainability of life in the five provinces that border the Gulf, as well as the Gulf’s role as an integral part of a greater ecosystem far beyond our shores. As past-chair of the Save Our Seas and Shores PEI, Ellie Reddin stated, “It was a lovely evening…[and] it would make a fine annual event!”.

The Blue Whale Campaign is building public support for increased protection of our threatened Gulf ecosystem and a moratorium on oil and gas development in these waters.Read a more in depth account of the Blue Whale Dinner on the PEI Preserve company Blog post here.

Save Our Seas and Shores – PEI Chapter and Sierra Club Canada Foundation are hosting a Blue Whale Bash at the PEI Farm Centre in Charlottetown, Sunday, Sept 7 from 1pm-5pm.

This event will feature local food and beverages, musical entertainment, a raffle for a chance to win a lobster supper, and an opportunity to donate and support the cause. The event will conclude with the raffle draw and presentations from campaign organizers, outlining the blue whale’s struggle for survival and the important role it plays off our coast.

In addition, there will be a large poster of a baby blue whale (seven metres in length) made available throughout the event on which children can colour. Colouring materials will be provided.

To learn more about the Blue Whale Campaign fundraising campaign, visit

Please go here to join the Blue Whale Bash Facebook event!

Credit: Andrea Schaffer via Flickr

After four years of research by the St. Lawrence Coalition, Gulf 101 – Oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: Facts, Myths, and Future Outlook was released last week (June 10th 2014) in tandem with World Oceans Week. The report explores the facts and myths surrounding oil exploration and exploitation in the Gulf as well as possible future scenarios that may result from these activities.

The 80-page report highlights our lack of understanding towards the ecosystems within the Gulf as well as the oceans currents and other environmental components found there. The environment of the Gulf is subject to conditions that are not seen in other areas of oil development such as winter ice that would make cleaning up an oil spill almost impossible, threatening the destruction of the slowly recovering cod stocks as well as the currently thriving fisheries and tourism industries that so many communities depend on.

The report provides true insight for why Save Our Seas and Shores and the St. Lawrence Coalition asks you to lend your support to a moratorium on oil and gas in the Gulf. Go here to take action!

The Gulf 101 Report generated massive media attention in all five Gulf provinces. Here is a selection:


The Telegram:

Nova Scotia

Chronicle Herald:

CBC Nova Scotia:

Prince Edward Island:

The Guardian:


CBC News Montreal (online): (June 9)

Go hear to read the Press Release on the report from the David Suzuki Foundation: