A group of protestors began occupying an Enbridge Line 10 construction site in Jerseyville this morning, protesting what they call the oil giant's "failure to appropriately consult with Indigenous nations."
The protest began around 7 a.m., on Trinity Road South near Book Road West.
According to police at the scene, there are around 15 to 20 protestors on site.
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"Indigenous Nations need to have the right to meaningful consultation, accommodation, and consent over projects that disturb or threaten their land, water or traditions — whether that's a brand new project or maintenance work," said protest spokesperson Jaydene Lavallie in a statement.
"Consultation needs to include traditional leadership, and consent must include the right to refuse."
Work on Line 10 has attracted its share of opposition.
Enbridge construction crews are in the midst of decommissioning a 12-inch pipeline from Westover to the Nanticoke Junction Facility in Glanbrook and replacing it with a 20-inch one. But the plan has attracted opposition, particularly since the news that it would involve felling thousands of trees.
No disorderly conduct on site, police say
Enbridge spokesperson Jesse Semko told CBC News that Enbridge "recognizes the rights of individuals and groups to express their views legally and peacefully."
"The Line 10 Westover Segment Replacement Project is an essential safety and maintenance project. This is not a capacity expansion — no increase to the already approved maximum operating capacity is being applied for."
Hamilton police Const. Lorraine Edwards told CBC News that there is "no disorderly conduct" at the site and they "don't anticipate any concerns."
"Protestors are there as a presence only," she said, adding that Enbridge is not currently working on site, and that protestors are not stopping traffic. The protestors, however, say no trucks or machinery are going in or out.
Protestors say Several First Nations on Enbridge's pipeline corridors attest they have not been consulted by Enbridge or the Crown on various construction projects, as required.
"Locally, that includes Aamjiwnaang, Chippewas of the Thames, Six Nations and Mississaugas of New Credit," a statement from the group reads.
Enbridge says consultations have been ongoing
Semko, however, says the company has consulted with Aboriginal people in the area.
"Indigenous engagement for the Line 10 Project has been extensive, with more than 900 engagement activities recorded to date," he said. "Our engagement has been meaningful as well, focused on helping communities understand the scope and scale of the replacement program."
"We respect the rights of Indigenous peoples to exercise their treaty and Aboriginal rights. We believe building relationships with Indigenous peoples is critical and we remain committed and open to a respectful dialogue."
The protestors say they also take issue with Enbridge's treatment of local Haudenosaunee man Todd Williams.
Williams spent months sparring with Enbridge all over Hamilton, trying to disrupt the company's pipeline operations. The rift centred on the company's property rights versus Indigenous treaty and hunting rights.
"Current systems aren't designed to stop pipeline projects — they're built to approve them — and courts have repeatedly failed to uphold indigenous law," said Trish Mills, another protestor, in a statement.
"Taking action ourselves is the only means we have to effectively address issues of non-consultation, environmental destruction and climate change."