What was touted by organizers as a ‘blockade’ of the Hardisty pipeline terminal ended up as a small roadside picket as the Idle No More movement arrived in east central Alberta.
The protest was organized to call attention to what organizers call the ‘exploitation’ of natural resources extracted from First Nations land in Alberta. According to a press release, the aim of the demonstration was to disrupt operations at the terminal by blocking traffic entering and exiting the facility. While the full scale blockade envisioned by the organizers never transpired, demonstrators did attempt to stop the four trucks that entered the terminal during the 30 minute picket. The trucks merely steered around the protestors.
While the turnout was small, organizer Dana Falcon of the Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan was pleased with the outcome.
Falcon told The Review that any benefits gained by those who live between Hardisty and Provost from the oil terminal are short lived.
“It’s all short term gain,” he said. “They don’t see a lot from the big terminals.”
Falcon said that the financial gains that come out of major energy projects in Alberta don’t outweigh their environmental impact. First Nations activists also are concerned that energy companies don’t fairly share revenues from resources taken from their land.
“We’ve been sitting back for too many years letting the government run everything,” he told The Review. “We’re not going to be pushed around anymore.”
Falcon claimed that operations within the terminal were scaled back as a result of the protest. Spokespersons at Gibson Energy and Enbridge told The Review that operations at their Hardisty plants were not affected. Messages left with other operators were not returned by press time.
While turnout by protestors was indeed light, the event was well attended by police. At least 20 RCMP members and Canadian Pacific Railway police patrolled the area around the terminal, pulling over at least one car containing three protestors from Calgary. According to Sgt. Lee Brachmann of the Killam RCMP detachment, the protestors were well behaved and there were no incidents.
The Hardisty terminal serves as the supply station for many oil and gas pipelines including the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.