Update: Bigstone terminated the blockade on Wednesday, Mar. 15
The Bigstone Cree Nation is taking action against certain large industrial operators in the Wabasca area. Last week on its website, BCN said it would be putting up ‘toll stations’ on roads in its ‘traditional territory,’ denying access to some companies but not others.
According to documents posted online at bigstone.ca, “Toll stations will deny access to outside companies and contractors.” Including CNRL, Al-Pac, Husky, Cenovus, Laricina, Exact Oilfield, Alstar Oilfield, and “all log haulers.”
On the other hand, entry will not be denied to “local people, local government and agencies, M.D. 17, food truck deliverer, fuel delivery, highway maintenance, ATCO, Canada Post, medical delivery or supplies to hospitals, Telus, police, emergency responders,” etc. This is a partial list, the website announcement says.
The rationale for the action is offered via a letter from Bigstone Chief Gordon Auger, also posted on the Bigstone website. The action “is not taken lightly,” Auger says, and gives six reasons. These include disregard for impact benefit agreements, a failure of meaningful consultation, surface and groundwater issues, delayed transfer of treaty land entitlement lands and neglect of a referendum on the transfer of control of highways.
Auger’s letter – addressed to Alberta Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan – goes on to say Bigstone was anticipating the stations would be set up on March 12 and be manned. They will remain in place, he said, “until the above-noted discrepancies are resolved to the satisfaction of Bigstone Cree Nation.”
Further details on the specific topic of groundwater concerns are laid out on the Bigstone website. They cite the use of drinkable groundwater by CNRL and Husky in areas near Bigstone reserve lands.