By Shari Narine
BIGSTONE CREE NATION
Bigstone Cree Nation Chief Gordon Auger says it was never his intention to turn around vehicles belonging to multi-national corporations as of Monday.
“There’s nothing to say. That was never the plan,” said Auger.
However, the band’s website states “border security for gateway structures” are to be located on Highway 754 (Deep Valley) and on Highway 813 (Rock Island Lake Roadside Turnout) and the website links to a letter sent to Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan.
That letter, dated Feb. 20 and signed by Auger and land manager Troy Stuart, states “The anticipated date of installation of the gateway structures is March 12th, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. At which time all traffic related to the oilfield/forestry/mineral industry will be barred from entering without the express written consent of Bigstone Cree Nation.”
“I know what I wrote,” said Auger.
He contends the posting on the website “was a management decision to write it that way. But it wasn’t really a political decision to act that way.”
The posting lists 13 companies – including TransCanada, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., and Husky – that would be put on a “no entry” list for the First Nation.
Auger says whatever happens on the First Nation is a team decision.
“We have a management team. We have a political team. We work as a team and I don’t control anybody,” he said.
Auger expressed frustration with the attention the talk of border security, blockades and toll booths has garnered.
“Why is it that everybody is so interested in what the First Nation does? Why is it so important? Nobody cares where we live, whether we exist,” said Auger. “How come they never come to see us if they’re interested in where we live, what we do?”
Auger says Bigstone Cree Nation will be moving forward with a plan that will impact multinationals, but it won’t be a road block. He says toll booths will be going up, but he didn’t know when.
“Every oil company, every user of the road that goes to our reserve … people that only use our road access to benefit their riches to the oilfields and also benefit from our territories, that’s the people it will have impact on,” said Auger.
Auger would not say what the toll would be set at.
“It’s between us and the company at the time they negotiate. It’s not public information,” he said.
In the letter to Feehan, Auger noted industry disregarding impact benefit agreements, failed consultation and concerns for Wabasca watershed for why BCN would be taking action against the oil, gas and forestry industries.