Ellen Page has thrown her support behind Mi’kmaq land protectors opposing a controversial plan to use water from one of Nova Scotia’s major rivers to create huge underground caverns to store natural gas.
The Halifax-born actress tweeted out a link to a Change.org petition on Thursday morning, encouraging her 1.48 million followers to sign the petition and “support our environment and indigenous rights.”
For the past 12 years, Alton Gas has been planning to pump water from the Sipekne’katik (Shubenacadie) River to an underground site 12 kilometres away, where it will be used to flush out salt deposits, creating up to 15 caverns.
The leftover brine solution would then be pumped back into the river over a two- to three-year period.
The project, which lies on unceded Mi’kmaw territory, has drawn criticism from Indigenous land and water protectors, who say they’re worried the project will damage the 73-kilometre tidal river system that runs through the middle of the Nova Scotia mainland.
Alton Gas says it has scientific studies showing the brine will not hurt the environment.
“Brine release at Alton has been extensively studied, both during the project’s provincial environmental assessment and the independent review led by the Mi’kmaq – the recommendations from which we are fully committed to implementing,” the company said in a statement to The Canadian Press.
Last month, federal officials said they were stepping in to regulate the project, saying their proposed regulations will be aimed at managing potential threats to fish, fish habitat and human health.
Page, an Oscar-nominated actress, has previously spoken about her responsibility to put a spotlight on the efforts of marginalized communities that are disproportionately impacted by environmental disasters and environmental racism.
“There are so many issues happening, and not enough people know about it, and that’s because, of course, marginalized people are continuously silenced,” Page said.
“It’s a beautiful province and a beautiful country, and I don’t think people know the realities of what’s happening, particularly how the most marginalized are brutally affected.”
Page has been a vocal critic of a plan by Northern Pulp to close its mill’s effluent treatment plant in Boat Harbour, N.S., a heavily polluted lagoon on the edge of the Pictou Landing First Nation.
Earlier this week, Alton Gas sought a judge’s approval to allow the RCMP to remove two of the land defenders from the firm’s land.
Dale Poulette and Rachael Greenland-Smith have been occupying a small cabin at the edge of the Alton Gas’ work site since 2017, concerned that the company’s natural gas storage project will do serious damage to the environment.
Alton, a subsidiary of Calgary-based Alta Gas, wants the court to issue an injunction that would ensure workers have access to the site near Stewiacke. The company says it has attempted to engage with the protesters, but say their talks have gone nowhere.
Poulette and Greenland-Smith’s lawyer has asserted that they are exercising their Indigenous land and water rights.
After hearing more than two hours of arguments, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Gerald Moir reserved his decision on Tuesday.
Both parties are expected back in court on April 4.
With files from Elizabeth McSheffrey and The Canadian Press
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