The court injunction preventing Lubicon Lake protesters from blockading a fracking access road likely won’t expire until after the nation’s court appeal date this summer, but that isn’t stopping the community from planning further actions targeting oil and gas development on its territory.
Garrett Tomlinson, communications coordinator for the Lubicon Lake Nation, said last week that the community is planning to take its message to the national and international levels, starting with a speaking engagement with the University of Ottawa’s law faculty, to shed light on the political battle between the First Nation and the petroleum industry in play since the 1980s.
Tomlinson and his partner Cynthia, the Lubicon Nation’s lands and negotiations advisor, will be giving a guest lecture to law students and will sit on a panel on Aboriginal law.
“Essentially right now we’re going to be doing a bit more education on the issue for the general public…to try to get some more support across the country and look into having those types of speaking engagements throughout,” Tomlinson said.
“At the end of the day, I think Canadians are supportive of indigenous issues. They recognize there are some differences that need to be resolved between industry and government and First Nations and I think it’s just a matter of getting that message out there,” he said.
Lubicon Lake Nation protesters began blockading an access road to a PennWest Petroleum Ltd. fracking site on their traditional territory in early December, where they remained day and night for three weeks until a court injunction successfully filed by the company resulted in a six-month removal of the roadblock, and also prevented protesters from establishing similar ones in the area.
The Lubicon have since filed an appeal of the injunction, stating the court failed to take into account the First Nation’s constitutional rights. That likely won’t enter the courts until spring at the earliest, after the injunction ends.
Still, Tomlinson said further action by the First Nation has not been put on hold, as the community is currently discussing taking the protest to PennWest’s offices in Calgary.
When the injunction is finally over, it likely won’t take protesters long to begin asserting jurisdiction over the lands that have yet to be settled through a treaty or land claim, he added.
“I think you can imagine the Lubicon would do it in a heartbeat,” he said of re-forming the blockade. “I know there’s a number of people who weren’t ready to leave in the first place, but people came to consensus that it wasn’t going to serve anyone to sit in a jail over Christmas. But at the end of the day, they are ready and willing to stand up and defend their land regardless of what Alberta’s courts say.”