Dancing in the rain was the call of the day as the Maritime Bhangra Dance Group joined Mi’kmaw grandmothers in a celebration of Earth Day by the Alton Gas site in Nova Scotia.
The dancers are students from India – Bhangra is an ancient dance of joy.
And despite the pouring rain, about 30 supporters took part in a dancing and water ceremony.
“We’re celebrating you know the power of this river,” said grassroots grandmother, Dorene Bernard . ”The power of Mother Earth and the love we have for the water and the respect and the gratitude we have for clean water, be able to drink the water because many places on earth they can’t do that.”
The celebration was much needed for the grassroots grandmothers who are trying to stop the Alton Gas project.
That fight has taken them from the banks of the Sipekne’katik River to the courtroom.
“The Bhangra group to come and to perform a water dance, a really happy water dance it really it lifted our spirits,” said Bernard.
The grandmothers have occupied a camp at the Alton Gas company’s work site since 2017.
Last week, the company tore it down after winning a court injunction to remove the water protectors from blocking the site.
They have relocated to the Treaty Truck House which sits on Crown land but is still near the stie.
Alton Gas is proposing to store gas in underground salt caverns which means dumping the leftover brine into the river.
The grandmothers fear the river will be damaged – and that’s why Johathan Ferrier, a professor of biology at Dalhousie University joined them.
“That’s why my job as an Indigenous person is to be here on the ground protecting it,” said Ferrier. “Researching it, putting forward evidence that shows why we must do what we do when we protect this water.”
Ferrier said understanding how we connect to land is critical.
“The other systems are capitalist systems, and so understanding the sacredness of our relations is one-way biologists can contribute to protecting these lands and waters,” he said.
Bernard said the water is bringing people together.
“The Bhangra dancers to come and want to be a part of this and you know they’re so happy and their energy is, so you know so positive and so much happiness,” she said.
The grandmothers say they are starting the Wabanaki water walk in May.
They will also join hundreds of people at a four day conference in Maine to discuss how to heal the wounds of Mother Earth.