Local First Nations and Metis groups are continuing to fight to protect the Moose Lake area from a proposed oilsands project.
Alberta Energy Regulator concluded it’s nearly two weeks public hearing at MacDonald Island Park last Thursday, Jan. 18 – regarding Prosper Petroleum’s Rigel Oilsands Project.
Prosper is proposing the first phase of its operations, which will be in the heartland of Fort McKay’s Moose, Namur and Gardiner lakes – a spot used to hunt, trap, fish, and conduct sacred practices.
McKay Metis and Fort McKay First Nations were on hand over the course of the hearing to speak out against the project.
McKay Metis president Ron Quintel tells Mix News the biggest concern from the Metis perspective is the proximity of the project to the sacred refuge.
“We can’t practice like we used to because the entire area around Fort McKay is owned by oilsands proponents, so we’re limited on where we can practice. Having a territory like Moose Lake enables us to go out and practice on the land, unharassed.”
Quintal says they are prepared to continue fighting the project long after these hearings.
“We are prepared to consider an appeal process not just from a Métis perspective but from a community perspective. We’re prepared to support the First Nations going forward because we feel as a community that it’s in our best interest to ensure we’re protecting that which is so sacred to us.”
The hearing is now awaiting a report from the Aboriginal Consultation Office before moving forward, according to AER.
Quintal says regardless of the AER’s decision, they will stand with First Nations.
“Because we’re opposing the project does not mean we’re opposing industry. In this circumstance, it’s about the community standing up for its territory that is already in danger and the fact that we have very little in terms of space to be able to go back to nature and go back to the land and practice our traditional ways.”