Métis protest construction of northern Alberta TransCanada gas pipeline

Pipeline protesters in northern Alberta are attempting to block construction of a natural gas pipeline because the Métis community says they weren't consulted about the project, and the pipeline runs underneath a water source that a nearby community depends on.

‘No. We never been consulted with.’

Chard is a community about 120 kilometers south of Fort McMurray on Highway 881. Day and night over the last five days 15 protesters have gathered outside a nearby pipeline construction site for a “peaceful” protest. In the picture above, John Cardinal performs a daily prayer ceremony at the protest camp, calling for peace and the rise of the Indigenous people. (Joey Podlubny /Submitted)

Pipeline protesters outside Fort McMurray are attempting to block construction of a natural gas pipeline because the Métis community says they weren't consulted about the project that runs underneath a key nearby water source.

"No. We've never been consulted with," said Raoul Montgrand, Chard Métis Society president. "The reason why I'm doing this is the land."

Chard is a hamlet about 120 kilometres south of Fort McMurray on Highway 881. The pipeline, being constructed by TransCanada Corp., is a 20-km section that will connect to the existing Kettle River line. The federal cabinet approved the pipeline's expansion in October 2016.

Montgrand said day and night over the last five days as many as 15 protesters have blocked the pipeline's construction site for a "peaceful" protest.

The local Métis said TransCanada consulted with neighbouring First Nation bands. But Montgrand said the company repeatedly ignored his community's right to be consulted.

"We tried to work with them but TransCanada never came to the table and they still went ahead with it," Montgrand said.

TransCanada is building a 20-kilometer natural gas pipeline that will connect to the existing Kettle River natural gas line. (TransCanada)

The pipeline's route will run underneath the Christina River, and Montgrand said the community worries a leak could spoil the community's water source.

TransCanada wouldn't confirm whether the protest has disrupted construction.

But in an emailed statement the company said the National Energy Board and the federal cabinet concluded consultation was appropriate and all affected Indigenous groups had opportunities to share their views about the project.

The statement also said the project will include measures to reduce the negative environmental impacts.

A spokesperson for the protesters said Monday night they hope to meet with TransCanada officials in Chard Tuesday afternoon.