Some Mi’gmaq community members in Quebec are concerned about upcoming consultations with the province over oil and gas development.
The Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat (MMS) is the governing body that represents the three Mi’gmaq First Nations in negotiations with Quebec, and some Mi’gmaq don’t think they have their best interests at heart.
“We don’t trust them as far as we can throw them,” said Gary Metalic Sr., chief of Gespe’gewa’gi, the seventh district tribal council, a traditional government that rejects the legitimacy of the band council.
Metalic said under no circumstances does he want drilling or fracking on his territory.
And he said he has proof that MMS there is a cozy relationship between oil companies.
A Listuguj band council document from August 2016 describes a potential agreement involving royalty sharing of oil wells.
“This proves to us and shows us that they have been negotiating with these oil and gas companies on oil revenues,” he said. “That’s unacceptable.”
Since 2005, the Gaspe Peninsula has been carved up for oil and gas exploration.
All without the full consultation of the three Mi’gmaq First Nations.
“This territory belongs to the Mi’gmaq, it’s unceded territory and as such the Mi’gmaq need to make decisions on what kind of resource development is going to happen here,” said Tanya Barnaby, executive director of the MMS.
As the governing body that represents the three Mi’gmaq communities in Quebec, Barnaby is aiming to fix it.
They’re gearing up for long-awaited consultations with the province before the year is over.
“The government gave them those leases, and it’s the government that needs to deal with the Mi’gmaq on how those leases will be reconciled,” she said.
Barnaby said the agreement that Metalic is talking about from 2016 was quickly nixed, and that it’s drafting was merely strategic.
“It was a also just an insurance policy, that anything that was going to happen on the territory was going to be done with the Mi’gmaq to make sure that the Mi’gmaq were aware of the transactions, because otherwise we don’t hear what’s going on in the territory the companies don’t call us and say ‘hey we’re going to be drilling tomorrow,'” she said.
But Metalic’s main concern is what a gas or oil spill could mean for the salmon that Mi’gmaq have fished for since time immemorial.
“It would be a catastrophe,” he said. “How do you clean it up? Or can you clean it up?”
Barnaby said the MMS plans to meet with community members before consultations with the province takes place.
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