wapass guilty

Marilyn Wapass (left) and supporters from the Thunderchild First Nation. (David Shield, CBC)

A woman from the Thunderchild First Nation has been found guilty of contempt of court.

Marilyn Wapass was arrested in August after she refused to leave an on-reserve oil exploration site.

However, Wapass will not be fined and will not have to serve a jail sentence. She's happy with the decision.

"I think by his decision that he made today, he understood, or at least acknowledged how sacred our sundance grounds are to us as First Nations people," she said.

Protesters occupied a traditional sundance ground for weeks, saying that nearby seismic crews were disturbing the site.

'We both know that if we meet again on this issue, it will end very differently.' - Justice Shawn Smith

Eventually, protesters were ordered to leave the area. When Wapass refused, she was arrested.

In his decision, Justice Shawn Smith called this a 'family dispute' between the residents of the Thunderchild First Nation.

He said it was frustrating that protesters and band council could not agree on the boundaries of the sundance area, and asked that both sides resolve the issue peacefully.

Justice Smith told Wapass this sentence was a warning. 

"We both know that if we meet again on this issue, it will end very differently," he said.

Protesters have filed a countersuit against the First Nation, demanding that any oil exploration or drilling near the grounds cease.