More than 200 people gathered and marched in Halifax on November 5 to show their support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s ongoing fight against a company’s plans to construct an oil pipeline in North Dakota.
Holding signs that read, “Solidarity with Water Protectors” and “Respect Indigenous Rights,” the group gathered at Victoria Park in downtown Halifax Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers, take part in a group prayer and sing the Mi’kmaw Honour Song to drumming.
The group then began their march to the Halifax Commons so they could create and take an aerial photograph of a human hashtag for the #NoDAPL movement.
“I really want (the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) to know that they’re supported and they’re loved and we’re sending out prayers,” said organizer Raven Peyote.
“All Standing Rock is asking for is prayers,” the 22-year-old from Elsipogtog First Nation, N.B. added.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota currently oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline Limited’s plan to construct a pipeline that will carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. They say the pipeline threatens sacred land and their source of water from the Missouri River.
The Tribe’s opposition to the company’s project, which began in April, has resulted in clashes with authorities and numerous arrests. Hundreds of Indigenous people from across the United States and Canada have travelled to North Dakota to support them in their struggle to protect their sacred land and water supply.
Dorene Bernard, who led the demonstrators in prayer prior to the march, said she also wanted to show her gratitude for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe standing up to protect water sources.
“We are protecting the water. We’re water protectors and we came here to stand with all (of) our allies,” Bernard said following the march.
“They’re standing for all water on Mother Earth,” she added.
Standing Rock similar to opposition against Alton Natural Gas – Bernard
Bernard, who lives in Indian Brook First Nation, N.S. said she sees a parallel between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s fight against the company constructing the pipeline to her own community’s opposition to the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project along the Shubenacadie River.
Alton Natural Gas Storage Project LP wants to construct underground salt caverns near the Shubenacadie River in order to store natural gas. The company plans to use water from the river to flush out the salt deposits and store the salt water mixture in holding ponds before releasing it back into the river.
Opponents to the project are concerned that an increase in the salinity of river could affect species like salmon and striped bass.
The Sipekne’katik Band has appealed the Nova Scotia government’s decision to allow the project to go ahead. A two-day hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14-15 in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
“They’re talking about saving water for millions of people in the United States,” Bernard said.
“And that’s what we are doing here, too, in Nova Scotia. We’re standing up for the (Shubenacadie) river and the Bay of Fundy,” she said.
Following the formation of the hashtag, the demonstration ended Saturday with a small group of Indigenous women, including Bernard, beating on their hand drums while singing the Mi’kmaq honour song.
“To drum with my sisters is really powerful medicine for us,” Bernard said. “It feeds our spirit and helps us to continue on and to continue in this fight.”