In the News | Save Our Seas and Shores | Page 2

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 http://www.socialjusticecoopnl.ca/ and Newfoundland and Labrador representatives of the  Save our Seas and Shores  organization   http://saveourseasandshores.ca/  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.

APTN National News
A First Nations alliance says legal action may be the only way to stop oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Innu, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq Alliance is teaming up with other coalitions.

They met Thursday to brainstorm ways to continue their fight to protect what scientists call an ecologically sensitive area.

APTN’s Trina Roache has the story. View here: http://aptn.ca/news/2014/10/16/fight-stop-drilling-gulf-st-lawrence-grows/

By Adam Walsh, CBC News Posted: Oct 27, 2014 6:30 AM NT

New warnings are being raised over proposed drilling at the Old Harry reservoir beneath the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with research that suggests an oil spill at the site could affect coastlines in Atlantic Canada.

A Radio Canada-CBC investigation in partnership with the Institut des Sciences de la Mer de Rimouski warns an oil spill could be much worse than previously thought.

The investigation was aired Sunday night on a documentary produced by Radio-Canada’s science magazine program Découverte.

The Old Harry reservoir straddles the maritime border of Quebec and Newfoundland, and is north of the Maritime provinces. It is estimated to contain as much as two billion barrels of recoverable oil and and 5,000 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Corridor Resources is seeking permission from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to do exploratory drilling at the site.

Corridor hired Ottawa-based SL Ross Environmental Research to do a study on the effects an oil spill could have in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The report, presented in 2012, found that oil would quickly break down and a spill would be minimal and be unlikely to reach land.

Researchers take issue with report

But Dany Dumont, professor of physical oceanography at ISMER, said the report is flawed.

dany-dumont-3424459

Reseacher Dany Dumont hopes that regulators take independent research on the possible risks of an oil spill into account. (CBC)

“It all started when we began to notice some flaws to our ideas in the methodology of this report and also triggered by the conversation that was going on between environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, whom we’re working with sometimes,” Dumont said in an interview.

“They were contesting, or arguing about some flaws in the report, so we decided to have our look in it,” said Dumont.

The study looked at  where the water passing through Old Harry would go.

“We found that the extent of the oil transiting over Old Harry is much wider than what’s presented in SL Ross,” said Dumont. “If we consider just that for example, degradation is slower due to the cold environment we are in.”

A study published this spring found that the areas most likely to be affected by a spill at the site would be the coastlines of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

But the magnitude of any such spill could be a significant factor, the researchers found. For instance, while a concentrated spill (of less than 10 days) would affect specific areas, a major spill (lasting up to 100 days) would affect all of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Documentary launches own buoys

Then the Radio-Canada program Découverte tested the flow assertions of the study.

daniel-bourgault-9889229

Dany Dumont, right, and Daniel Bourgault, professor of physical oceanography, point to the site of the OId Harry offshore oil prospect. (CBC)

Three buoys were deployed from a boat at the Old Harry site. Their movement was then monitored electronically.

It took 12 days for the buoys to arrive at Port Saunders on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula — a flow rate much faster than even what Dumont’s study had predicted.

Dumont said before any decision is made to allow drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, his research should be taken into consideration.

“I would argue that it would be really great — and not only great but also essential — that independent science is also considered in the  decision-making process.”

Gaps in original report ‘dangerous’

Meanwhile, the original research done for Corridor Resources has drawn criticism from an oceanographer at Memorial University in St. John’s.

Len Zedel, an associate professor at Memorial University, told CBC News that gaps in the SL Ross report are dangerous.

“Dangerous, in the sense that if the oil is heavier than expected, [and] you had more escape than you would like, it’s going to end up on the shorelines all around Newfoundland, potentially Quebec, P.E.I., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia — they’re all potentially exposed to that risk,” said Zedel.

Zedel added he finds any assertion that oil won’t reach shore following a spill hard to believe. He said it’s time for a discussion on how far people are willing to go with drilling in the gulf.

“I guess the thing that pains me about this is [that what] we’re talking about,  it’s only exploration. It’s just going to be an exploration well,” he said.

“That’s true. But unless we as a community are prepared to follow up and have a production [plan], well then, it makes no sense to do the exploration.”

Zedel said once exploration starts, it will be hard to stop.

Link to the story on the CBC NL News Website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/red-flags-raised-over-spill-damage-risks-at-old-harry-reservoir-1.2813767

This was a terrible headline, but we are at the ready to throw a wrench into these plans! Our press release calling for no more license extensions in the Gulf was out the exact same day! Here’s the full story …

The Canadian Press

Covered by: iPolitics, The Globe and Mail
October 14, 2014

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Ottawa and Quebec are both expected to table legislation by the end of the year to jointly manage the petroleum resources in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Harper made the announcement in Sept-Iles on Tuesday along with Denis Lebel, the federal cabinet minister responsible for Quebec’s economic development.

“The accord will enable the safe and environmentally responsible development of petroleum resources in the region, help create hundreds of jobs and generate revenues and economic growth for Quebec and Canada,” Harper said.

Also in attendance was Quebec’s junior transport minister, Jean D’Amour.

Harper said Ottawa and Quebec are well-positioned to table the legislative framework to implement an accord that was signed in 2011.

Ottawa estimates that the Gulf of St. Lawrence and surrounding areas have the potential for 39 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.

Not everyone was as enthusiastic about the project as Harper.

The unseen legislation promised by both the federal and provincial governments drew an immediate backlash from groups opposed to oil and gas exploration in the area.

In July, First Nations leaders from Atlantic Canada called for a 12-year moratorium on all oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“It is high time that governments started supporting First Nations and coastal communities over corporate oil interests,” Mary Gorman of Save Seas and Shores said in a release Tuesday.

The group includes fishing, environmental, tourism and First Nations organizations with a common goal of stopping energy exploration in the Gulf. Their immediate target is Corridor Resources Ltd., which plans to drill at a site known as Old Harry off Newfoundland in the Gulf.

“We want Corridor, unelected petroleum boards and federal and provincial governments to know that oil drilling cannot co-exist in sensitive spawning, nursery and migratory waters in one of the most fragile ecosystems on earth,” Gorman said.

A Montreal-based group called Coalition Saint-Laurent also issued a release demanding a pause while the issue goes to a full public review.

“The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a unique ecosystem, very fragile, shared by five coastal provinces,” spokesman Sylvain Archambault said in a statement.

“Instead of paving the way for oil exploration, Quebec should take a leadership role in the Gulf and work with other coastal provinces in the establishment of a general moratorium on oil activities for the entire Gulf, as well as holding an extensive public review on the matter.”

Green party Leader Elizabeth May weighed in on Twitter, calling Harper’s announcement “really bad news for whales.”

The federal government reached similar deals with Newfoundland and Labrador in 1985 and Nova Scotia in 1986.

Offshore petroleum production in Canada accounts for 25 per cent of light crude output and one per cent of the country’s annual average natural gas output.

Newfoundland and Labrador received $8.4 billion in royalties from the region covered by the 1985 accord and Nova Scotia has benefited from $2 billion in the area cited in their deal.

Harper and Quebec announce oil development plans for Gulf of St. Lawrence

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-quebec-to-clear-path-for-gulf-of-st-lawrence-oil-production/article21086979/

The Western Star Published on October 18, 2014

  • Bob Diamond is voicing his concerns with more license extensions for Corridor Resources.

Diamond, a Stephenville resident, is the Newfoundland and Labrador representative on the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. The organization is calling on the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to stop issuing license extensions to Corridor Resources for property EL-1105 at Old Harry in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

In Halifax back in July, First Nations groups called for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

Representatives from Save Our Seas and Shores from the four Atlantic Provinces and Quebec met in Halifax this week to announce their support for the alliance’s demand.

Six representatives from the Bay St. George area and Bonne Bay participated in the discussions through Skype.

Diamond said while Corridor Resources has not yet applied for this extension, the coalition wants to send a clear message to federal and provincial politicians and to the C-NLOPB.

“Corridor has already received two free extensions from the C-NLOPB, which amount to special treatment given to this oil company by its regulator,” Diamond said.

Diamond said the coalition wants Corridor Resources, unelected petroleum boards and federal and provincial governments to know oil drilling cannot co-exist in sensitive spawning, nursery and migratory waters.

He said the 12-year moratorium should also include onshore to offshore drilling that would make use of hydraulic fracturing, including the Green Shale Formations off the coast of western Newfoundland

http://www.thewesternstar.com/Business/2014-10-18/article-3907406/No-more-license-extensions-for-Corridor-Resources%3A-Diamond/1

The News, New Glasgow, NS
Published on October 16, 2014

http://www.ngnews.ca/News/Local/2014-10-16/article-3906026/Groups-call-for-moratorium-on-petrol-exploration-in-Gulf/1

HALIFAX – Just days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced joint plans with the government of Quebec to introduce legislation allowing for oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, several groups in Eastern Canada are renewing their calls for a moratorium.
Following an announcement made by the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq Alliance in Halifax last July, when First Nations called for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence, representatives from Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition are meeting in Halifax this week to announce their support for the Alliance’s demand.

The organization is also calling on the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) to stop issuing licence extensions, free or otherwise, to Corridor Resources for EL-1105 at Old Harry in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

“There is a duty to consult First Nations that has not been upheld thus far in this process,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. “It makes no sense for the C-NLOPB to issue another licence extension to Corridor Resources when First Nations have called for a 12-year moratorium, unless they plan to give Corridor a 12-year extension.”

In a letter from Scott Tessier, chair and chief executive officer of the C-NLOPB, dated on July 25 and addressed to Aboriginal leaders in Quebec, he noted his appreciation of the input into the proposed offshore program from Aboriginal leaders thus far. The letter was mum on details for further participation from the public.

“While there is a substantial amount of information on our website pertaining to the Old Harry environmental assessment, the board has not yet explicitly requested input from the public or aboriginal communities,” the letter read.

The Coalition is responding to a statement made by Corridor Resources in their second quarter results that indicated the resource company would be looking for more time on its licence.

“The C-NLOPB… indicated that additional consultations on Corridor’s Old Harry Environmental Assessment (EA) are required in order for the C-NLOPB to finalize the EA,” the press release stated. “Corridor is seeking additional time to execute on its licence given the requirement to complete additional consultation. Corridor is seeking additional time to execute on its licence given the requirement to complete additional consultation.”

While the company has not yet applied for this extension, the Coalition wanted to send a clear message to federal and provincial politicians and to the C-NLOPB that further extension wouldn’t be tolerated.

“It is high time that governments started supporting First Nations and coastal communities over corporate oil interests. We want Corridor, unelected petroleum boards and federal and provincial governments to know that oil drilling cannot co-exist in sensitive spawning, nursery and migratory waters in one of the most fragile ecosystems on earth,” said Mary Gorman. “We stand with Innu, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq First Nations in calling for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence.”

Coalition members include coastal landowners, fishery and tourism representatives and concerned members of the public.

“Since the Gulf of St. Lawrence is six times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, can you imagine what a similar spill would do to our billion-dollar Gulf fishery,” said Ron Heighton, president of the Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board. “The Gulf of St. Lawrence has the largest concentration of krill in the North Atlantic and among the largest lobster production in the world. The fishing industry is not willing to take this risk and we don’t want our politicians to either.”

Attempts to reach a representative of Corridor Resources Inc. were unsuccessful at press time.

john.brannen@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: NGNewsJohn

It’s not the kind of pet you can take home, but Islanders will soon have a chance to help name a blue whale living in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.Zack Metcalfe is one of the organizers for a group working towards raising awareness for protecting endangered species and commercial fish species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.The unique naming contest is just one of the ways the campaign, which is a collaboration between Save Our Seas and Shores and the Sierra Club, hopes to raise that awareness during the next several months.

Metcalfe said that contest is also being run with the Mingan Island Cetacean Study.

“We’re picking a blue whale that they’ve identified that hasn’t been named yet and we’re going to put it to public opinion to toss in their name suggestions,” said Metcalfe during an interview with The Guardian at a “Blue Whale Bash” in Charlottetown Sunday.

The day saw a lobster raffle, live music and local food at the Farm Centre.

There was also a life-sized baby blue whale poster children could colour in and write messages on, as well as displays describing the marine life found in the gulf.

Metcalfe said the focus is not just whales, but all critically endangered species and commercial fisheries in the gulf.

“The blue whale is only our poster boy because it is the largest, most beautiful and one of the most threatened species out there,” he said, and pointed to a recent U.S. study from the University of Vermont. “Whales play an absolutely critical role in fishery ecosystems … they actually create energy in an ecosystem and thus allow for more fish, so they actually increase fish stocks.”

Much of the campaign’s cause is also motivated by opposition towards oil and gas exploration in the gulf.

Seismic testing has already been done in the gulf, while discussions over any future development continue.

Colin Jeffrey, the campaign’s other organizer, said the group wants individuals to start a debate on oil and gas development as well as look at other negative impacts such as increasing runoff pollution, overfishing and marine traffic.

“The idea is to get more information out there about how rich in marine life our gulf is, it’s really a nursery for a lot of our marine species,” said Jeffrey. “A lot of fish species come into the gulf where the waters are calmer and shallow and they lay their eggs there.”

Jeffrey said the group will educate the public on the many species in the gulf until the campaign ends sometime next January. Each week, a different species will be detailed online.

Jeffrey said more information on the campaign is available through links on the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club’s and the Save Our Seas and Shores’ websites.

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2014-09-08/article-3861355/Islanders-can-help-name-blue-whale/1

In the wake of World Oceans Day, marked with actions and celebrations by the United Nations and community groups around the world, Atlantic Canadians should pause and consider how we are treating the ocean in our own backyard.

Of special concern is the recent push to develop oil and gas deposits in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Not content with exploiting the 85 per cent of Canada’s eastern waters that lie outside of the Gulf, the oil and gas industry has persuaded provincial governments to open up parts of the gulf for exploration and development.

However, Canadians have more to lose from petroleum development in the gulf than outside it. With its warm, shallow waters, this inland sea acts as a vital feeding and spawning ground for most of our commercially valuable marine species and contains the largest concentration of krill in the North Atlantic.

In 1973, an interdisciplinary panel report led by Dr. Loutfi of McGill University described the gulf as “biologically, the most productive Canadian marine region” and concluded that offshore development posed too great a risk to an ecosystem of such biological diversity.

Since then, the health of our gulf has deteriorated, with overfishing, land-based pollution and climate-change-driven impacts all playing a role in its decline. Fish stocks that once created thousands of jobs in the region are now managed with the utmost care in the hopes that they will one day increase. Given the current fragile state of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, do we really want to add the known impacts of offshore drilling to the mix?

Most worrying of all is the lack of environmental protection proposed by those overseeing oil and gas development in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Currently, planned development is concentrated along Newfoundland’s west coast. Like many parts of the gulf, this area has an unusual abundance of fish and provides critical feeding, spawning and wintering habitat for several groundfish and pelagic fish species, as well as threatened whale species.

For this and other reasons, it has been designated an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA) by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. One would think that such high biodiversity would persuade the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) to at least place areas of vital marine habitat off limits to petroleum development, but this has not happened.

In May, the CNLOPB released an update of its Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for Newfoundland’s western offshore, a document that is supposed to provide strategic planning for future offshore development and ensure environmental protection on a regional scale.

This, it does not do. Using the flimsy excuse that specific protection measures cannot be implemented before actual projects have been proposed, the CNLOPB makes no effort to place critical marine habitat off-limits to oil and gas exploration and development.

The SEA Update area also includes the “Old Harry” prospect, which is expected to be approved for exploratory drilling this summer. Proceeding with drilling here is as likely as anywhere in the gulf to cause real harm. It’s located in water six times deeper than the Hibernia site and surrounded by biologically significant areas.

As Atlantic Canadians, we have relatively little to gain and everything to lose from allowing oil and gas development to proceed in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The economic benefits of these industries are often touted, but increased energy efficiency and renewable energy production offer more substantial economic benefits.

According to a comprehensive study titled Putting Renewables and Energy Efficiency to Work, published in the journal Energy Policy in 2010, “all renewable energy sources generate more jobs than the fossil fuel sector per unit of energy delivered.”

Further fossil fuel production will also increase the severity of climate change, creating substantial negative impacts on our economies and our lives in the coming decades.

When you add in anticipated negative impacts to our Eastern Canadian fisheries, which contribute $3 billion a year to Atlantic economies, one really has to question if offshore drilling in the gulf is our best option for energy development in Atlantic Canada.

Colin Jeffrey is a member of Save Our Seas and Shores — P.E.I. chapter.

Go here to read the piece on the Herald’s website.

Colin’s Op Ed also appeared in The Guardian on June 10th, under the heading:

Oceans Day reminds us to protect the Gulf

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:

Newfoundland

The Telegram: http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2014-06-09/article-3755759/Group-calls-for-oil-and-gas-moratorium-in-the-Gulf-of-St.-Lawrence/1

Nova Scotia

Chronicle Herald: http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1206569-hunt-for-oil-gas-in-gulf-of-st-lawrence-questioned

CBC Nova Scotia: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/groups-call-for-gulf-of-st-lawrence-oil-and-gas-moratorium-1..2669369

Prince Edward Island:

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2014-06-09/article-3756428/Group-calls-for-moratorium-on-drilling-in-Gulf-of-St.-Lawrence/1

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2014-06-10/article-3757764/Oceans-Day-reminds-us-to-protect-the-Gulf/1

Quebec

CBC News Montreal (online): http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/moratorium-on-gulf-of-st-lawrence-oil-exploration-sought-1.2669637 (June 9)

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

English: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2014/06/groups-and-first-nations-in-five-provinces-demand-a-stop-oil-and-gas-activities/

French: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/fr/medias/communiques-de-presse/2014/06/des-groupes-et-premieres-nations-des-cinq-provinces-exigent-un-arret-des-activit/

Environmental groups oppose changes in N.S. offshore assessment process ~ iPolitics

Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition and Greenpeace Canada both oppose proposed changes which would scale back responsibilities of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and give the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) the power to conduct federal environmental assessments of projects in the region.

According to iPolitics, Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada said the change is a sop to the energy industry.

Keith Stewart, climate & energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. Credit: https://twitter.com/climatekeith

“This is about gutting environmental reviews in order to fast-track oil projects, as the Petroleum Board doesn’t have the expertise or the mandate to do a proper environmental assessment,” he said in an email response. “If you’re renovating your house, it might seem faster and cheaper to have your accountant double up as the architect, but then don’t be surprised when the fancy new addition collapses.”

Mary Gorman, spokesperson for Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, expressed similar outrage in an email to iPolitics.

Mary Gorman, co-founder and spokesperson, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. (Credit: https://twitter.com/gorman_mary)

“Entrenching powers for industry controlled offshore petroleum boards into Canada’s Environmental Assessment Act is not responsible conduct and will not lead to a responsible authority,” Gorman said. “Rather, it deepens the conflict of interest that the C-NSOPB is already in, as both a promoter of offshore development while simultaneously protecting the environment.”

Save Our Seas and Shores expressed opposition to this change in a July 22/2015 submission to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

According to iPolitics, the C-NSOPB will fill the role of the CEAA when necessary. As the government explains in its regulatory impact analysis statement, this is thanks to Bill C-22, which will allow the board to conduct these assessments. Then, C-NSOPB will perform the same functions as the National Energy Board (NEB), the market regulator for interprovincial and international pipelines and power lines, does for offshore projects everywhere except around Newfoundland and Labrador, where the CEAA will continue to conduct its assessments. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) — that region’s equivalent of the CNSOPB — “is not yet in a position to assume this role,” the government says.

In the past, the C-NSOPB carried out these reviews under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, before its overhaul in 2012.

To read the entire iPolitics article, Environmental groups decry change in N.S. offshore assessment process written by Mackenzie Scrimshaw, go here.

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 Kukukwes.com covered this story. The  excerpts and photographs below come from the complete article on Kukukwes.com, 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)

Source: Kukuwes.com

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 http://www.socialjusticecoopnl.ca/ and Newfoundland and Labrador representatives of the  Save our Seas and Shores  organization   http://saveourseasandshores.ca/  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 bluewhale.causevox.com.

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:

Newfoundland

The Telegram: http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2014-06-09/article-3755759/Group-calls-for-oil-and-gas-moratorium-in-the-Gulf-of-St.-Lawrence/1

Nova Scotia

Chronicle Herald: http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1206569-hunt-for-oil-gas-in-gulf-of-st-lawrence-questioned

CBC Nova Scotia: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/groups-call-for-gulf-of-st-lawrence-oil-and-gas-moratorium-1..2669369

Prince Edward Island:

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2014-06-09/article-3756428/Group-calls-for-moratorium-on-drilling-in-Gulf-of-St.-Lawrence/1

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2014-06-10/article-3757764/Oceans-Day-reminds-us-to-protect-the-Gulf/1

Quebec

CBC News Montreal (online): http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/moratorium-on-gulf-of-st-lawrence-oil-exploration-sought-1.2669637 (June 9)

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

English: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2014/06/groups-and-first-nations-in-five-provinces-demand-a-stop-oil-and-gas-activities/

French: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/fr/medias/communiques-de-presse/2014/06/des-groupes-et-premieres-nations-des-cinq-provinces-exigent-un-arret-des-activit/

PEI supporters start provincial petition campaign – Get your copy here!

Save Our Seas and Shores – PEI Chapter

We have started a petition to the PEI Legislature seeking a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.   Our aim to collect at least 1,000 signatures and present the petition to the Legislature this April.

Please print the petition, sign it, obtain nine more signatures, and mail it to the address at the bottom of the petition. If you’re also willing to send it on to others, that would be great. For additional information, here is our new brochure which lists reasons we need to protect the Gulf and actions people can take.

Some rules regarding petitions that are important for you to know: •    everyone who signs must reside in PEI; •    there is no minimum age requirement; •    the signer’s address should at least include his/her community, province and postal code;

•    the text of the petition must not be altered in any way.

Ethan Hawke helps Mi’kmaq oppose Gulf of St. Lawrence oil exploration ~ CBC

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

‘They’re neighbours’: Ethan Hawke on why he joined Mi’kmaq call to halt oil drilling ~ CTV

CTVNews.ca Staff
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]

‘This water is our greatest resource’: Ethan Hawke joins call to stop offshore drilling in Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ Global News

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

Value of water highlighted during Mi’kmaq ceremony in Stephenville, NL ~ Western Star

Frank Gale/The Western Star
October 26, 2015

Mi’kmaq woman Arlene Blanchard-White officiated a water ceremony Monday afternoon in Stephenville, NL (Western Star)

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.

Leadership of the Innu and Mi’kmaq of Gespe’gwa’gi formed a coalition in October 2013 to work together with the intent to speak as one voice to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from potential hydrocarbon exploration.

Brycen Young, an active Mi’kmaq youth, was impressed with the ceremony, which drew just over 50 people.

“It’s important to us as Mi’kmaq people and to all humans to come out and give thanks to the water and try to protect it,” he said.

Blain Ford, who made the trip from Benoit’s Cove to participate, said as a Mi’kmaq people they take a lot of pride, honour and respect to Mother Earth and our water because if it wasn’t for the water, Mother Earth and its people would not exist.

Source: Western Star

Ethan Hawke special guest at native water ceremony in Nova Scotia ~ Western Star

October 26, 2015

ANTIGONISH, N.S. – Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke was the special guest as a Mi’kmaq community in northeastern Nova Scotia held a water ceremony to support a call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay near Antigonish, was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

The actor says he took part as a friend to an area where he has lived for parts of the summer for the past 15 years.

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.

Source: The Western Star

Review of oil well for Gulf of St. Lawrence terminated (Globe and Mail)

Review of oil well for Gulf of St. Lawrence terminated GLORIA GALLOWAY OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Feb. 27 2013

A former New Brunswick ombudsman who was asked to consult with an anxious public about an oil well proposed for the Gulf of St. Lawrence says he recently learned his review has been terminated and he fears that whatever replaces it will be far less comprehensive.

Bernard Richard was hired by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) to obtain public feedback from people living in the Gulf region about Corridor Resources Inc.’s plans to conduct exploratory drilling at the Old Harry site off the southwest coast of Newfoundland.

Mr. Richard was told in January, 2012, that his review was being postponed while the board updated its own strategic environmental assessment for the entire offshore area of western Newfoundland. It was clear to all, including Mr. Richard, that the larger study could have an impact on his consultations about the Old Harry project. So “nothing had happened in about nine months,” Mr. Richard said in a telephone interview with The Globe and Mail.

“But I certainly learned that it [his review] had been terminated when somebody alerted me to a posting on the board’s website,” he said. “That was a couple weeks ago.” The posting was dated Feb. 28, 2012.

Mr. Richard is now concerned that a review like the one he was supposed to conduct is no longer on the agenda.

“A spill in a gulf, particularly of the nature of the St. Lawrence, could potentially have more far-reaching effects than a spill [in the Atlantic Ocean] 200 miles east of Newfoundland,” he said.

“Although we will need oil for many decades to come, there may be some places where we shouldn’t be drilling,” Mr. Richard said. “My process would have helped find some kind of answer to that question. But, since I never completed it, I really don’t know. At some point we will learn, but maybe we will learn at a very great cost.”

Activists who oppose drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence say they are dismayed to learn that Mr. Richard’s consultation had been cancelled.

“Now that this review has been terminated, we are deeply concerned there will be no legitimate, independent public review of seismic and deepwater drilling in, arguably, the most beautiful and sensitive breeding area in Canada, where over 2,000 species spawn, nurse and migrate year around,” said Mary Gorman, a founding member of the Save our Seas and Shores coalition.

“What has happened with Richard is proof of the conflict of interest these boards (like the C-NLOPB) are in as both promoters of development and alleged protectors of the environment,” she said.

In 2011, when memories of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico were still fresh, the C-NLOPB decided it wanted an additional level of scrutiny of the Old Harry proposal and even asked Environment Minister Peter Kent to engage the federal government.

The minister rejected the request saying he believed, along with an update of the environmental assessment for the larger offshore region, a project-specific assessment “that will include extensive public consultation can adequately address the issues.”

It is the companies themselves that conduct project-specific environmental assessments so, in this case, the job was left to Corridor. But the board asked Mr. Richard in August, 2011, to gauge public opinion about Corridor’s findings.

It was an unusual measure of oversight – public consultations normally take place toward the end of the approvals process and, for a well of the size and duration being proposed by Corridor, they usually amount to little more than Internet feedback. Mr. Richard was instead being asked to hold public sessions in and around the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Corridor complained to the board, saying it was unreasonable for the company to be conducting a project-specific environmental assessment, and for Mr. Richard to be reviewing that assessment, ahead of the assessment of the larger offshore region. And the board agreed, suspending Mr. Richard’s work, then terminating it a month later.

Sean Kelly, a board spokesman, said the larger assessment was expected to take more than a year to complete – a first draft is not expected until next month – so there was no purpose in keeping Mr. Richard’s contract in place all that time.

Former Chevron executive Scott Tessier took over on Monday as CEO of the C-NLOPB. It will be up to the new management to decide how to proceed, and there eventually will be a public consultation about the Old Harry project, Mr. Kelly said.

It is unclear what form it will take. It could be as simple as online feedback, Mr. Kelly said, or it could be broader than that.

Certainly there will be a project-specific review including public consultation, said Mr. Richard. “But I think what they were asking me to do is not likely to happen because it was an additional hurdle for the project proponent.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/review-of-oil-well-for-gulf-of-st-lawrence-terminated/article9135282/