Lubicon Lake Nation appeals protest-ending court injunction

The Lubicon Lake Nation says it will continue to fight for the right to protest fracking on traditional lands.

Six-month court order stops protest in northern Alberta

Members of the Lubicon First Nation protested fracking activities near Sawn and Haig lakes in northern Alberta for about three weeks before a court-granted injunction shut them down. (Courtesy: Garrett Tomlinson)

The Lubicon Lake Nation says it will continue to fight for the right to protest fracking on traditional lands in northern Alberta.

They are challenging an injunction granted to Penn West Petroleum Ltd. by a Calgary court last month that effectively shut down a three-week protest by Lubicon members near Sawn and Haig lakes.

The order came after the company requested an injunction under Alberta’s Public Lands Act.

People who live in the area say they were peacefully rallying against a new fracking site between the two lakes. They say they use the land to hunt, fish and trap.

The Lubicon Lake Nation is home to the longest unresolved land claim in Canadian history. (Courtesy: Garrett Tomlinson)

The territory also has deep cultural, historical and environmental significance for the Lubicon people, said Garrett Tomlinson with the Lubicon Lake Nation.

“The decision is just absolutely egregious. It goes so above and beyond what's allowable that we really had no choice but to appeal that decision,” said Tomlinson.

“[We're] not going to stand by while oil companies and governments from outside benefit from Lubicon land and resources while they are essentially living in Third World conditions," he said. "They're stuck in poverty. So there's absolutely no benefit from these projects.”

Members of the community claim more than $14 billion worth of oil and gas has been taken from their territory without consent.

Now, the Lubicon First Nation says it has filed a Notice of Appeal with Alberta’s Court of Appeal, and has promised to fight the court order on constitutional grounds  arguing the court failed to consider fundamental aboriginal rights to traditional territory when making its order.

“This is our land until the Government of Canada enters into an agreement with us.” said Chief Barnard Ominayak in a press release. “Penn West, the province of Alberta, and the courts cannot simply choose to ignore our inherent rights and assist industry at the expense of our land and our people.”

The Lubicon Lake Nation is about 450 kilometres north of Edmonton.